Are you like a lot of my clients? You want to do/try it all. You’d like to be everywhere but time runs out.
Lack of time is the number one anxiety for most of my clients. It’s not fear of rejection or failure or even potential criticism. It’s there’s not enough time in the day to do it all.
Like you, I’ve been overwhelmed with possibilities for business development and strategy.
Just three years ago, I remember sitting down and crying to my husband that I couldn’t work any harder. If I wanted to increase my impact in the world, I would have to work smarter. That’s when I hired a serious business coach and got back on track.
Here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with overwhelm and a seeming lack of time.
1. The important stuff always gets done.
I don’t know how, but I know why the important stuff always gets done. It gets done because it’s important! I recognize its value and somehow manage to make it happen.
Knowing this truth is a relief.
2. There is no such thing as time management.
You can’t manage time. The clocks keep ticking and the sun continues to rise and set. There’s not much we can do about that.
But we can manage ourselves. Here are a few ideas for doing this:
- Group similar tasks together: phone calls, errands, writing (more on that below).
- Say No to the opportunities and requests that don’t serve your long-term goals. This is the hardest lesson you’ll learn.
If you master saying No, you’ll master yourself and your business.Invitations come at you from every direction, and you have to have the strength to know what is critical to add to your calendar and, more importantly, what doesn’t deserve a place on your schedule.
- Hire someone. If you’re so busy that you can’t meet deadlines and live up to your promises, it’s time to get help.
I suggest hiring someone while it still stings your pocketbook a little. You aren’t going to wake up one day with the sudden realization that you have “extra money” for an assistant. You need to hire people so that your business can grow.
- Stop multitasking. Switching from task to task and back again adds as much as 25% more time to what it would normally take to complete each task.
3. It’s easier to crank out four article drafts at once than to write one at a time. This sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Something happens when you devote a couple of hours to focused writing. It’s like your ideas have babies. They multiply and feed off of one another, so pretty soon that one little idea becomes four.
4. Well-defined systems will save your behind.
Stop reinventing the steps it takes to publish a newsletter, blog post, or to execute an exhibition. Create systems for every task you undertake on a regular basis.
A system is a series of steps that includes the following actions:
- Block out time for the task on your calendar.
- Define the tools and technology you will use.
- Identify the people who will help or must be notified.
5. Automate everything you can.
When someone signs up for your newsletter, they should receive an automated, but personal-sounding, email. If you have an assistant, s/he should automatically receive notification of orders or invoices so you don’t have to relay messages.
6. Download email when you have time to process it.
Email is probably our #1 time-sucker, but it doesn’t have to be this way. A few years ago, I turned off the “automatically download” function in my email program. Now, I download messages several times a day – when I have time to focus on them.
I refuse to let email run my workflow, and I encourage you to follow my lead.
7. Honor your calendar. If it’s important, schedule it.
For quite some time, I have been blocking out Friday mornings for writing time. For almost as long, I have allowed too many appointments to creep into that sacred period. Before I know it, I’m scrambling to write on weekends when I should be refilling the well of inspiration.
Now that I’m aware of how detrimental it is to my workflow to miss writing time, I am better prepared to guard my Friday mornings.
8. Planning time is your best friend.
If you think you’re too busy to set aside a couple of hours a week to plan, you will have no one to blame but yourself when you start feeling overwhelmed.
In my experience, overwhelm happens when everything is up in my head. I don’t know what happens up there and who is in charge of allowing such shenanigans, but my brain in overwhelm gear is pretty worthless. It’s unfocused, directionless, fearful, and anxious.
This makes it impossible to get anything constructive accomplished.
The solution is planning time – every day and every week.
Is lack of time one of your biggest issues? Please share how you deal with this or tell us about your favorite time-saving electronic programs.