Time Management Tools and Tips for Your Blog or Business
I was bound and determined to get my email inbox and to-do list under control this week, so I did. It felt AWESOME. I now feel less anxious when I start work every morning and I now have time to…what for it…be creative and write. Yeah, it rocks. Here are a few resources and tips I used to achieve such awesomeness. For the record, I am not working with any of the following companies I mention, I just like them. 🙂
Get Email Under Control
Get Gmail. I highly recommend using Gmail as your email provider. Gmail will save you loads of time with its smart features like threaded messages, spam filter, label filing system, priority inbox (this magically puts high priority messages first), and an easy chat option (via text or video) that allows you to chat with other Gmail users. (this is fabulous for my assistant and I to keep in touch throughout the day) I can also easily forward all 5 gmail accounts to one main account, which again, saves me tons of time.
Eliminate spam and too many subscriptions. Even with Gmail’s fantastic features, my inbox can still get backed up fairly quickly. Most of my email messages consist of unwanted subscriptions and mailing lists that I didn’t necessarily sign up for. (I’m sure you can relate to this) To avoid this from happening, I have started unsubscribing viciously to anything I don’t want in my inbox by clicking the little “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each message. This has cut down a huge bulk of my email. Also, think twice before checking “keep me updated on specials” when you shop online, unless you REALLY want to receive email updates ALL OF THE TIME. For group and communities that you belong to, consider creating a folder (you can easily create these in Gmail) for messages that consist of community group updates (i.e. Ning and Facebook groups), so that you can check at your own convenience instead of getting distracted by each update.
Respond right away. Another thing that often clutters my inbox are messages that I need to respond to, but I haven’t done so yet. Attending to these types of email messages right away will save more time in the long run because it avoids the inevitable pile up.
Streamline Your To-Do List
Keep an updated calendar. If your life is anything like mine, your month is full of conference calls, deadlines, sports games, homework, invoices, and the like. YOU MUST KEEP TRACK OF THIS! Have you attempted to keep track of everything inside your head? How is that working for you? Yeah. Get a calendar, whether that be a wall calendar, desk calendar or computer calendar (Cozi is a great online calendar), whatever works best for you.
Consider a task manager program. Currently, I am using Remember the Milk for my task management and I love, love, love it because I can install the browser add-on and *poof* my task list is now in my Gmail sidebar. I give EVERYTHING a deadline, whether that be appointments, blog posts, phone calls, or follow-ups. I also schedule all of my tasks in daily chunks, so that I don’t get too overwhelmed in one day. This allows me more time with my family or just to be plain creative. A little bit a day goes a long way in knocking out a HUGE to-do list.
Avoid the Online Time Suckers
Limit time on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, I know that social media is a part of what we do, but it can still be a HUGE time suck. Set a time limit and stick to it. If not, that article that is due tomorrow will become more stressful that it needs to me. Saying that, I wouldn’t just tweet or share Facebook messages that are only blog or business related messages because you’re trying to save time. You still want to stay authentic and real. It’s all about balance, just like anything else in life.
Limit time in communities and groups. This is a tough one for me since I run a community myself, but I know how easy it is to get sucked in for hours. Don’t get me wrong, communities are a GREAT thing, but if they are causing you to get off track or behind, set a limit and stick to it. If you are in a group or community that provides vast information and helpful tips, take written notes during your allotted time so that you don’t waste more time trying to find it later.
Take Breaks Often and Enjoy Life
Smell the roses. Cliché I know, but true. Take time to enjoy life amongst the chaos. You will be a better parent, friend, blogger and employee by doing so. After all, what will you blog about if you aren’t living life to its full intent? Life provides the inspiration you need to keep your writing fresh and creative.
Be okay with the incomplete. This is probably my toughest challenge that I deal with daily. I’m trying to learn that it’s okay to have a project halfway done or tasks that are not complete. Always remember the big picture and the things that truly matter most. For me, that means my faith and family, so I try to keep that perspective when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Share Your Tips
I hope you enjoyed my time management tools and tips. I would love to hear your own tools, tips and thoughts, so please share below in our comments.