I am the beginning of the end, and the end of time and space. I am essential to creation, and I surround every place. What am I?
I’ve had a few people comment lately on how I can possibly manage to fit everything I do into each week. One woman that I work with was astonished that I manage to work full time, write and edit a festival website, run a blog, go to the gym several times a week and get on with my NCTJ training as well as having a busy social life. Well, I can’t be the only person out there burning the candle at both ends to fit everything in, especially if you’re having to follow your passion outside of a job that is not quite as fulfilling as they might like. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I manage to do it and keep it going, but here are some of my top tips for keeping track of everything and managing your time well:
- Most importantly, buy a diary. Make sure it has plenty of space to write your jobs for each day and USE it. Don’t just stick to it for a week. If you tend to flit from job to job without finishing things then make sure you tick something off before you move onto the next thing. Set yourself the task of writing all your jobs for the day in each morning and then work your way through them – it might be hard at first, but after a while you’ll wonder how you ever managed without a diary for your appointments. It’s also great for keeping track of all your nights out, meals with friends, work do’s etc so that you don’t end up getting double-booked.
- The to-do list is very important when it comes to time management -you need to go into each day with a list of everything you must achieve in order to have any concept of how much you have achieved by the end of the day. Each morning when I arrive at work, I set myself a list of targets and jobs that need doing – no matter how small it is important to list them so you get the pleasure of a job well done when you tick it off your list. I then make sure any social engagements are listed and training time, then after this I list time for blogging/editing/writing. By setting it out into a new timetable each day, it is easy to change according to how demanding your work/social schedule happens to be that week – a steady timetable is hard to keep with if, like me, you are quite a spontaneous person.
- Refuse to give up your social life and the things you enjoy. It is important to stay balanced and spend time doing the things you enjoy as well as grafting, otherwise you lose your motivation and rewards system. The way to use this is to use the naughty step/Pavlov’s dogs theory of good behaviour = reward, while lack of work = punishment. Train yourself to understand that by putting the work in, you deserve your time to kick back and relax. I tend to spend three nights a week working on coursework, with the other two week nights spent at the gym and writing for my blog – these are my treat nights.
- Prioritise – you must always realise that the work you are being paid for and that which will pay off more in the long run (i.e. training) are more important – even if they are more boring or less satisfying. You are lucky to have a job in the current climate and must not let your work suffer because you want to stay up all night blogging. Be responsible and it will pay off.
- Use your lunch breaks wisely. I work in the town centre so it is bloody tempting to go out every lunchtime and spend my hard earned wages on useless crap or clothes I don’t need. I went through several months of this when I started, but now I am trying to make the most of the hour by using it to study my law books and shorthand, and blogging/editing the website. It means that spending an hour doing the website at work gives me an extra hour free when I am home in the evening to be spent at the gym or doing something else.
- Don’t feel bad for saying no. This is the hardest one for me, which I really struggle with even now. I hate disappointing people or letting them down by saying no to a social engagement – even if I really cannot afford it/have the time to do it. I always feel bad for letting people down, but when you have a lot of friends in different social groups, it is difficult to share out your limited social time between them. Let them know that they mean a lot to you and that you are sorry, then make plans to spend time with them in the coming weeks when you are a bit freer. Again, you could use the lunch breaks or gym time wisely by combining gossip catch up with a bite to eat or a workout. Look for ways to combine jobs and duties.
- No matter how much you love your blogging/writing/editing/creative activities, remember that they are solo activities. We humans are social creatures and you must remember to put the people in your life above all else every now and again – don’t miss out on social occasions because of a blog post that could have waited – you’ll regret it in the long run.
- Create a network of useful friends in similar fields – for example, I run the entertainment section of the newspaper and have worked hard to build a packed little black book of contacts in theatre, music, dance, arts etc – not only have I made the contacts, but I have maintained them by making the odd phone call to catch up, meeting for a quick coffee and so on, to make these contacts feel valued and to make sure that I am the first on their list when it comes to latest news and updates. By doing small and steady amounts to maintain these friendships, they pay off a lot by providing me with plenty of material for each week’s paper without my hours of searching for stories.
- Put yourself first every once in a while. It is easy to get swept up in keeping all these jobs going and making sure you are up to speed with everything. It’s bloody exhausting. Give yourself a little time off every now and again. A few days away from all work, no checking emails, stay off social networks and keep your mind on other things. Relax and forget it all.
- The second most important thing – you must want to do it. So many people fail to fit everything in because they lack the motivation and can’t really be bothered. You have to really want to do everything and to want to do it well – otherwise you will end up doing an average job at everything rather than impressing in all areas. And no-one wants to be average!
Hope these tips help you – this was all I could think of. But I really think it is down to the individual as we all have our own ways of working efficiently. What works for me might not suit you, and vice versa. What is your top tip for managing your time well?
(And the answer to the riddle is the letter E)