Thanks so much for all your comments on my recent career post. It was smashing to hear how so many of you have also made a leap to self employment too. There were a few requests for a post on how I manage my time between my two jobs hence today’s feature. Having several roles means life is extraordinarily busy, I have to admit sometimes I don’t know my arse from my elbow but to be honest whose life isn’t hectic?
I thought it may helpful to talk through the time management tactics I’ve found work best for me. I warn you they are very simple and not at all ground-breaking. When it comes to apps and other productivity tools I’ve found my dalliance with them is short lived. I’m quite old school and prefer to just use pen and paper and the standard options in my email and phone settings.
Stick to a morning routine
Regardless of whether it’s one of the three days I’m in the office or two days at home, I try to stick to a similar morning routine. If I deviate then everything goes off kilter and I’m less efficient. I understand this is far easier for me than most as I don’t have little ones to sort out in the morning.
After jumping in the shower and putting on my face, I fire up my laptop over breakfast, updating our social media channels and responding to any comments. I’ve weaned myself off checking RMS comments from my iPhone in bed as a) it’s probably not particularly healthy to start work when you only have one eye open and b) I prefer to respond via the keypad on my laptop. This saves a few valuable minutes as previously I was just duplicating work by reading them on two devices. Those 120 seconds can be a luxury in the morning can’t they?
Don’t check if you can’t respond
In a similar vein I’m also working on trying not to check my emails when I know I’m not able to respond. I do find this one very tricky as it’s almost an auto-pilot thing to scroll through my phone every so often. However, as wonderful as it is to have access to information while I’m doing the food shop, I’m not easily able to reply to mails while stocking a trolley. Plus it drives my husband up the wall as I end up drifting off half way through a conversation to concentrate on something else.
99% of the time the email doesn’t require an immediate response (who flags an emergency by email?) and will get a far more coherent reply if I’m back at my laptop. This makes it much easier to separate work from play too.
I aim to keep both my jobs separate and therefore find individual to-do lists work for me. My husband is a big fan of Evernote to keep track of his chores, I’m a bit more retro.
I have a very posh Smythson notebook in my bag to cover all my personal to-do’s. I then have a paper pad for my corporate job which is kept with my laptop at all times. For Rock My Style I have another laptop and prefer to keep a digital to-do list rather than in a pretty pad. I have no idea why I work in this way but perhaps helps me compartmentalise and differentiate each area of my life.
There are some who would advocate keeping a short to-do list and limit it to five or so priorities. Personally I’m not phased by a long list and actually prefer a lengthier lineup so I can ensure my day is made up of a variety of tasks. I mentally set myself time frames to achieve each on and find it adds pace to my day, in turn making me more productive.
I’m more of an early bird than a night owl so I prioritise important tasks for the morning. See I told you these tactics weren’t ground breaking.
I used to love a real-life hardback diary but find I’m far more likely to keep a digital one updated. James and I have a synced gmail calendar so we can keep track of our social lives and I have access to both of my work diaries through my phone so I can always see my upcoming schedule.
Thankfully both my roles offer very flexible working but being a freelancer means limited holiday. Having a day off often involves rejigging my working patterns to redistribute the workload. Easy access to all three calendars means I can look ahead and plan how I’ll slot in rearranged hours over coming weeks. It can be a logistical jigsaw but that’s the case for many of us.
Turn off notifications
I am distracted by shiny objects and notifications. I used to see an email come in and break away from what I was doing to reply to it even though it didn’t warrant an immediate response. I’d then get diverted off to do something else and by the end of the day had a heap of half-finished tasks.
Don’t get me wrong, notifications are a marvellous idea and most definitely have a purpose. It’s always great to be able to remove a dodgy comment from Instagram as soon as it’s posted, however I do find them hugely distracting.
A career coach once advised me to turn off email alerts and although I don’t do this all the time, I do switch them off when I want to knuckle down. Turning off notification helps me focus on one task at a time so in the long run I get more done and I’ve found it really helps with procrastination too.
I’m very keen to hear about how you deal with the hectic bustle of everyday working life? How do you manage your time effectively and any tips we should all try? Oh and if the header image looks familiar I pinched it from Charlotte’s recent office tour. Do take a peek if you haven’t already.