Being self-employed requires you to be very well organised. When Ashley Wiggins and I decided to set up Tirol Box in the beginning of 2016, we knew that a very big challenge was waiting for us. Setting up a completely new business "on the side" looked almost impossible. And even though it was a huge amount of effort and blood, sweat and tears, we made it.
Perfect time management was crucial especially for me. From February to December 2016 (almost the whole year), I worked about 16 to 18 hours per day on average – yes, pure (!) working time. In these eleven months I had no more than ten days off. I had to run HCG corporate designs as normal and "on the side" Tirol Box had to be set up. You maybe can imagine how hard this time was for me...
This is why time management is so important. Here I give you my personal 5 tips for great time management:
1. Prioritise correctly
Make a list of jobs. This already gives you a good overview. Such an overview is really important. Time-sensitive things should always be completed first, in the order of their deadline – in consideration of how long these To Do’s take.
Pieces of work that are required from you by your colleagues for them to continue working on it, and give it back to you for continuing working on it, should rank quite high on your priority list, too. Consider that your colleagues are not always available when you think they should be.
You can reduce the time pressure of regular jobs by pre-working on them. An example is this blog: I post a blog article every two weeks. But as I don’t have time to write a new blog article every two weeks, I pre-write them several weeks in advance, sometimes even two to three months in advance. This reduces time pressure and blog writing can climb down the priority list a bit. I book in three days to pre-write blog articles in a week where my calender is not full. This is how I make use of work-downtime.
2. Plan in buffer times
Even if you think, project X will take up only two hours out of your busy schedule today. Trust me, it will more probably be like three hours. This is why I find it extremely important to plan in approx. 30 to 50 % buffer time. Buffer times I do not use for work, I can use for breaks or administrative work.
3. Analyse and reflect yourself
Ask yourself at what time of the day you are most productive. Most people are mentally fit in the morning. Other people are fitter in the evening. Some people even at night. Analyse yourself and find out when you are most productive and plan your workdays accordingly. Difficult jobs should always be done when you are most productive.
Some people are better, some people are worse at multi-tasking. But if you have a lot on, you sometimes have no choice rather than doing several things at once. For example, I often read e-books or newsletters all at once while working out on the crosstrainer.
5. Eliminate time killers
A clear mind, full concentration and focus are essential requirements in order to do your work well, without mistakes and in time. Especially in times like these, smart phones, Facebook & Co. are omnipresent time killers that destroy our concentration and make it much more difficult to work well. The best thing to do is to have two separate smart phones, one for private which is in another room, and one for business which is on your desk. Also WhatsApp is a huge time killer. I excluded myself from a WhatsApp group for example because it cost me 45 minutes per day. You have to make a decision: Either use WhatsApp and surf on Facebook now or work, thus finish work sooner and enjoy more nice free time in the evening. How does that sound to you? ;-)
I hope my 5 tips for great time management were helpful for you and you can take some of that advice into practise.