Lifehacker published an article about time management. The interview with Tiffany Dufu, author of Drop the Ball and CEO of The Cru, points out the importance of relying on a calendar instead of a to-do list.
While I know a lot of people who work from home (be it because of COVID-19 or because they just made working from home their lifestyle) hate the idea of using their calendar as a time management tool as opposed to the to-do list, Tiffany Dufu is absolutely right.
Time Management Is a Daily Affair
The problem with relying on a to-do list is that most people (and that likely includes you because few qualify as an anomaly when it comes to statistics) simply do not follow through. They are procrastinators. They want to “do it later.” As I discuss in my book, the issues with doing it later when you work from home include:
- Missing deadlines
- Not doing your best work
- An abundance of stress because you basically paint yourself into a corner by waiting until the last minute
- Possibly losing clients
Using your calendar allows you to protect your time. That is time that you can devote to building your business and making money.
Your calendar is a daily time management tool. You can take 15 minutes a day and plan how your day (or even the following day) should flow. That’s only 1% of your day. That’s 1% of your day to help control the other 99%.
That’s not to say that everything will flow smoothly all day. Far from it, actually, especially since you are working from home. In fact, if you’re new to working from home for any reason, Bloomberg recently reported that the pandemic work day is 48 minutes longer. Of course, I still suspect part of that is because people refuse to set professional boundaries and shut shit down to their normal work hours. I know, I was that person. I enjoy what I do and there are times when I work outside of my hours…but I am also self-employed. I am also not necessarily answering emails or taking phone calls, either.
Then, if you have children at home, you have to keep in mind that there will be interruptions. And, news flash, that’s not their fault…so do not take it out on them. This pandemic shit isn’t their fault. So, you need to use your calendar to schedule in time with them…while also planning things for them to do. My last baby bird in the nest won’t ever leave the nest because of his disabilities. It’s one of the reasons I work from home. We have virtual school, a couple of different types of therapy, outside time, TV time, play time…you know, parenting shit. Plus, there is supervising his self-care. At some point, he will be old enough for Special Olympics. But all of it is doable by…time management.
A Traditional To-Do List Won’t Work for Most of You
A traditional to-do list won’t work for most of you. My planner combines both a calendar aspect as well as a to-do list. I can jot things down on the to-do list. I treat it as the “shit that must get done today while I am working” list. I use the calendar aspect for several purposes: actual deadlines, self-imposed deadlines for projects I break down into manageable chunks, and shit like virtual meetings and other appointments.
Creating a giant to-do list and thinking you’re going to be able to prioritize it and work your way through it doesn’t work for most people. It’s not organized enough. It’s overwhelming. It’s too easy to get lost. You could use:
- Your Google calendar
- The Unfuck Yourself undated planner (PDF format)
- Your favorite paper planner that has a calendar / schedule / to-do list all in one
- Evernote (there are lots of great templates out there. The Unfuck Yourself undated planner I created was first born in Evernote)
- Other project management software that allows you to assign due dates
Basically, you can use anything you want as long as you can organize your projects and assign due dates to keep yourself on track. It just needs to be something you will remain consistent with as far as using it as concerned…because ultimately, it won’t do you any fucking good if you won’t use it.
I’ve used lots of digital project management options. I end up reverting back to my planner after some time. Writing things down just helps me remember it better…and I can take whatever it is that doesn’t get finished and move it to the next day.
Set and Stick to Hours
Daily time management does you no good if you do not develop the self-discipline necessary to stick to whatever hours you set for your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a microbusiness and you have zero clients. Your job is to find clients. It doesn’t matter if you’re a side-hustler. Your job is to serve the clients you have and not blow them off because you don’t feel like it is worth your time…I’ve watched that happen. You are destroying your credibility.
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, whatever…all the train wrecks will still fucking be there later….all 982 comments will likely still be there because people love the attention and drama. Worry about you and your future.
This Is Daily, Not Weekly
It is not enough to sit down on Sunday and decide you’re going to do all the things for your business. Because you won’t. Once you stop looking at your plan or working your plan, you’ll lose momentum…and it becomes easier to just not do it. Time management is daily.