I am sharing this in the hopes that you will find it helpful if you are finding it difficult to manage your time in this 24/7/365 connected world.
How am I working to find focus? Perhaps will start with a little bit of background. In addition to my freelance work with Web 2.0, Blogging, WordPress Dev and Social Media I am also the founder and owner of Managed Solutions. As a result I’ve had to wear quite a few hats since January of 1997. One of my priorities recently has to become more focused and effective with my time, largely out of necessity (sad eyes looking at the gaps in my blog postings!). In an effort to help gain focus I started keeping track of every minute of my work day, not just my client billable time. That process provided me with the inspiration to write this post which for the record took EXACTLY 61 minutes start to finish.
Since I spend a good part of my time doing IT work it is hard to really schedule my time effectively. That said I have a general flow to my work schedule right now, this is the general framework that I work with by day of the week:
Mondays – Sales and Marketing
Ok so in theory I am performing sales and marketing efforts on this day. The truth is I often get a lot of customer calls on Monday mornings. Many a Monday becomes a response fest – a good chunk of my living comes from providing IT services to my clients.
Tuesdays – Field Days
I schedule foreseeable appointments on Tuesdays most of the time. I have a Rotary meeting at 7AM in the morning so I just keep on going from there.
Wednesdays – Work Days
Work as in billable project work, I schedule foreseeable projects for Wednesdays. Objective is to be logging time on projects all day every Wednesday. Usually the early in the week fire drills of Monday have concluded and I am able to focus on finishing longer term work.
Thursday – Flex Day
Thursday is pretty much a catch up day; ideally it is a carry-over of Wednesday.
Friday – Finance and Flex Day
I catch up on finance and accounting on Friday’s. I also tend to schedule meetings on Friday’s because it is lighter on the IT side of things most of the time. I also have time on my Friday agenda for Social Media posting for the next week. This can quickly fall in the priority list if it’s been a busy week or customers have urgent needs.
After Hours and Weekends
I tend to do a lot of remote tasks that require me to work after hours so I plan for and execute these tasks on week nights or over the weekend. I do my best to balance the time I spend with time spent with family. I make sure I limit the discretionary time for non-family and work items to avoid allowing my work or family to suffer.
A little exercise
As I mentioned I started to track everything I do, every minute of the day to identify my true activities and to help remove bottlenecks. I’ve not been doing this long but I discovered a couple of really important facts:
- I work for free a lot more than I realized.
- Accounting and Finance are very time consuming.
- Responding to Social Media and Email especially can take up a lot of my time.
- I usually take 30-45 minutes for lunch/family time during a typical 8-5 work day (even though I work at home)
Now I am starting to make adjustments. I am already a serial un-subscriber and a master Email filter writer both help me cut down on Email time, but I am also trying to keep my responses short and to the point. I am also ignoring and deleting a lot more non-essential Emails. One thing that I find that really helps is to always consider my long term objectives in everything I am doing. If for example I am getting notices about technologies that really don’t fit then I don’t even file them for later reading, I just delete them. I think keeping long term goals in mind is a great way to reduce the burden that all these tools (E-Mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc) can help to create. I always make time for things that are important to me, that is one thing that won’t change, much to the contrary.
I will continue to refine my process. I am also going to make sure that I am being compensated for more of my work or at the very least keep track of the freebies and make sure the customer knows about them. I can also use this as a basis to fine tune my compensation and estimating. I am also narrowing my long term focus and planning to be more specialized. I have in my business these last 14+ years always responded to what the market (and more importantly my customers) were needing. I can still do that but sometimes it might be by recommending a trusted third party to handle certain aspects of their needs. These relationships can be great sources of new business. I’ve had several of my partners send leads to me for more of my core business.
Do you have any similar practices? I would enjoy hearing about them.
Photo credit ihatatho