When I had my first business, I had very poor time management skills. The business was open 7:00am to 7:00pm Monday to Saturday and I was there practically all day, everyday.

While we were closed on Sundays, my mind (and sometimes body) didn’t get that memo. So I ended up working actively or thinking about the business on Sundays…even when at the beach with my family.

A few years ago, I made the decision to ease up on the time spent working vs that spent with family. It took a while to get in sync, but things finally worked out. It’s reached a point where today, my mind refuses to work when I’m resting or with family.

Here are some changes that helped get back my time and sanity

1. Creating an Ideal Schedule

One of my coaches helped me create an ideal schedule of how I wanted my work week to look like. This schedule included:

  • Writing and personal errands on Mondays.
  • Coaching and marketing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • Having Fridays free for admin and meetings.

It took almost an year for the schedule to work seamlessly. And when it did, my mind started switching off work easily.

My weekday working hours are from 9:00am to 4:00pm. I actually start working at 8:00am, but that first hour of the day is treasured – for writing, reading and anything that’s a priority. I end my workday at 5:00pm so I have an hour at the end of the day (from 4:00pm to 5:00pm) for winding down.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t work beyond my ideal working hours. What has happened is that I now make conscious decisions about my time and work. For example, if I have to work on Saturday, it’s only a few hours in the morning or when I host a workshop once a quarter.

2. Batching tasks together

Batching in this case means doing bulk work on a repetitive task. I got this tip from a writer on Problogger and it has helped me save massive amounts of time.

For example, instead of creating a Facebook post for my business page each day, I set aside an hour or two once a week and create posts for at least 7 days. I then schedule the posts and just check in twice a day for 15 minutes per check-in.

In this way, I’ve not only minimized the time I spend creating the posts. I’ve also reduced chances of wasting time on Facebook and social media each day.

I’ve also done the same with coaching as I coach and do strategy sessions from Tuesday to Thursday. While I may schedule a coaching or strategy session on Monday or Friday, this is not the norm and it’s on a case-by-case basis.

Finally, I’m now working on batching my blog posts with the aim of having at least 4 posts scheduled in advance.

Batching is a very powerful process for increasing your productivity. It also gets you in the flow so you end up doing more work in less time.

Related article: How to Manage Your Time More Effectively

3. Separating work from personal life

One of the best things I’ve done regarding time management is separating my personal and business phone numbers. Before I did this, I’d have people calling me early in the morning or late at night.

Separating myself from the business contact-wise means that I’m not accessible from 6:00pm to 8:00am the next day. I also don’t give my personal number to everyone. It’s only used by close friends, family, and  premium coaching clients.

This action alone helped me take control of my personal time because people now know that I’m not available after hours. My premium clients are also aware that the personal line is only for emergencies and not for regular use.

4. Prioritizing personal and family time

Family time is sacred and my children and I aim to spend at least 2 hours together on weekday evenings. During this time, we chat, have dinner, and complete after-dinner chores. We then watch a movie together or they work on their homework as I read.

I’ve deliberately not had a live-in househelp for many years. So my boys have gotten used to doing chores in the evenings and on the 2 days our househelp is off duty.

This year, I started coaching 2 evenings a week, which has interrupted our regular evening schedule. So we’re having more gadget-free time on weekends to make up.

5. Internet and social media detox

Some time ago, I got off WhatsApp for almost 12 months. By the time I reinstalled WhatsApp on my phone, I had detoxed myself of constantly checking updates or responding to messages.

This year, I exited most WhatsApp groups and left only the pertinent personal and business ones. Even then, my WhatsApp is on a business line…so I can ignore it when I need to and in my free time.

Luckily, I’m not a big fan of social media and I’m only active on Facebook. Even then, I don’t have the app on my phone so I have to power up my computer to access it.

There was a time when I used to check Facebook many times a day. Today, it’s more of a tool for connecting with my few friends (I have about 230 friends as I write this article) and for business purposes.

Social media is like a drug. If not used properly, it will take over your time and reduce your productivity!

Related article: How to Create Time for Yourself

What if you’re not in control of your time and/or schedule?

I do understand that taking control of your time may not be possible, especially if you’re employed. However, the truth is that you do have control of some hours of the day. You can take full control of those hours and create a schedule for them that works for you!

For example, I had a client who’s boss used to make her run around in circles most days. When we examined her situation, she realized that the boss rarely comes to work early. So she had 2 hours in the morning to herself. She started working on her most important tasks in those 2 hours and hit ALL her targets in a short time.

You too can do the same and carve off time in the mornings or evenings depending on your schedule, kind of work, and priorities.

Over to you…

Wouldn’t it be great if you could start taking control of your time? Before you do that, you need to first identify where you’re wasting it.

Some big time wasters include the internet, social media and WhatsApp, watching TV mindlessly, or hanging out in pubs or clubs more than you need to. Also check out when you do things like gossiping, complaining, or blaming others.

You’ll be amazed at how much time gets wasted in a day or week. And yet most of us complain that we don’t have time for ourselves, our loved ones, or our goals!

If you’re struggling with time management, let’s talk. Click here to request for one of the Strategy Sessions that are available for women in business or leadership.

If you qualify for a session, we’ll have a 1-hour chat. We’ll look at your current schedule and activities and identify where you waste time the most. I’ll then help you work out what you can do to reduce wastage and manage your time better.

(Image credit: Unsplash)

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