Time management and burnout go hand in hand. If you are trying to do too much, distracted and don’t have a clear plan you are stoking the flames of burnout. With a few quick fixes in your routine, you can extinguish these flames! Read on for four easy steps to better manage your time and keep burnout away.
Let’s get one thing clear, good time management does not mean every second, every minute, is filled with something to do. Good time management means having a healthy balance of scheduled time and free time. This is where so many women get caught up. We feel the need to be productive at all times. If we’re not doing something on our to-do list, it feels like wasted time. This is a mindset I have struggled with for years. To avoid feeling completely overwhelmed and exhausted, good time management means taking a break and allowing ourselves to have some free time.
If you want to do it all (and you can) implement these time management tips. You will complete your to-do list and not get burnt out in the process!
Step one: a monthly planning session
The first thing you need to do is have a dedicated monthly planning session. Set aside about 30 minutes at the beginning of the month. Spend this time reviewing your appointments and commitments for the month. Look at your goals and determine specifically what action you want to take over the next four weeks.
Start to schedule your time and plan when you are going to work on different tasks or projects. Burn out happens when we leave everything to the end of the month. A monthly planning session at the beginning of the month will help you avoid this.
Step two: set weekly priorities
On Sunday, I set aside about 15 minutes to look at my monthly schedule and determine my priorities for the week. I write down the top three priorities for each day. Sometimes they are all work focused. Sometimes my priority includes going to a spin class and cooking a healthy dinner.
There is no right or wrong thing to put on your priority list. The only rule is that the three things on that list take precedence over everything else. They are the three things that must get done that day.
If I ever get stuck on what to put on my list I ask myself “when I go to sleep at the end of the day, what will make me feel accomplished and satisfied?” Or check out this blog post on how to set simple priorities for the week.
Step three: write a better to do list
Having a to-do list, and sticking to it, is a huge help if you are trying to find a better balance of time management and burnout. The best to-do lists are full of short and easy to accomplish tasks. My trick for writing the best to-do list is to remove the word ‘and’ from all the items on my list. If I have the word ‘and’ in a task, it becomes two separate tasks. My list becomes much longer but it is full of easy to accomplish tasks.
For example, writing this blog is one of my monthly tasks. I could put on my to-do list “complete blog post.” Instead, breaking it down, removing the ‘and’ from my list, I have each task of the blog written as a separate item on my to-do list. So, it looks like this:
- Outline blog
- Draft blog
- Revise blog
- Edit blog
- Add images to blog
- Publish blog
Yes, the list is much longer than if I only wrote “complete blog post.” But now I have smaller, more manageable tasks I can get done. Checking off each of these tasks as I go helps me feel accomplished. When I feel accomplished, when I know I am making progress, I don’t get burnt-out.
Step four: Find 15 minutes
The best part about having a longer to-do list, you have smaller tasks that each take less time. You can start getting things done in only fifteen minutes. I bet you can find fifteen minutes in your day to work on your to-do list! What if you set your alarm a little earlier? What if you put down the phone or turned off the TV a little sooner? You can find these small chunks of time throughout your day. If you think it’s not possible or you’re stuck on how to get control of your time, join me March 21 for a five-day challenge to Master Your Time and Money.
Step five: Set a timer
Distraction is the enemy of productivity. You’re working on writing a report for work and the inbox dings so you go look. Before you know it, it’s twenty minutes later, you’ve dealt with the email but the report is only two lines long.
What if someone looked at your internet browser? Would they see a focused women clearly working on one topic? Or would they see a smattering of websites including the local news, at least two online shopping carts (none of which you will actually buy), a dream Air BNB rental in California (you’re not going to California anytime soon) and one or two sites actually related to what you’re working on? I get it, this is my web browser all the time.
When I need to really focus and make better use of my time, I set a timer. Everything gets turned off or put away. For fifteen or twenty minutes, sometimes thirty if I’m feeling extra productive, I focus on the task at hand. No distractions allowed!
A timer provides a structured time frame. You know there is an end in sight, and it’s not that far off. When the timer does go off, sometimes I keep going, especially if I’m in a good flow. Other times, I stop working and let myself go peruse gorgeous Air BNB listings and imagine my next vacation. At least now, as I scroll online, I have already completed something on my to-do list.
Bonus time management tip: color code your digital calendar
I love color! Often color is to make things more fun and cheerful. But color can also be used to keep things organized. When you’re organized it’s easier to see what you have going on and where you are spending your time.
Color-code your digital calendar! In Google calendars you can add other calendars, name them, and pick a color. I have my calendar broken down into eight categories. Health and Wellness is where I put my doctor’s appointments, self-care appointments (like getting my hair or nails done) and my workout classes. I have a category for family events. I have one category for Abby Lee Coaching and another for my full-time job. Each category is its own color.
At a quick glance I can see where I am spending my time in a given day or week. Being organized, having a clear vision of what your day holds, is an easy habit to build to prevent burn out. If you’re unsure how to color code your Google calendar check out this quick You Tube video.
Finding the balance of time management and burnout
Here’s the key to be successful with your time, don’t try and change everything all at once. Pick one of these tips and give yourself a week or so to try it out. Figure out if it works and adjust as needed. After a few weeks it will start to become a part of your routine. Once it feels normal, you can try another tip. So go ahead, get started today! Which tip will you start with? Let me know in the comments.
If you are looking for support in better managing your time, book a Power Hour session with me today!