We all have the same amount of time to expend each and every day, so why does it seem like some people have mastered their time better than others? As Assistants I think we struggle with this quite a bit.
No matter what we do, whether we work in the corporate world or manage our own company, finding ways to manage a good balance between work and your personal life can be a challenge. Over the years I have come to realize that it’s not about the time at all, I think it’s about how we manage ourselves. My friend, Pam Vaccaro (www.designsontime.com) says it best, “It’s about your focus!”
I know from my own experience, making a few simple changes have made a huge impact on my effectiveness and stress levels. I tried several different options and settled on the system that worked for me. I find it much easier to balance my workload and still create boundaries that allow me to have a personal life as well.
One of my biggest faux pas was thinking multi-tasking was a good thing. I would work on a client document while I was running another client’s color postcards on my laser jet and another project on my copier, only to find that somewhere along the line the copier jammed, or the laser jet ran out of ink, and I was overwhelmed trying to juggle them all. I don’t believe our brains work that way. Since I stopped multi-tasking, I get so much more done, and feel more energized and effective.
I’ve also been guilty of creating a sense of urgency where one may not exist, or not being clear with a client who gives me an unreasonable deadline. Since I’ve taken back that control, managing time is much simpler. By increasing my level of communication, I also avoid having to spend time solving problems. They just simply don’t exist. Finding out how people prefer to communicate, by email or telephone can also help keep your lines of communication open and maintain the best balance by making minor adjustments in how we communicate with each other.
I try and be more aware of the time I’m spending on non-income generating emails, too. That was very difficult for me since a lot of my client projects and communication come through email. I used to cringe when I’d look at my watch only to find I’d spent several hours going through social media or volunteer emails that didn’t need to be handled right away.
For a while, until it became a habit, I used a basic kitchen timer on my desk and allowed myself a specific amount of time, at the beginning of the day, and at the end of the day, to handle these emails. My life feels so much more organized now; it’s truly amazing how these few simple changes have made a profound impact on the way I manage my time.
So give several of these options a try or come up with a few of your own, and see if you can’t transition your focus to better manage your time and work/life balance. And remember to enjoy your life to the fullest; it’s not just about business!