How to Effectively Manage Your Time

How we schedule our days and how we manage our time is important to figuring out how to produce at a high level. How to get a whole lot of stuff done in a short amount of time–and, at the end of the day, to not feel as if you’ve spent hours without accomplishing anything.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As a creative professional and a woman with a corporate day job, finding balance and time to be productive in both areas of my respective career choices is wholly dependent on time management. So, how do I do it? How do I write and publish books and work a demanding day job? Simple.

Batching.

Think about the tasks you do in batches. Laundry, running the dishwasher, grocery shopping for the week. These are usually things you accomplish in one day. At my house, Sunday is laundry day. Everyone understands their clothes or any other articles they want washed need to be in a designated hamper by Saturday night. Grocery shopping gets done on Saturdays, and we buy for the entire week. This is also planned ahead of time using our Amazon Echo. We purchase exactly what’s on our list, then, throughout the week, tell her what we aim to buy for the next week.

“Alexa, do you know the muffin man?”

Chew on this: If batching comes pretty easy with laundry and grocery-shopping, why not apply it elsewhere?

For instance, as a paralegal, I do a lot of drafting — pleadings, letters, discovery, demands — all of which can pile up real quick on my “To-Do” list. Rather than flying from one thing to the next and back again, however, I do everything in batches. One category at a time. How do I accomplish this? By planning out my week.

On Monday, I may write down, “Discovery,” and answer 2-3 sets in one sitting, one right after another. What happens when you do this is that your brain sinks into an easy pace of tackling the same thing for 1,2,3 hours or however long it takes to complete those tasks that are similar to one another. On Tuesday, I may do nothing but write demands in the morning, eat lunch, then switch to client calls in the afternoon. The idea is to batch each set of tasks. Not only do they all get done, this process gives me more time to focus on other things. Plus, at the end of each business day, I feel much more accomplished than if I’d stopped what I was doing to give attention to each new task.

How many lawyer jokes are there? Only three. The rest are true stories.

This is not to say that you won’t have to do just that from time to time. Some situations come up and they’re on fire and you have to drop what you’re doing. However, under normal circumstances, setting designated times to accomplish things like answering emails (whew, that’s a big one) will yield a much better result for your productivity.

As a creative, batching gets a little tricky. If you’re putting yourself out there on social media, you can pick one morning during the week to make a month’s worth of Instagram posts. The next day, you may write 4 blog posts, then schedule them out, one a week, for a month’s worth of blog posts.

If you’re a writer, like me, I find routine is the only way for you to take yourself–and your writing–to the next level. I’m a morning writer. Which means every morning I get up and go straight into routine: shower, coffee, noise-cancelling headphones, rereading the last thing I wrote and setting into writing for at least an hour to an hour and a half (if not longer). Every. Single. Morning. Even on weekends. And, let me tell ya: the coffee and noise-cancelling headphones are just as much a part of the routine as the actual writing. These steps let my brain know, “Hey, it’s time to write.”

Writing is 10% typing and 90% staring at your computer trying to find a better way to describe someone eating a piece of toast.

Do you HAVE to do this? Heck, no. Look, EVERYONE is different. That’s what makes us all so special. This is simply what works for me and what I’ve found keeps me on track, whether I’m drafting legal documents for my day job or drafting my next novel.

xoxo – Alyssia

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