I’ve been talking with some masterminds on my passion for managing time (time is all we really have, right?). They suggested I put all of my posts about time management into one repository for easy consumption by those in need. And, it’s funny that my first post about time management (at the very bottom), still holds true today.
The Time I am Currently Managing
Written on 2/7/2016
Republished from a comment I just wrote in a Facebook group I’m in. It was in response to the Group Leader advising everyone it was a good idea to make a to do list in order to get jobs done and not waste time.
I live by my to do list. I wouldn’t be able to function [without one]. Currently, my work to do list for the week has 17 tasks. And the other people I’m managing has a total of 46! My most favorite form of to do list is the Franklin-Covey method. That helped me get through college and my first job! Now I don’t need the ABC123 to prioritize, but because of it I’ve learned how to automatically!
Another technique I’ve learned is breaking projects into tasks. When a project looks so big, ask yourself, “how do you eat an elephant.” Answer: “one bite at a time!” My team’s 63 tasks actually make up 29 projects that we are actively working on. This allows me to know what stage of the projects they’re on or delegate out a piece of a project that can be handled by a teammate in case another gets behind.
But I even do it personally. One of my current projects is “get new last name on passport.” But I’ve broken it into three tasks so I know exactly how to move forward with it and I can complete one of the tasks every day and feel like I’m moving forward to the goal without waiting for a day where I have the time to do it all at once.
My Happiness Project
Written on 6/3/2015
Who doesn’t want to add a little more happiness in their life?
I finished the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. She is a writer who had a pretty nice life and she felt pretty happy, but there were some things she new that she could/should possibly do to make her life even happier. So she studied the idea of being a happy person, built a plan, and wrote a blog for a year. The book is her ideas/insights that bubbled up throughout the process.
I also am a happy person. And, after reading the book, I am inspired to continue to try to eek out just a little more happiness each day and with each interaction. And I’ve been doing that. And I’m pretty much tickled pink all of the time.
Gretchen offered many strategies to handle work-life balance, life-family balance, and home-outside of home balance. She developed tactics for dealing with clutter, having better conversations with your spouse and children, and how to help start prioritizing how you spend your time with others. It was some pretty motivating stuff.
One of the tactics I had been using for myself for awhile became more solidified after reading the book. I had been trying to figure out when to say yes to activities and when to say no. I had come up with a priority list of how I should spend my time. But then, throw wedding planning and the onset of bathing suit season and my plan went out the window.
But then, the strategies in the book helped me get back on track. And understanding that I need to set time aside for things that are important to me (including wedding planning) to help make sure I do them also relieves any guilt I have when I’m not doing them when I think I should be. If I’ve made the time, I’ll get it done then. It totally helps me focus more on the now and not on the then.
I’ve crafted prioritization categories and subcategories that take some of the weight off of knowing when to say yes to something and when to say no.
Category A: My health
Subcategory 1 – Working out with friends
Subcategory 2 – Working out with my Wah Lum family
Subcategory 3 – Working out by myself
Explanation. My health is my number one priority. If I don’t have that, then getting ahead in my career and living a long healthy life with my Partner In Crime won’t matter much. My goal is to go to Tai Chi and Kung Fu once a week, but, if invited to a group yoga class or kickboxing circuit training with my closest pals, that activity wins. And then another goal is to work out at least three times a week in the morning and once on the weekends with my Bestie.
Category B: My relationships
Subcategory 1 – My PIC (er, now fiance – still getting used to that)
Subcategory 2 – My bestie and closest pals
Subcategory 3 – My Fems
Subcategory 4 – My local web/future village
Subcategory 5 – Orlando handshakes (ie. classical networking)
Explanation. For the other two days of the week I try to spend the evenings with one of the subcategories. If I can combine subcategories, awesome, if I can combine a subcategory with the category of Working Out, even better.
Category B: The Hodgepodge of the Weekend
Subcategory 1 – THE WEDDING PLANNING
Subcategory 2 – The blog writing (which I have been slacking on the past couple of months)
Subcategory 3 – FUN (Disney passholder things, water-based activities, festivals/shows – but, PIC and I have learned that FUN should only take up one day only on a weekend or our next week falls apart because we have no food and clean clothes… those have been crazy weeks)
Subcategory 4 – Upkeeping the house (I can only let PIC clean it so much before the guilt does creep in and I help dust or organize the fridge or something)
Explanation. With less than 100 days left until the BIG DAY, this is why wedding planning has bubbled to the top. And sometimes we don’t follow our own FUN rule and blog writing goes to the way side. But, hopefully, with some of the tactics I’ve learned through the book, we can live a much more happy life and get everything done. Wouldn’t that be something?!?
MIA: Marriage In Acceleration
Written on 5/22/2015
So I’ve been MIA from my blog for a little bit. Missing In Action, or, as my priorities are going, Marriage In Acceleration. I’m engaged! My Partner In Crime asked the question on Valentine’s Day. And, of course, since I’m a planner at heart (media, group activities, my life, etc), we had already determined a date and desired location. So, half of the planning done, right?
Sigh. Yeah right.
Both the Knot and David’s Bridal websites said that I was dreadfully behind. The great thing about these sites is that they break down every part of a wedding into the tiniest detail, which is how I like to make my to do lists anyway. But, out of the 350 things that have to be done, because we want to get married at the beginning of fourth quarter, I was behind on 100 of them from the get go.
Enter my Excel Nerd mind. I literally spent three hours putting all of the to do list items into different categories and responsibilities of research, selection and wallet and built a master excel spreadsheet that put my mind at ease. I have a spreadsheet for every month broken into dated tasks, what has to be bought, and what things just have to be done by the end of the month but at no set time. Now, if someone asks me if I’ve picked out flowers yet, I don’t fret that I haven’t. Because it’s not in that month. I’ll worry about it when it hits whatever month I figured it made sense to do it. No worries.
So while the date keeps creeping up, my priorities on blog, clubs, life have shifty-shifted. Do I write my blog post? Or do I research caterers? Do I work on the website, or do I finish the minutes from the last board meeting? Wedding is winning every time.
But now, I feel with the Memorial Day three-day weekend ahead of me, and my P.I.C., er, fiance, still at work (yay to my work for letting us all off early), I felt I could creep back into my blog world and say hello and that I haven’t let it go. There’s waaaaaaaaaay too much stuff I’ve done and learned this year that’s still stuck in my head waiting to get out. And it is getting too full in this brain of mine.
So I’m back. Book reviews, leadership training, research read, commercial consumption analyzed, and bridal gown shopping blogs fighting in my head on who gets to come out into the blog first. It’s quite a battle in there.
Make Each Day Great
Written on 5/13/2012
Gary C. Sain was one of the hardest working men in the hospitality industry. He was known for packing more into a day than most of us do in a week and I have fond memories of him walking around the rock garden of YPB&R while on conference calls in order to get his number of steps in for the day.
He thought the world of his family and had his youngest daughter intern in almost every department at the agency so she could get a feel for agency life. He also thought of the agency as his family and took care of us with some of the most amazing rewards we could possibly imagine through his connections throughout the hospitality industry. His infectious laugh, his sense of humor and his comfortableness with wearing that elf costume that one Christmas, made our environment feel a lot lighter.
With his move to Visit Orlando, I really missed his presence at the agency but he was always willing to stop for a second at industry events and ask how I was doing. One of the last times I saw him we were hopping onto Soarin’ at EPCOT during MPI-WEC and he stopped a moment to say he was interested in hearing my opinion on how meeting planners are consuming media.
But the greatest impact he has had in my life is unfortunately the fact that he is no longer in it. I attended his funeral on Saturday and the event struck a dormant cord of living life completely to the fullest, and appreciating every moment and every one who you are spending it with, and having no regrets, because tomorrow may never come and so you need to make each day great.
Thank you for continuing to read my blog as I continue on my life’s journey. I wish you all the best in your own life and I am grateful that you read my entries and visit my site each week and let me be a part of it.
Franklin, Monkeys and Seeing the Trees: Tips on Time Management
Written on 4/10/2011
Right now, my to do list is so long that I have to scroll down my excel spreadsheet to see it all. It’s a lot to keep track of, and sometimes my days consist of putting out fires and hot jobs that weren’t even on my to do list in the first place. So when I do make it back through all of my unread emails, and add more to my to do list, how do my eyes not gloss over and not get anything done?
ABCs and 123s: Prioritization
I’ve been lucky enough to attend several seminars on time management and one of the ones that has stuck to me this day is the Franklin Covey system. It helps me figure out what I actually have to get done today – because it all can’t be done at once. If something has to be done this week or it could be the end of: a client relationship, a co-worker relationship, or your own job, mark that task with an “A.” (Yes, I’m over-exaggerating, but if you start marking everything “A”s then you’ll still feel as overwhelmed as before this exercise.)
All tasks that you think would be great to get done this week so you could feel ahead of the game, mark with a “B.” All other tasks get a “C.”
The next step I actually have switched up away from F-C, but I’ll share F-C first and then my actual next steps. With F-C, you then mark all of your “A” tasks with the order in which you’ll perform them, and then the Bs and so on. For me, when I’m looking at 10 “A” tasks, I still need some extra steps to prioritize before I know what order I’ll perform them. I first calculate how many minutes I think a project will actually take (5? 15? 120? We’ll get to the 120 minute projects a little later). Then I have another column that I write in Hot, Old, and New. I then use my excel skills and sort the tasks first by the ABC column, then by the Hot, Old, and New column, then by the minutes it will take to do the task. My list now automatically tells me what to do first instead of me wasting time trying to figure out which order to perform my tasks. And speaking of wasting time…
Monkeys or Time Sucks: Real Time Management
There are tasks we have in our jobs that make us wonder, “is there any way to do this smarter?” Well, usually, the answer is “yes.” The act of doing these tasks the hard or old way is sometimes called “Monkeys” in some seminars… I call them time sucks. Either way the time feels wasted.
Where I work we’ve recently killed some monkeys when we realized we were doing way more for a group of clients then we actually should be. We had gotten into some routines that were basically killing (or sucking) our time away from us doing things that would actually move campaigns forward. Luckily, I work with smart, talented, and tired people and we’ve gotten some monkeys off of our backs. I encourage anyone who wants to talk more about tedious processes and procedures and how to reduce them in your lives to hit me up.
Seeing the Trees… and Keeping the Forest in Mind
Now back to those 120 minute tasks. Are you really doing one thing solid for 120 minutes? Or are you doing one thing, then another, then waiting on someone for feedback or answers, then going back to it and doing more of something else, then getting confirmation on something, and then finishing it up? Ah ha! You have just discovered the micro-tasks. Do you ever put off those long projects because you don’t think you have enough uninterrupted time to do them? If you break them up into more pieces that take 15 minutes here, half hour there, etc, then you might realize you have the time to at least start working on these projects instead of thinking you have to wait for after hours or a weekend when you’ll have an uninterrupted moment.
What are any helpful tips and tricks you use for your own time management? Hey! I shared with you! And I always like to incorporate new ideas that I learn along the way.
Managing Time, Part 1
Written on 4/3/2011
Work feels way busier now than it used to feel. I remember when, for media planners, fourth quarter planning for the following year was crazy and then the rest of the year was used for maintenance, reviewing new opportunities to save for next year, and working on new business and small side projects that come up.
With the change in the economy and the testability of online, year-long plans are a thing of the past. Some of my clients still don’t have their budgets worked out for 2011, some only give seasonal budgets in order to optimize the next season’s plans based on the results, and some had a year-long plan and every quarter it’s completely changed because their business/the environment has changed.
So this is leaving us in planning mode all year long. Plus, online is never set it and forget it, so we’re optimizing and pumping out reports on a continual basis. And we’re starting to find that juggling it all is creating a workload we’ve never seen before. It’s overwhelming.
And while this is happening to us, I see it also happening with creatives, account people, even our accountants. Everyone has to kick up their efficiency in high gear and create more output than ever before.
Luckily, I’ve had the chance to attend Franklin Covey seminars, supervisor seminars, and other workshops on time management. I have actually found that, if I could have any job in the world, I would be a consultant for people to help with time management and help companies figure out more efficient processes for producing work. I’ve seen so many people look at their to-do list and get frozen in figuring out what to do next and what’s the highest priority. I’ve seen companies get stuck in bureaucracy and take twice as long to get something done, or not be able to get it done at all, because “it’s the way they’ve always done it.”
I want to share with you some of my lessons I’ve learned through my busy life. But alas, it looks like I’ve run out of room for this blog post (trying to keep it always under 500 words so you’ll keep reading them). So check out next week’s post where you can get a lesson on ABCs, 123s, monkeys/time sucks, and micro-listing.