Any career that involves freelance work or being self employed requires a lot of discipline. I have dyspraxia, which, amongst other things, is not exactly useful in terms of time management and organisation... Luckily in university one of my tutors passed this method on to me, and it has become one of my favourite ways to organise my time. This is based on a technique from Stephen Covey's book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People called the Important/Urgent Matrix - its a really simple idea and really works!
First you need to make your chart...
-Divide your chart into four sections.
-Then label the chart: Important, Not Important, Urgent, Not Urgent - exactly as you see above.
The next thing to get straight is the difference between Urgent and Important.
IMPORTANT: Activities that help you to achieve the personal goals you have set for yourself. This means everything that is important to YOU, so includes your work and your home life!
URGENT: Something that must be done quickly and NOW - these are often tasks that are given to you by other people/tutors/banks and rarely help you in achieving your personal goals. Important tasks can also become urgent tasks if you leave working on deadlines to the last minute!
-Pop the chart up on your wall and use post-it notes for each thing you need to get done.
This means you can use it again and again, and also you get the satisfaction of ripping down the post-it notes each time you finish a task!
Now to explain the chart sections...
Section 1: URGENT and IMPORTANT
This is the section that usually demands the most of our time. It's the pulling-an-all-nighter-for-the-big-deadline-tomorrow things... The things we absolutely can't put off any longer. The thing about this section is that if it's too full it's actually the least productive way to use time, because it means constant panic, rushing and stress. It also means we spend less time on the things that are less urgent but very important in building your long term goals (see section 3).
Section 2: URGENT and NOT IMPORTANT
The place for those things that you have to do but really don't care about. This is the place for paying silly bills and solving other people's problems. It's the things that are not important to us, but prevent us from doing the things that are. It's best not to let things sit in this section for long.
Section 3: IMPORTANT and NOT URGENT
The happiest section of all! This is where you ideally should focus your attention as it is where you will really help to achieve your long term goals. It's where you might put extra career research, or development of your craft or hobby. It's also where you should put keeping up with family, friendships and relationships. Unfortunately, this section often gets overshadowed by section 1, but using this chart to visualise this should help to balance your time out!
Section 4: NOT IMPORTANT and NOT URGENT
The realms of procrastination! Things that are distracting you from doing all the other things that you need to be doing... This doesn't mean you can't devote any time to them at all... Just, again, think about the balance!
This has ended up being quite a wordy post... but hopefully it's helpful for some of you! I used to get so frustrated with myself because of my slow work rate, but its amazing how much more efficient you can get with a few simple tricks. Improving my time-management has actually really improved my quality of life!
Does anyone else have any tips they swear by?