Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Life Hacks - How to Map Your Time

I was chatting with a colleague recently who was struggling to fit everything in and getting a bit overwhelmed with, well, life in general I suppose. I asked her how she maps her time for the week and she told me she didn't. I was, honestly, really surprised! I thought everyone would map their time in one way or another. 

I showed her my week by week map I use to map out my time and my tasks and she said I should share it in my blog it is! 

*apologies it's slightly larger than the page!

So, essentially, as you can hopefully see each day is broken down by the hour and each day is split into work and family. I then add my codes from the table below.

This allows me to allocate EVERYTHING which needs to be added into my working week. 

I use the calendar to map...

Clients work - To ensure I have allowed myself enough time to deliver the work I map all work to last letter and always give myself some extra hours to allow for contingency

Business growth and general management- All the things I need to ensure I keep my business in a healthy position. This includes;

  • General admin and invoicing
  • Marketing - Blogging and reading other blogs/keeping on top of any changes 
  • Servicing - Looking after my clients

Personal - I map everything I need to keep on top of in my life including:

  • Children - extra curricular activities, school activities as well as downtime
  • Life admin -doctors appointments, dentists, banking etc
  • Exercise -I like to ensure I allocate hours to exercise weekly and it is so much easier if you plan when that is going to happen
  • RR-which is my time to relax.

The key to a good time map boils down to the following:

Leave no stone unturned! Make sure you map EVERYTHING that needs to be done no matter how small it is. It will help manage stress levels knowing you have everything planned for and the time to do it.

Be realistic - Don't allocate an hour if you know it takes two. It isnt realistic and will throw your plan out of balance

Be flexible - If things need to move, switch don't sweat it. Just decide which item is least important for that week so you can bump it off the weeks plan and move it to the next week

Keep on top of it - Keep the plan open and stick to it. Ensure you do a new plan each week. You will find some weeks you have more time for rest or maybe exercise of time with the children because you have less life admin that week etc. 

Remember YOU are in control!

There are 24 hours in a day and you CAN fit everything in (although I get it means life can be very busy) if you are organised. Just remember to work with a bit of give and take and ensure you balance work hours and life stuff on your plan. My next plan is to colour code and weight work and home stuff to ensure i'm balanced but i'll keep you updated on that one!

If you still struggle with time management and think there are not enough hours in the day why not talk to us about how we can help and OUTSOURCE some of your work to us. We can manage your home life with our PA and Concierge services or support your admin needs with our admin support services. 

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Monday, 6 June 2016

How to maintain a work/life balance.

I've just returned from a fantastic week with my lovely little family in my favourite place ever, Croyde Bay, North Devon. 

We had a great time, we were so lucky with the weather and we had some real 'down time' as a family.

<< < My kids Ella (7) and Jack (2) enjoying the lovely sunshine outside our trailer tent.

We go to Croyde several times a year and I always make sure that, whilst I am there, I am with my family 100% and not at work. 

I think that is SO important and a decision I made very early on in my business. In fact, it was one of the main drivers for setting up on my own so I could maintain a work/life balance.

I love my business but I also love my family so it is important to me that I give them both equal amounts of attention. This can be a tough balancing act BUT it is more than achievable and i'm going to share a few of my tips on how you manage it!

1/ Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan! You cannot possibly start to fit your work and life commitments into one day, one week, one month without knowing EXACTLY what you need to get done. I always begin my listing everything which needs to be done (work commitments and family commitments) and then assign those tasks with how long each task will take. You are then in a position to break that down and plot those tasks into your planner. I literally plan by the hour. Everything from food shops and school runs to any client stuff which needs. Once this is all in front of you in black and white you can make sure you have the right amount of time for each task. Personally I just pop the tasks into an excel spreadsheet by the hour but there are loads of apps which can help with this too.

2/ Do not over commit. The temptation is always there to take on more work. Whether you work for yourself or for a business there will always be the temptation to do more work. More work inevitably means more money. Don't get me wrong. More money is marvelous but not if it throws your work/life balance off. 

3/ Use a time tracker - I always track my time using Toggl for all my accounts. It helps me understand where my time goes and whether I am allocating adequate time for tasks when I do my initial planning. It also helps understand whether you are quoting for a job correctly once you know how long these jobs actually take. 

4/ Build downtime in- You cannot maintain a work/ life balance if you are maxed out and stressed to the hilt. You really need to find a way to unwind so you feel ready to face whatever your day (whether that is work or family) has to throw at you. Some people like a bath, some go for a run, some read a book. I like to exercise and I like to sit down with my husband and watch an hour of TV. Everyone is different but I make sure I build those little things in to my day so I feel like i've wound down.

5/ Try and fix your hours - It really helps to know when your working day starts and ends. Especially if you have young children. Having a clear cut off means you can turn your attention from work to your family. Being able to do this comes down to point 1 - Plan, plan, plan, If you have planned your hours your work should be done!

6/ Do a time audit - Is there anything sapping your energy? Is there something you dread having to find the time to do every single week? Take the time to do a little audit. 

  • I hated having to do the washing up four billion times a day. I bought a dishwasher which cut that time down and made me happier (it's the little things!) 
  • I also had clients who's accounts were taking FOREVER but not paying anywhere near enough. I had to address this and get this sorted. 
  • I was going out at 1pm to get my son (as he napped in the afternoons so I could work) every day and going back out at 3pm for the school run. This was counter productive so I changed my sons hours till 3 so I now do one trip. Such a little thing has made a massive difference to my day. 
  • I was giving time up for PTA tasks because I felt I should even though I had no time available. I spoke to the chairperson and asked to be responsible for one task every three months instead of the ad-hoc volunteering. That way I could build the task into my plan. I was still helping but there was more structure to my helping. Really take a look at how productive you're being with your time. It'll help!

7/ Get some sleep. Poor sleep means poor productivity. If you are tired you are not going to be as focused or productive as you can be. Try and ensure you get sleep and some early nights where you can.

8/ Outsource! If you are thinking 'okay i've read all this and there are still not enough hours in the day for me to fit everything in' why not look at outsourcing some of your tasks. Whether you need a PA or concierge to take some of your day to day household tasks off you or someone to take on your pile of admin we will be able to help, Why not check out our services.

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