From someone who has uni, a job, a blog and also aims to have a social life!
We all have 24 hours a day yet some people achieve so much more than others, everyone works at their own pace and gets to their end goal at some point but since quite a few people have asked me lately how I split my time into different projects I thought I’d jot down what works for me. I’m by no means a profi at this and I’m sure I could probably still work on my productivity and focus, but we’re all just little humans trying to get on! So here goes…
Everyone knows good planning comes from good stationery…right?!
My number one tip to anyone wanting to be more productive and better at time management is to find -and hold onto- a planner that works for you! Having a planner really does keep my life in order and is my starting point in juggling work, studying and everything in between!
Along with my planner I always keep my notebook, they come as a pair and most mornings I expand on the ToDo’s in my planner (usually from the day before) in my notebook. There I can look at everything that I need to get on with and go from there.
Being cruel to be kind.
It sucks but if you’re wanting to be at your optimal productivity you’ve got to be strict with yourself. This means on the days that I’m working from home I really timetable what I’m going to do and when to make sure that I stick to my list, don’t get carried away with other things that pop up throughout the day.
It’s never too early to start.
Work days mean work! I’ll wake up semi-early to get the most out of my day and make sure I’m in the right frame of mind to get started. In terms of planning ahead, often when I have an article deadline coming up in a week or two, I’ll start as soon as a thought, sentence or idea comes into my head, I have endless notes and drafts on my laptop, but ordered in the right way this can be really useful in getting content up on time to fit in with deadlines or to be scheduled in advance.
Prioritising is your best friend.
You will quite honestly just internally combust if you try and do everything that’s in your head all at once so write it out, breath and then start being reasonable about what you can do.
In a morning I get my trusty notebook and brain dump everything I can possibly think off on it into categories of ‘work’, ‘home Uni’, ‘semester abroad Uni’ and ‘life admin’ The category with the longest list is then naturally where I start my focus for the day. Then, I number about 5 things at a time in order of priorities and add a time limit goal. I usually say to myself, okay let’s see if I can get these first things done by 9.30, for example.
Without prioritising I know that I’d be so much less productive and would definitely stress about my deadlines a lot more, so this one for me is a must!
Take a break
I’m not actually a fan of a long lunch break, when I’m working from home I tend to use my lunch break as a way to answer any email replies that have come back since the morning and tick off some little bits and pieces. But I do think It’s really important to take breaks between different tasks and make sure you’re using your time effectively. I’ve found little headspace breaks for even 3 or 5 minutes to be an absolute godsend and allowing myself some music on in the background every now and then to wake myself up also helps massively! Don’t underestimate the power of breaks and don’t me too mean on yourself!
Focusing on things that bring you joy.
Essentially, no one is forcing you to do all this work. My work and studies are both completely self-driven, if I don’t put the hours in, I won’t get paid and I won’t achieve what I want to in my studies. This being said, it’s really important to me that whatever I’m doing is either my passion, challenges me or is really interesting. You don’t have to love every little task you need to do but you should feel passionate about the majority of the things you do. You’re bound to be more successful when you’re enjoying yourself and I think this is so important in feeling good at the end of the day.
Time for bed.
There is an end to the day even if the list hasn’t stopped or just seems to be getting even bigger. In busy times we can all be guilty of sacrificing sleep to fit more into our days but this really isn’t the answer. I’m not immune to missing out on sleep but am making a conscious effort to get better at switching off and making time away from work in the evening. This one is a tricky one, but one really worth bearing in mind…
My week pre-moving abroad
Monday– up at 7.30 and start working at 8am. Started by doing work emails I’d missed over the weekend, and decided to do a full work day for the company I freelance out to. I also did some serious life admin I’d been putting off. Despite sticking to work tasks I still brainstormed all TTR bits I needed to get done and moved them to Tuesday’s morning brainstorm the next day. I finished my work day about 5.30pm and then did some more TTR writing in the evening as well as a workout.
Tuesday – up at 8.30 and working for 9am. Tuesday was a day mainly comprised of Uni preparatory reading and forms to send back to my home Uni as well as one Skpe call for work. I did the majority of my packing and last minute ordered some course books online for my Uni courses in the Netherlands. Tuesday was really productive in a study sense, I also set up an appointment to register in the Netherlands the next week. Then, because I was under a real-time pressure, after dinner and catching up with my family, I worked from about 9.30pm to 12.30am. Not to be completely advised but I was on a roll and knew I was up against it in terms of time.
Wednesday– up at 7.30 and working for 8am. Naturally more tired this morning but was driven through by knowing it was my last full day of work before leaving the U.K. I did a lot of freelance hours on Wednesday, to prep for the next week as I knew I’d still be really busy settling in and managed to get 3 posts scheduled as well as 2 TTR posts scheduled and ready to go. I also finished my Uni prep reading and wrote up some notes from the Skype meeting the day before and planned some interview questions for a meeting the following day.
Thursday– Went down to Manchester to stay with some family and did about 3 hours of work including one Skype meeting, as well as the usual email checking and final bits of admin for moving to the Netherlands.
Friday– up and off to the airport to fly to Amsterdam! No work Friday, Saturday or Sunday due to working so flat-out the beginning of the week and giving myself time to settle into my new home and enjoy my first few days as much as possible.
As a result of the focused hours I put in, I managed to get a hell of a lot of work done in what was basically 3 and a half days. I knew at the beginning of the week that I had to get my shit together and work hard but also work in a clever way so that I wouldn’t burn myself out or start worrying about the move. Of course, there’s always more to do but I was happy with how the week went and it set me up really well for the next week and a half.