Today’s post was sparked by a question that I asked on my Instagram and that was simply, “What does your day consist of?”. Anytime I ask you all a question, I will answer it as well. But I couldn’t answer it as well as I hoped to because I still have not gotten a grasp on how the heck to manage my time as a “full time blogger”. I’ve said it once before but I was SO much more productive when I had two jobs (working full time and blogging on the side) than now when I just have the one.
I know it can’t be just me that struggles with staying on task and time management because I get asked all the time “how I do it all”. Or at least I did whenever I was working full time and blogging on the side. But to be frank, I am just now in a place that I feel like I can speak to that question. Funny enough, it’s when I don’t have a full time job taking up all of my time. In fact, I have ALL the time in the world.
Maybe it’s because it’s frowned upon to watch an absurd amount of Instagram stories in the workplace or because there isn’t a TV offering to play the newest episode of This Is Us but ever since I started blogging full time, I struggle DAILY to stay on task. Do I have time management issues? Most definitely yes. Although I wake up early, have a planner/notebook glued to me at all times, sit at my computer for 12+ hours a day, and stay up late most nights, the day normally ends with me feeling like I didn’t put a dent in the amount of work I needed to.
The thing is, when it comes to a corporate job, you are normally given a set of responsibilities that you are responsible for each day. You come to work and know exactly what needs to be done. There might not be a start and stopping point but at the end of the day, you know you can pick back up again tomorrow. You don’t go into work with open possibilities and completely free range of your schedule. Most of the time, you also aren’t having to tap into those creative juices.
Having that much “free time” and creative ability is both a blessing and a curse because it can take you in 500 different directions. This is not a great thing when you have a hard time staying on task and completing one thing before your mind jumps to another. I want to work smarter, not harder. And to do that I’m realizing the important of what my full time job taught me. Why I was SO much more productive when I had 2 jobs instead one just one. So let’s start with the basics.
- Write EVERYTHING (yes, everything) down– I always assume “O, I will remember that” when in fact I most definitely will not. Although we literally have several means of doing this at our fingertips (computer, phone, Siri, notebook, etc), it’s easy to assume it’s a small enough task or thought that it does not have the significance to be written down. WRONG. The more you write down, the more accomplished you will feel when you check it off your to do list. It doesn’t matter how insignificant it is, write it down and you will thank yourself later. Taking a shower today? Write it down. Getting dressed today? Write it down. Waking up today? WRITE IT DOWN.
- Plan, Plan, Plan– Even if you have to start out small, plan out your time. Get a planner that suits your lifestyle the best and start planning your little heart out. I am a firm believer in planning out each and every day but if that seems like too much, start by planning out your month. The easiest step to start planning is to write down appointments, important dates, meetings, birthdays, etc. Then try to get more specific with your weeks. Monday- answer emails, Tuesday – plan out blog content, Wednesday- meetings, etc. Then take that one step further and plan out each day in hour increments. I am learning that planning out my days to the exact hour is critical, otherwise I wind up with an endless amount of time which inevitably results in wasted time.
- Get on a consistent schedule – I thought I hated consistency but what I’m starting to realize is that I thrive on somewhat of a set schedule. I actually need a schedule of sorts or I can’t function properly and if I had to guess you are probably the same. Even if it’s so much as making yourself respond to 20 emails before you have your morning coffee, devoting every Wednesday to focusing on XYZ, or putting a time limit on your phone usage, a schedule (and a consistent schedule at that) WILL make you more productive so that you aren’t left wondering what to do with down time. Play with your schedule until you find what works best for you. I have found that I am most productive on Mondays (maybe it’s because I just had two days off, maybe it’s cause I make my coffee extra strong, who knows!), but knowing this, I will always plan more thought provoking or time intensive tasks on Mondays. On Fridays I am not productive at all so I will plan easy tasks that don’t take much brain power to complete.
- Put your phone down– I might as well tattoo this to my own hand. Remember how we used to write things on our hands with cool gel pens in grade school to remember them later? *Insert permanent tattoo here* It is by far my biggest struggle. Some days I will purposely leave it in another room so that I am not tempted to get on my phone. Although my job requires me to be on my phone a lot (and I like to make that excuse for myself), there has to be a heathy balance. If you know that you are not productive when your phone is near you, leave it in another room or give yourself ultimatums. For ex: you have to complete XYZ before you can get on Instagram or you must devote 30 minutes of undivided time to work to get 5 minutes of social media time. I actually just ordered this timer for this reason alone. If you know something is pulling your focus away, learn how to combat it.
- Reward yourself– Remember when you were younger and your parents made you eat all of your dinner before you could watch TV? Or told you that if you made an A you could get the newest toy? Well it worked (most of the time) didn’t it? Adulthood is the same exact thing you just don’t have anyone telling you what you have to do. Now you handle your own bribery and rewards. The thing is if you have something to look forward to, most of the time you are going to work harder and faster to get to it. It might seem childish but it works and now that we are the ones making the call and not our parents, the reward can be way better (like wine!). The trick is setting the bar high enough to deserve whatever reward you are matching it with. For example, complete 20 emails and get 5 minutes of down time would be a reasonable reward not complete 20 emails and take the rest of the day off 🙂
I plan on doing an entire post soon with what a normal week looks like for me but since I know there are a lot of different professions out there, I wanted to share a few tips that could apply to everyones lifestyle. If you have any tips on how to work smarter instead of harder I would love love love to hear them even if it sounds like a no brainer!
In other news, both Kylee and I’s work wear are on sale or super affordable. My dress (get your true size) is under $30 and perfect for work, church or winter wedding! Kylee’s joggers are about the best invention to hit the work force and oh so comfy!