Last week my husband was feeling extremely overwhelmed.
He is currently running his own start-up, managing client projects for Authentic Audience, and has a lot of things on his to-do list.
Like many of us, he is wearing many hats and it is easy to lose control of our time.
I sat with him for just 30 minutes and since then he has implemented my method and “feels less anxious, less paralyzed, and more productive.”
With just 30 minutes a day and no task management tool, here is my go-to method for staying focused, productive, and in control of your time.
All you need is your emails, notes app, and calendar.
Ready? Here we go.
Step 1: Email Triage
Every morning, I spend 15 minutes going through my emails. I clean up junk mail and reply to emails that take one minute or less. If it is going to take you more than one minute to respond, mark it as unread, and keep going. Do not stop and get distracted looking for a file, or writing a lengthy email. This is triage, we will get back to them soon.
Step 2: To-Do List
Now that you know what is happening in your inbox, it is time to open your notes app and make a to-do list. I break mine down into 3 categories:
- Personal: i.e. making a doctor’s appointment, filling a prescription, etc.
- Finances I.e. paying any credit card bills, reviewing invoices/proposals, transferring money, etc.
- Work: I break this down by client or by project in order of priority.
Now that I have my to-do list in front of me, I make a note of what I need to prioritize today or this week and roughly how long each task will take me.
Those emails marked as unread, they get put into my to-do list. i.e. respond to Katy re: retreat agreement (15 minutes).
Step 3: Time Block Your Cal
Now that I have my list of tasks, timeline, and priorities, I open up my calendar. It is important to be realistic about how long things are going to take you.
I typically have between 2-4 calls per day, which are already scheduled. So I can see how much time I have each day to tackle to-do list tasks.
Then I time block in terms of priority.
If you haven’t already, set your hours first. I time block between 10 am-5 pm. Those are my “working hours “ that I have committed to and I only schedule external calls Tuesday through Thursday.
Boundary Blocking is everything.
This is how we take control of our time. When do you want to start and end your day? When do you want to take calls vs work on projects, spreadsheets, or emails?
Here is how I boundary block:
Monday’s are blocked for internal calls and Authentic Audience tasks.
Tuesday-Thursday is when I get the bulk of my client work and calls done.
Friday is blocked for personal and internal projects.
Now, you can time block accordingly. I block down to the minute.
Then, with my inbox clear, my to-do-list prioritized, and my calendar time blocked for the week, I dive in.
At any given moment, I only have one task on my plate.
Right now for example. It is Monday at 1:30 pm. This hour is blocked for me to write this blog for you. So this is all I am thinking about. I can stay focused and present with what I am working on and give it my all.
Then, maintain daily.
Life happens, and priorities shift. If something comes up in the day, I can easily move a task to later in the week and still make sure to block plenty of time to get it done.
At the end of the day, I also do a quick 15-minute email triage, where I look through anything that came in throughout the day and add it to my to-do list for tomorrow.
Then I close my laptop, feeling caught up and in control of my time.
Since implementing this method, I no longer face the same overwhelm, spinning tasks in my head, and general anxiety around the time that I used to.
I dare you to try it and see how good you feel.