“How do you find the time?” — A guide to getting shit done
I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. I’m the VP of Marketing at GO1, I cover the NBA for Starting5Online, I have an art project with New Zealand artist Leon Taylor called Unseen Monsters, and I love to get out and travel and see as much of the United States as I can with my partner.
I am constantly asked how I have time to do all of these things as well as take on more projects, so I thought I’d share a few of my tips for how I manage my time, to hopefully encourage more people to make the most of their time, and starting creating more awesome things!
You might not think that you have any free time, but you actually have a lot more than you might think. There are 24 hours in every day — take away 8 for sleeping, 8 for work, and 4 for travel and eating your meals and exercise, and you still have 4 hours left. Generally, most people will use this time for watching TV or playing around on the internet, but if on 3–4 days during the week you set yourself some tasks, you can get some serious shit done.
I love working on all of the projects I am currently doing, so pretty much every day you’ll find me maximizing any time that I have. I always try to give myself Friday night off to have a rest, but will spend one day of my weekend putting a solid chunk of time into my work so I can get some momentum rolling. This might not happen every single week because you have things going on with your social life, but if you can find at least 2–3 nights each week to get stuck into things, you’ll see some serious progress.
Once you have got some time allocated to be able to get some work done, the next step is to make sure you are productive during this time. The best way to do this is to take your project down into a series of smaller task that you can complete in one sitting. This could be writing a blog post, creating some images, editing video or photo, or doing some planning or promotional strategy. But by breaking your project down into smaller tasks, what might seem like an insurmountable in the beginning, soon becomes very achievable, and in a much shorter timeframe that you may have previously thought.
I have found this as a great way to work though complex projects and to keep the momentum going with your work. After you get those first few tasks under your belt, you’ll also start feeling like you’re getting somewhere which only helps to increase your motivation and spend more time working towards your goals.
I know what you’re thinking, this all sounds well and good, but it’s also a lot of hard work and how the hell am I going to keep up with all of this. We’ll there are a number of very basic tools that can make your project, and life, a whole lot easier to manage.
Use Your Calendar
If you are not already using a calendar, START NOW! It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, as long as it lets you track your time. I use Google Calendar which is synced up with my Gmail account and on my phone, but you can use which ever application works best for you.
As we’ve already discussed, time management is the key to getting shit done, so making use of your calendar to manage your time is the key to being efficient. Enter your nightly social and exercise events into your calendar, and then start adding in blocks of time for when you will be working on your projects.
Once you have broken down your project into the smaller and easier to manage task, these should be then allocated a specific time slot in your calendar. This this forces you to set goals, and work through each of the task in order to complete your overall project. Even if you can complete 3–4 of these tasks every week, you will notice that you are starting to get a lot done very quickly.
Start Using Trello
In conjunction with your calendar, the best way to track each of the tasks that make up your project is through some through a basic project management like Trello. Trello is free and very easy to use. It allows you to have all of your tasks listed and as you start to work on them you can move them between columns. For example; you could have a Backlog, In Progress, Review and Completed. Tasks would move from left to right across the board as they are completed until they are all in the completed column. Once all tasks are in competed, your project should be ready to launch!
This allows you to keep track of what you’ve finished, progress all of your ideas, and if you have multiple people working with you, it’s great for tracking everyone’s progress and ensuring that everyone is working together and sharing the load.
Now you have all of your time management processes worked out and tasks allocated, it’s time for the hardest thing that you’ll have to do. Sticking to your schedule.
To begin with, it may be hard to get into your routine of sitting down and working through some tasks a few times easy week. But like anything, the more you do it, the more it becomes habit, and the more you grow to love when this time comes around. The important thing is to stick at it, and don’t give up. It will be tough and is a lot of work, but just remember that the end result will be worth it.
Now I’ve talked about how you need to make the most of your time, but the final thing that I want to tell you is: make sure you have downtime! The last thing that you want to do is burn out, so no matter how much fun you might be having working on things — make sure you take a night off to watch a movie, go to the gym, hang out with your friends and most importantly; get some sleep!
If you don’t do these things, you will burn out and not enjoy what you are doing. Remember this is a long term plan, and not a sprint — so you need to make it work for you and your life.
I hope you have found these tips helpful, but if you want to chat about anything that I’ve mentioned, or learn more, hit me up on Twitter!