When it comes to owning and running a retail store and online business, we often hear that there never seems to be enough time in the day. In fact, no matter what your role is in life, time management is one of the most important skills to develop so that you can be productive and keep your sanity.
There are so many courses out there that teach you “everything you need to know” about time management, but just like our philosophy at Modern Retail (creating an e-commerce business is not a one size fits all solution), creating a solution to help you manage your time is not one size fits all either. People are inherently different, so what works for some may not work for others.
Following are a few thoughts for you to ponder on what your style of time management is and what might work best for you.
For some people, planning out each moment of the day is the key to staying on track. Noting appointments on a calendar and keeping lists is essential to keeping organized and getting things done. I personally love creating lists because I love the satisfaction of crossing items off the list.
Back in the days before technology went wild, I was a fan of the Franklin Covey Day Planner. Everything went on my calendar – if it wasn’t there, it didn’t get done. I had the two-page a day calendar, so appointments went on one side and “To-Do” items and notes went on the other. Things that didn’t get accomplished in a day got transferred to the next day (or week).
Then came the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Appointments were stored electronically with contacts and important “To-Do’s” stayed around until you checked them as complete. Today, our Smart Phones and computers take care of storing all the information electronically. Thank goodness for Google calendars that can be viewed from any device!
I still like lists – but I teeter between physical paper lists and electronic ones. I tend to go with electronic ones in general for work, but still pull out the paper for spontaneous lists (cleaning, shopping, things to do on the weekend etc.) or lists for my family. There’s still something satisfying about dragging that pen across the paper to cross off an item that fills me with a sense of satisfaction.
Baby Steps or the Full Project
When it comes to approaching our goals and managing our time, my husband and I are complete opposites. Both of our days are equally jam packed, but when I have an extra 15 minutes, I may start a project knowing that I’ll add to it as soon as I can (as long as it’s not top priority). If there’s a pile of papers that needs to be sorted through, filed or pitched, I’ll do what I can in that 15 minutes. Over time, it eventually gets done.
On the other hand, my husband won’t start a project unless he can finish it. Needless to say, I often get frustrated seeing his project sitting there untouched, but in the end, when I least expect it, he carves out time to get the job at hand done.
Whatever your style, know what your goals or projects are – both short term and long term – and set yourself a deadline on when you want it completed. If one method isn’t working for you, try another and see if it might work better. (My husband and I keep trying to get each other to try the other’s approach, but so far no one is budging.)
For some people, there are so many things to do in a day, there’s not enough time to write it all down. It becomes a matter of crisis management – whichever project is the biggest, whichever client is the most demanding – that is the item that takes priority. When you’re in this mode, it’s often difficult to get out. You can feel frazzled and down because you feel like you’re not getting anything done.
Cut yourself a break. Take 10-15 minutes each day (maybe while you’re having your first cup of coffee) to think about and prioritize your projects, tasks or other things that need your attention. While it seems as if everything is top priority, in reality, there are probably only a handful that truly are. Set a limit for yourself on how much time you will spend on the top 2-3 priority items. Also, figure out what you can tackle quickly and easily and pick a few of those to pound out so you’ll feel good that you accomplished something.
And if you need to, it’s okay to ask for help. While I tend to be the “if I don’t do it, it won’t get done right” kind of person, after 13+ years of marriage and too many years in the business world than I care to admit – the truth is that things do get done and they do get done right – even if my hands aren’t involved. They may get done differently, but as long as the task is completed satisfactorily (or better), that’s all that matters.
The Zen Approach
I have a good friend who used to say the following words whenever she was running late: Time expands for me. Whenever she did, time would actually seem to expand for her. Traffic lights would turn green, elevators would arrive quickly – sometimes people she was meeting with would be late. I’ve adopted this mantra and shared it with others and I have to say, it really does work. Try it and see what happens.
If you’re familiar with the concept of “The Power of Intention” sometimes simply setting your intention at the beginning of the day is all it takes to have a productive day. Whether you meditate in the morning or write down your objective on a post-it note, it really can affect the rest of your day. I’ve entered in my Google Calendar: “Today I am productive and fruitful,” and then forgotten all about it. Interestingly, when I do, I find at the end of the day I’ve crossed off more than usual on my list.
Whatever your personality style is, there is a solution to help you become more effective at managing your time. Try different things or maybe a combination of approaches. See what works best for you. Reward yourself at the end of the day when you accomplish a big goal. I have a friend who created a Bingo Board of her goals or to-do items. When she got a row across or down, she rewarded herself with a treat. A little motivation goes a long way!