Some days, my to do list gets the best of me. But other days, I conquer it, and it’s the best feeling ever!
I have recently been trying a new strategy to get things done. I’ve been challenged to keep track of my time throughout the day to see ensure I’m making the most of my day. So here is how it’s worked for me!
1. MAKE MY TO DO LIST THE DAY BEFORE
Before I end each work day, I have a reminder set on my phone to make this to-do list. It’s the single best thing I do during my day for my business. Having my to-do list gets me pointed in the right direction from the moment I sit down at my desk in the morning. The days I fail to do this, I could spend an hour easy, working on things that just aren’t priorities or aren’t business-related at all. Even if it’s responding to emails in your inbox, write it down so you have an accurate look at what you need to do.
2. LIST TIME ESTIMATES NEXT TO EACH TO DO ITEM
This has helped me to not get distracted in the middle of a task or waste excessive amounts of time. Without a boss keeping watch, this is easy to do! But, if my handy dandy list said it should take me an hour for a particular item and I’ve barely put a dent into it 45 minutes in, I know I’ve got to buckle down. I’m pretty competitive so I find it really exciting and motivated to keep going when I’m taking less time than planned. And when I’m over my predicted time? I know to get moving. This also helps me keep realistic expectations for what I can do in one day. No more feeling bad about not accomplishing everything on my impossible to-do list. The second number is the time it actually took me. This helps me make realistic estimates in the future too!
3. WRITE DOWN EACH TASK WITH TIME STAMPS
On a separate sheet, I write down each task as I work on it and how long it takes along with the clients name that the task is for. There is a bit of overlap here with keeping track of time, but I’ve found it very helpful when I don’t remember how long I’ve been working on something because my timesheet has my start time. The purpose of this sheet is predominantly to see how much time I spend on projects to make sure I’m charging the right amount, etc. But it has be SOO helpful!
Click here to download my simple timesheet. The categories are pretty del-explanatory except two.
Job Code. I use this column to categorize into the following categories: Design, Marketing, Blog Posting, Packaging, Business, Client Correspondence.
Client/Project. Each client goes by the year, month, first initial and last name (ex. 12ILJames). When a project is complete, I look over the time spent to make sure it has been profitable. If it has not, I adjust! If it’s business items instead of client work, the client is VMP! This helps me gage how profitable certain marketing aspects are.
I’ve fine tuned this process a bit since I posted the photo above on instagram. I’ve found I can fit more than one day on a sheet so I now highlight a yellow line to separate the days.
BONUS: This may seem simple OR like busy work, but it can really work! Checking every single item off my list for a day NEVER happens to me! Lately it as been. The day I wrote this post, I had extra time just to write a blog post and I was also able to hit the gym and do 60 MINUTES of cardio. This NEVER happens either. And because of my workout, I had tons of energy to do a bunch of chores I’ve been needing to do around the house. It was a no brainer, I spent the 10-15 minutes it takes to plan my day for tomorrow. This has transformed my days! I also now end my day with between 0-5 emails in my inbox.
I’d love to hear your tips for how you stay productive. If you implement this plan, how has it worked for you and any tips to make it better?