I have a colleague who runs a wildly popular blog, teaches online classes, and somehow manages to travel for about three months out of every year. That’s right, friends, three months. Clearly, this woman has access to some closely guarded secret to super-efficient time-management, right?
I pressed her for details.
“Honestly, I just force myself to work long hours for a couple of weeks at a stretch. I pull a bunch of 14-hour days and pound out a ton of content so I can relax later!”
This system is ideal for her since she’s unmarried, has no kids, and is a total nomad at heart. Plus her business structure is ideal for pre-population and setting everything to autopilot.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t possibly structure my working life like that. Just one 14-hour work day and my life begins to unravel! Talking to her was a fantastic reminder that time-management is deeply personal, and what works for one person might be a disaster for another.
Which is why it’s essential to understand your time-management personality.
Types of Time-management Personalities
There are as many ways to manage your time as there are stars in the sky, but most of us have one of five core time-management personalities:
The Deadline Devotee: You procrastinate until the very last minute, then race to the finish line. The work is still fantastic, but the journey isn’t terribly efficient.
The Daily Grinder: You put in the same number of working hours Monday through Friday, regardless of how much work needs doing. This means you end up chained to your desk on days when you could be out and about.
The List-maker: Every task, project, and goal is popped onto lists and into spreadsheets. This helps you feel organized, but can also lead to overwhelm.
The Marathon Fan: Like my powerhouse colleague, you like to work in long, intense bursts. You’re generally happy, but when emergencies pop up they can throw you for a loop.
The Improviser: Your time-management style is, “I’ll just deal with things as they come!” A fabulous strategy for entrepreneurs with amazing working teams, but harder for solopreneurs.
Which personality sounds most like you?
Are you happy with how you’re managing your time and workload?
If you feel like you could stand to tweak your methodologies, ponder these tips:
Time-management tip #1: Consider your daily schedule
Understanding the flow of your work and life schedule is essential to creating a time-management system that truly supports you. So give this some thought:
Do you have long, unbroken work hours?
Or are you always jumping from task to task?
Is each day totally different, or do you have some built-in routine?
Effective time-management means making your work days as predictable as possible AND having failsafes in place so you can cope when unpredictable things happen.
You will need structures and tools that help you achieve both.
Time-management tip #2: Experiment with tools
Once you’ve figured out your typical workflow, investigate and tinker with some of the most popular time-management tools and methodologies.
Read the descriptions and reviews carefully so you find a tool that actually matches your needs. Most will help you chart and track work tasks, which is key to the routine-building component of time-management, but if you need more help with unexpected work be sure to pick a tool that includes reminders and communication tools.
Here are a few to consider:
Monday: A robust online tool with a visual timeline and team communication capabilities. (Great for both The Improviser and The List Maker)
Toggl: This site is more of a time-tracker, so ideal for folks who juggle many projects at a time and need to see where hours are being spent. (Awesome for The Daily Grinder)
Getting Things Done: This five-step process was developed by productivity expert David Allen. His site has great guiding materials to get you started. (Honestly fab for all personalities!)
Pomodoro: A technique that focuses on bursts of productivity, usually 25 minutes spent working followed by a short break. (Super for The Marathon Fan)
Rescue Time: This online program sends you weekly reports so you can understand where you’re spending too much (or not enough) time. (Will help Deadline Devotees and List Makers)
Invest some time in experimentation to see which one feels natural to you!
Time-management tip #3: Use what works
Just because all your friends are wild about Toggl doesn’t mean you absolutely must use it yourself. Again, time-management is deeply personal, and the best tools are the ones you will actually use. If that means old-fashioned pen-and-paper, go for it! If you want to chart everything out in Google Calendar, do it!
No matter how sleek and impressive the system is, if it doesn’t compliment your specific personality, you just won’t use it.
Want to know my biggest time-management hack?
Delegation! Hand off the work to trusted team members, and discover just how productive you can really be. If you’re not sure how to get started, be sure to check out the VA Training Templates Library. Inside, you’ll find dozens of step-by-step project plans you can hand off to your VA today.