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Productivity / Time management tips

The time management plan that worked

You’re going to question whether this time management plan works, because it is so outrageously simple. But often the simple things are the best. So if you want to give business chaos a swift and solid kick, read on.

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I’d been working hard: around the clock, in fact. But for all the knuckling down I was doing, my traditional weekend ‘hammock and tequila’ reward was fading from my routine. Work, it seemed, was everywhere, and I wasn’t any the richer for it.

How could this be?

In short, my billable hours were being ruthlessly invaded by ‘the other stuff’: Reading and replying to emails, tending to telephone calls, the quick bit of advice some client wants, a project to be quoted on, processing invoices and generally shuffling around paper like a poker dealer at 3am.

I knew the answer wasn’t to suddenly put a stop to this other stuff. The key was to be aware of it. I mean REALLY aware of it before I could take meaningful steps towards slapping the bugger back into its rightful place.

"In short, my billable hours were being ruthlessly invaded by ‘the other stuff’."

So these are the steps I took and I can highly recommend this time management plan to anyone struggling with stuff:

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

1. Work out a goal of how much you want to earn in reasonable terms over the next 12 months.

2. Calculate how many billable hours you need to do per week and then per day in order to achieve this goal.

3. Buy a diary or the equivalent gizmo with one day per page and lines for every half-hour.

4. Note down every hour – if necessary, every half hour- what you are spending your time on.

5. Tally up “other stuff” time and billable time at the end of each day.

6. Tally up “other stuff’ time and billable time at the end of each week and see how you’ve gone with reaching you goal.

7. Do this for at least two months and look at your weekly tally for a pattern.

The tallying was a useful aspect of my time management plan, but the process of writing down what I’m doing every hour has been gold. The awareness of time-use has allowed the solution to come naturally. I’m now conscious of when I have to stop answering emails, for example, and work solidly for the next three hours on the job at hand so I can reach my daily and weekly billable goal.

I have personal projects that aren’t going to earn me billable hours, but hopefully some profit in the long-term. So as part of this time management plan I factor time into the diary for that work and write down the time I actually do spend on it. And, yes, tally it up for the week.

One final confession: I’m actually number-phobic. But I’ve wobbled my way through this, and am so proud I’m off to celebrate. How? With my hammock and tequila, of course.

What time management plans have worked for you? Please tell us about it …when you have time.

Megan Hills

is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys helping others be engaging and understood. Through her marketing, publicity and graphic design nous, she can maximise the power of what you want to communicate to the people you want to reach.

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