Most people working at a day job from 9-5, will be vying at self-employed person thinking that self-employment means freedom. Freedom to do things whenever you want with absolute control over time. But once you switch to self-employment you will soon find out that freedom of time is a myth. Unless you master the art of flowing with time you will never be able to find time for things you always want to do in your life.
Whether you are self employed or working in a day job, time premises remain the same. If you cannot understand how to effectively make use of time, you will soon find out that even if you work 24 hours a day, you will still wish for an hour more per day.
I will not give you any time management techniques here, because time is unrelenting and uncontrollable. You have to manage yourself and not time. Self management is what people call time management. Time flows non-stop, you just need to manage your actions to contribute to the things you want to do in your life.
I have seen both worlds of employment and self-employment. Whether it is employment or Self-Employment, we are effectively working only 2-3 hours per day on average. What happens to rest of our time in the day?. Most of our time flies by unnoticed on small things. A minute here waiting for something, minute there chatting with someone. Thousands and Thousands of small things take up our time unnoticed. It is like death by a thousand small cuts.
Apart from that we take up so much time getting ready to work. Starting from waking up, getting ready, commuting, reading online, breaks, more breaks, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, winding down, commuting and the cycle repeats. Though this grind essentially needed for doing the work, this is not the actual work. The actual work you do takes only like 10% to 15% of your day. This average usage of 10% will not change in the long run, though you can increase temporarily during tight deadline projects, where people can crank up to 12hrs of real productivity.
Our goal here is not to increase the time usage per day, but just to get clear and be efficient in using this small amount of actual time we have.
Explore the following technique to make better use of time. Try for yourself and see if it works for you. It is easier to implement if you are self-employed, but employees can also try to implement in varying degrees as per their work schedule.
First step is to list all the things you are doing now and wanted to do. You can include anything from your day job, business, hobby, exercise, reading, spending time with family, attending your kids’ school event regularly.
Building this list may be more difficult than you think. Once you start listing you will be faced with fear of how you are going to do these in your lifetime. Ignore the fear, spend 5 mins and just list all that you are doing now or wanted to do. Listing does not mean you need to do it all.
Don’t worry about leaving anything out. Just write down a list of things that come to your mind now. You can always add later. This is just to take it off your mind that was bugging you for a long time and its time to face it straight on paper.
Have you listed ?. Congrats. Now strike off the things that you are not very excited about now. There may be some things you were initially excited but not now. These ex-exciting may be still bothering you for not taking action. Clear those off, if it is not exciting enough it is not worth pursuing it.
Next take off those things that is not inline with what you want to achieve in life. To find this out, ask yourself if you spend every day of your life doing this and you reached a certain level, will you be happy and make people who really care about you happy ?
Now group similar things in a single group. For Eg. If you have some new hobbies you want to try out, group them into Hobbies. If you have personal things like reading, exercise, mediation group them to Personal. If there is a single big thing like your day job or a big project, leave it as it is ungrouped. The aim here is to minimize the total number in the list to less than ten things, grouped and ungrouped.
Allocate each thing a one or more days in a week. For eg. If you have a group called PERSONAL, which includes things like reading, meditation, exercise you may allocate Saturday of every week for it. So for every Sat your theme for the day will be focusing on doing these personal things. This does not mean you need to do only personal things. You can still do other things, but whenever you have find time or free hour you will try to do your personal things.
Take each group or thing and assign one or more day for it. Once assigned to keep that thing as the main focus for the day. Do something related to that thing of the day. This will keep the thing running without losing momentum.
These four steps will clear up uncertainties and provide a solid base for you to make progress on those long deferred things.
You have one whole day to do the thing. So even if some unexpected things pop up during the day, you may have still time left to attend to your main theme for that day.
You know the answer when your mind asks when are you going to do A?. Your mind is constantly questioning you for an answer. This internal question if not answered properly will lead to frustration and stress. As you have allocated a day of the week you will always have a satisfactory answer when you mind fires you this question. Eventually your mind will stop asking about A as it knows when A will be attended to. This will help calm your mind and reduce a lot of stress.
You know what to do when you get a free time in a day, you know exactly what to do, instead of mindlessly spending on activities that you may not enjoy.
What if you slipped and you did not focus on thing that you have allocated for today. No need to fret and beat yourself up. Don’t aim for 100% compliance and give up. In the long run if you achieve 80% you are moving forward than someone who aimed for 100% and gave up.
Let me know your version of this and how it worked out for you.