I try to maximize the number of things I can do in a day. I’ll give it the old girl scout try to pack it all in, which sounds aggressive… but it actually includes everything. A nap if I want/need to nap, a trip to the dog park for an afternoon with Teddy, time with Garrett, phone calls with my mom. It’s just a matter of prioritizing: saying no when you need to say no, making sure you make time for the people you care about most, and (very important!) giving yourself the time to regroup.
For better or for worse, my days are completely different. My schedule actually gives me anxiety, so sometimes I’m bad and don’t check the next day until the night before. Regardless of when I find out what I need to do the next day, I always start with the obligations.
I map out my days carefully around what are set times and what I’m obligated to do that day. Let’s say for example… I have two meetings scheduled (10 am downtown and 4 pm nearby) and it’s a hair wash day (aka add 45 minutes to my “getting ready” routine) and I have a dinner planned with Garrett and don’t want to work too much afterward. Then there are the regular tasks like emails and writing. The best way I can describe my method is to use an example of a fake day of how I would schedule one day.
I start with the meetings. I need to leave my apartment at 9:20 to get down there in time. I know that I’ll want to get in a solid hour of catching up on social media (Pinterest, Tumblr, reading blogs, and responding to priority emails, etc.) before going to the meeting. So call that 8:20. I also need to walk Teddy for thirty minutes, 7:50. It takes me an hour and a half to get ready (shower, makeup, dress, and– ugh hair day– my hair), 6:20. Knowing I’ll also want a cup of coffee while I’m working and getting ready… I’ll add in a ten minute grace buffer, 6:10. So basically that’s when I’ll set my alarm. No snoozing! (PS I walk Teddy and then get coffee– extra hot– when I’m still bed-headed so that I’ll have coffee while I get ready!)
At that point, I know my morning is basically over. I’ll get back to my apartment by 11:40 (hour for the meeting, another 40 minutes for traveling back).
Then I start the process again for the 4 pm meeting. Luckily this one is around the corner so I can leave my apartment at 3:50 and be back in my apartment by 5:10.
Between 11:40 and 3:50 is when I’ll get the bulk of my work done. Most of the time that means keeping up with emails… say, 11:40-2:45. I’ll probably be banging my head against the wall, so I’ll take Teddy to the park for from 2:45 to 3:35 and then walk back to my apartment to head to the meeting.
I typically ask Garrett to meet me at my apartment for dinner at 7 pm so I can get even more work done between my meeting and his arrival. By 10 pm, I’ll grab my laptop and sit on the couch with G while we watch a movie and work until he yells at me to stop working (midnight or 1 am).
I write out the schedule the night before. In this case, I’ll have a skeleton schedule with a to-do list on the side:
6:10-6:40: Walk Teddy
6:40-6:50: Get coffee (call mom!)
6:50-8:20: Get ready
8:20-9:20: Work (emails, Pinterest, Tumblr, catch up on blogs)
9:20-10:00: Travel to meeting
10:00-11:00: MEETING #1 (downtown)
11:00-11:40: Travel back to apartment
11:40-2:45: Work (refer to to-do list)
2:45-3:35: Walk to dog park and play at dog park (call mom!)
3:35-3:50: Walk to apartment, drop Teddy off, get ready really quickly
3:50-4:00: Walk to meeting
4:00-5:00: MEETING #2 (uptown)
5:00-5:10: Walk back to apartment
5:10-7:00: Work (refer to to-do list)
7:00-10:00: Dinner/play with Garrett
10:00-midnightish: Finish up working (refer to to-do list)
My to-do list might look something like:
Answer 15 Tumblr Questions
Get through starred emails (can take anywhere between three and seven hours… yikes!)
Write blog post for next day
Write blog post for afternoon
Call with so and so
Edit photos for an upcoming post
Something related to my accountant and/or lawyer
+ anything I didn’t do the day before
Tip #1: I maximize efficiency by drafting emails while underground on the subway or get in a little bit of reading on the way down, or (if I’m extra-stressed) do prep work/review for the meeting on my way there or follow up/initial first steps on the way back.
Tip #2: I always call my mom while I’m walking somewhere. Definitely in the morning on my way to get coffee and probably while I’m out walking Teddy to the dog park in the afternoon.
Tip #3: Sometimes when I’m desperate and really swamped, I’ll pay for a cab instead of a subway so that I can have cell service and rapid fire out emails or take phone calls. The $15 cab ride is totally worth it then.
Tip #4: Once a week, I make sure I have no meetings until 2pm if I have meetings at all. Those mornings are the best because I’ll take Teddy out to Central Park off-leash at 6:30 in the morning and then spend a luxurious hour in Starbucks reading (newspaper, magazine, or a book… whatever I’m in the mood for!). I swear those mornings are like GOLD to me.
Maybe I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to getting stuff done, but I really really value being efficient and making sure I get everything done (including time with Teddy and my friends and time for myself).
What are your time management tips?