Following on from the 'For Love And Money' event, I have been thinking a lot about time management. Time vs Quality too. It's quite clear that as freelancers and creatives we put in a lot of voluntary time to ensure our work and outputs are of quality. It's also quite clear that we work multiple jobs to sustain the costs of living - a portfolio career as they call it. But how do we manage it? How do we manage multiple jobs and multiple hats as well as inputting voluntary time too?
Well, I'd like to introduce you to a video by Ted-Ed called 'How to Manage Your Time More Effectively'. It's a short 5 minute video that focusses on the computer science of scheduling and boy! it was helpful. I initially watched the video a couple of months ago and, without realising, it has really influenced how I work from home. It wasn’t until I re-watched it a few weeks ago that I realised that I’ve actually implemented a few of these already!
“One of the first insights is that all the time you spend prioritising your work is time you aren’t spending doing it”
Hallelujah. Someone said it. This is a universal problem (at least for all the freelancers I know!) and something I struggle with. Writing the list and ranking the list takes away from the time actually implementing the task. Something I particularly struggle with is having to work on multiple task management platforms. Not only do I write the list on a bit of paper for myself... I will then have to write it on Asana or Trello or even in an email. It's really quite time consuming. Something I need to practice is inputting the tasks directly into the task management tool where other team members can see it so I don't have to write it more than once.
By writing lists more than once we doubling or even quadrupling the amount of time it will take to get done.
However, what I have begun to do is select tasks / jobs almost at random instead of spending time ranking them or flitting about from one email action to the next almost instantaneously. Whilst flitting about from job to job and being super responsive with emails may impress whoever I'm replying to, I've learnt it's not the most productive way to work. It is a good way to make myself feel overwhelmed, confused and stressed! And is also a good way to turn your 4.5 days into 7 days!
In the video the speaker talks about Productivity vs Responsiveness. Being responsive doesn’t always mean that you are being productive. And I feel like that should be my quote of the year.
"Being responsive doesn't always mean that you are being productive"
To keep the balance between Productivity and Responsiveness the video asks us to create Priority Buckets rather than a long ranking list of tasks. And this is what I have begun to do. I have begun to minimise my context switches and push interruptions aside (much like how the video describes). “Rather than dealing with things as they come up the system groups these interruptions together based on how long they can afford to wait”. And that's the thing, things can afford to wait.
Things can afford to wait.
One of my key learnings from this video is that we don't always have to be super responsive. We have to pace ourselves and remind ourselves that not everyone expects or needs an instant reply.
Since watching this video I've begun to implement things I was unaware of. Another example would be that each of my working days from home are now (usually) sectioned into 3 different Priority Buckets (3 different jobs). I spend around 3 hours on each bucket and I use that time to respond to emails and complete tasks related to that bucket. I ignore interruptions until they are relevant.
Relevance and context is key.
Thanks for reading, Molly Out.