Becoming a Time Management All Star

Achieving all-star status as an athlete, entertainer, or chef may mean you’re the cream of the crop, worthy of the special attention and accolades reserved for the “best.” But those of us seeking all-star status as a “time manager” are not in it for the glamour (although some free swag and a devoted fan base would be nice!). We’re in it so that we can do what we want to do – all that we want to do! Even if that means we have to sacrifice some comforts, drink some extra coffee, and lean pretty hard on our support system.

I thought I needed time-management skills when I worked full-time in a busy marketing communications department, or when I was in college or grad school. Now, with a 6 month-old baby, freelance work, household duties, personal relationships to maintain…oh gosh, there’s more on my plate than ever.

What does it take to be a Time Management All Star? To be really savvy with schedules, to cross things off the to-do lists, to have time to just do nothing? While I might have a better answer in about three years, and I’m clearly no expert on the subject, I’ll share what I think it takes…

Desire. Indeed, we must want to improve, maximize, and learn. I think a basic willingness to move out of your comfort zone, come up with strategies to improve your daily processes and communications, and rework old systems and schedules to work more efficiently is absolutely critical. You have to want it badly enough to make the necessary adjustments. I’m so motivated to tackle it.

Realism. Along with the willingness to push ahead to make it all “work,” it’s inevitable that some things will be compromised – and we’ve got to accept this if we want to manage our time better. While I don’t want to re-structure my values (my top priority will always be my family, for example), I may have to reframe some of my expectations. I may need to get to bed really late or spend less time cooking dinner some nights. My efforts to make time for more things means some things have to “give,” and it’s not always going to be easy.

Family. To help me get it all done, I really have to depend on my family. My husband supports me in every way, and my brother has been babysitting whenever I need him – and I am so thankful. I’m getting better at asking for help and accepting it. My entire family and all of my friends support me, too, but the people who can be here in person to help me take care of my daughter while I work on my 1,476 tasks are really making the wheels turn!

Professional Network. If it weren’t for my friends, friends’ referrals, former coworkers and their referrals, business associates, LinkedIn, Facebook…I’m not sure I’d be making the connections I need to get the work I need when I need it. These resources have saved me time and have taught me so much about freelancing (and/or parenting!) – and have made it easier for me to work quicker and smarter. I hope that as opportunities come my way, I can send them back around again!

Organization. I’m still working on this one! I need more of it.

The Little Things. Caffeine, short naps, iPhone apps and games, the DVR, grocery delivery, a nice walk…just a few of the little things that help me keep on keepin’ on!

Have I succeeded with time management today? Actually, no. I spent too much time on this blog post, too little time on actual (billable!) project work, and spent more time following up on odds and ends than I should have. But I’ll stay up late tonight and try to organize my day better tomorrow. I’m learning, and I’ll become more efficient as I go. Someday, I may be a time-management All-Star; in the meantime; I need some more coffee and some multi-tasking skills.

Actually, maybe what I really need to become is a Multi-Tasking All Star…?!

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