I’m trying to get organised, to get more out of my day without having to resort to three hours’ sleep, as one of my partners does. There’s a lot of material about time management and plenty of sensible advice on Web Worker. David Allen even coined his own phrase for getting things done.
I’m suggesting the following approach for time-poor, web workers who mainly work on their own:
1. Get on top of your email. Watch Merlin Mann’s semantic video. I love the idea of checking my email only once an hour. I am putting this into practice as from tomorrow.
2. Make Lists. If possible, have daily ones. If not, a weekly one will do. I find Who / What / When Lists really work. Park actions some place special. Either online, using any variety of online tools like Backpack, Basecamp, Twitter or the hybrid Remember the Milk. Or do what I do – use paper. Just cross things off as you’re done.
3. Delegate when you can. Even if you work on your own, like I do sometimes, you still need to get your lists done and identify whom you need to interface with. You will be surprised by how many of your actions are dependent on those of others.
4. Get selective with whom to talk to. Turn off MSN and Google Talk for a period of time. Go invisible on skype. Turn your mobile on vibrate. Sometimes, just turn it off. People can text messages to you more efficiently than spending 10 minutes yabbing about it.
5. Unclutter. If like me, sometimes you have problems walking round your office, it’s time to file things or dispose of them. It helps to occasionally empty the waste paper basket and shred paper.
6. Walk around your room. This is especially useful for people with a bad back and puts you in the frame of mind to get things done. If you know some Pilates, this is invaluable for a five-minute break from your laptop.
7. Decide whether you’re a morning or night person and allocate your work load accordingly. We cannot be productive for the whole 24 hours. I try and get meetings done in the morning and I prefer to do the brain work at night, when I know I am most alert. If you still need to decide what kind of person you are, read this book.
8. Decide whether you need background noise or not. Some people need total silence to focus. Others need a hum. I tend to use Groove Salad Radio from SomaFM. I make sure it’s on if I’m writing.
9. Sometimes, remember to get some quality time to recharge your batteries. Watch a movie, talk to your loved ones, exercise, read a book instead of Wilfing.
10. On those days when everything seems to get on top of you, and you risk ‘panic paralysis’, it helps to stop. You’re not alone. There are millions of others like you, right now, battling with hundreds of things, trying to prioritise, and make a living. It also helps to read this occasionally to improve your confidence and get a sense of perspective. On focusing on what is really important in life.