Time management is one of the most difficult things to get your head round as a designer. Deadlines looming, working from home (opens in new tab) with distractions, family commitments, clients requesting amendments... it can all get a bit much.
While there are many techniques to managing one's time, I find that the simple approach works best - at least for me. But works for me may not work for another, plus, things change, so being able to adapt to any situation is important. With that in mind, let's take a look at some ways to help you beat procrastination (opens in new tab) and better manage your time.
01. Use a calendar
Whether you opt-in on a digital calendar, like Google Calendar (opens in new tab), or you prefer to go old school and use a daily planner (opens in new tab) or wall calendar (opens in new tab), there really is no better way to help manage your time.
Remember, though, it takes time to keep it up-to-date, and you need to be diligent in checking it daily. Up until recently, I used a wall calendar. However, I discovered that a digital calendar offered me a lot more options – like daily reminders and the ability to always have it with me.
02. Make a to-do list
Okay, I won't lie... I'm not a list maker. To be honest, to-do lists intimidate me; but many people absolutely swear by them. To-do lists are a great way to keep track of what you need to do each day. If you write down the estimated time for each task, this information is really handy in helping you prioritise them.
Asking others for assistance is okay. Repeat: it's okay! When you delegate, you're actually managing your time in one of the most efficient ways possible. Granted, you can't delegate everything, but take a look at your task list; is there anything o that someone else can do for you? More importantly, is there anyone who can do it more efficiently? If so, consider delegating that task so you're free to work on other things.
04. Understand the power of yes and no
'Yes' and 'No' are a powerful words. In fact, did you know that you can't use one without using the other? That's right! Every time you say 'yes' to one thing, you're saying 'no' to another.
Time is not infinite. We only have so much of it before the sun sets at the end of the day. Be selective in what you agree to do. Understand that saying 'no' is perfectly acceptable.
05. Take breaks, often
At some point, you need to recharge yourself. If you're like me, you'll forget that even the most productive person needs a break. I once attended a conference where James Dempsey (opens in new tab) spoke about going AFK (away from keyboard) and taking time for yourself and for your family. His touching story about the relationship between him and his dad was something I needed to hear. Now, because of his talk, I take more time for myself and my family. The picture above was taken during one of my breaks.
06. Use software to help
I mentioned calendars and to-do lists, but this article would be remiss if I didn't provide a few options for how to manage them. While this list is certainly not all inclusive, it will give you a starting point.
- Fantastical (opens in new tab): An excellent way to manage your calendar. I use it to keep my personal appointments in order.
- Trello (opens in new tab): I use this every day to keep my tasks in order – everything I'm working on gets a Trello Board. I can share my boards with other team members so we can all participate in getting the job done.
- Google Keep (opens in new tab): A fantastic, easy-to-use list app. Use this through its website via the iOS or Android App.
Managing your time isn't easy, especially when you have a lot to do, or a lot of people counting on you. It can run even the strongest person into the dirt. But with a little structure and maybe some digital help, even the busiest person can be happy and productive.