There just never seems to be enough of it.
After sleeping, eating, exercising (maybe), grocery shopping and paying the bills, how much time is actually left for such career essentials as practice, planning your next recital and preparing student lesson plans?
And here I am preaching that you allocate some of your precious, limited time to maintaining a website, creating and engaging on social media and various other marketing and PR pursuits!
In todays world, it’s no wonder that the vast majority of technological advances, devices and apps are designed to save and increase time, one of the most coveted commodities that we all crave more of in our daily lives.
A simple Google search of the phrase “how to save time” yields approximately 26 million results, emphasizing further our obsession with making the most of the finite amount of time we have on this planet.
So what’s new about what I have to say on the subject of time?
Probably nothing, given the aforementioned 26 million search results.
But I do want to share my own personal revelation because I am also trying desperately to figure out how I can be as productive as possible. None of the knowledge or goals we acquire are of use to us unless we can actually execute them. And personally, I find that time is the biggest excuse and obstacle that I face.
The Revelation: AUDIT YOUR DAY
After struggling to maintain sanity with my mounting business, music and personal responsibilities, I started to write an old school “to do” list every morning.
It’s a timeless and foolproof classic, right?
Not so much. While it helped a little, it wasn’t working consistently or effectively despite every single article or book calling for this style of pre-planning organization.
What was the problem here?
The missing ingredient was the allocation of time.
How long would each of these tasks take?
How long should they take?
How long was I willing to spend on each?
This important step allowed me to see in advance how long my possible “to do” list would feasibly take. And if everything totaled 15 hours, I knew I would be unlikely to succeed.
I then assigned reasonable times to the tasks, which was another step in the right direction, but I would still end the day with numerous unchecked tasks.
Something was still missing…
At this point, I started obsessing over the full 24 hours and 1,440 minutes in a single day. And so began a black and white audit of my entire day from the moment I would wake to the moment my weary head would ideally hit the pillow at the end of a (hopefully) productive day.
Once I started looking at all of the things I do on a routinely basis every single day, I started attributing MINUTES and HOURS to everything.
I timed myself and jotted down everything.
What regular time is realistic for waking up?
How long does it really take to walk and then feed the dog?
How much time does it take to shower, brush my teeth and get ready?
Go to toilet? (Yes, I really did time myself…).
Once I added it all together, I could clearly see what I TRULY had available to me in the day for client responsibilities, business tasks and even family time.
Once I had done that, two miraculous things happened:
- I stopped wasting time on the every day necessary things. Half an hour to make and eat breakfast? Great. Not a minute more even if I am enjoying my cup of coffee and morning news article.
- Once I had the accurate plan of my day mapped out, I was able to focus better and conquer each one with efficiency. If one task took a little longer, I could shave a few minutes off the larger allocated times on bigger tasks and adjust in real time.
How often do you experience the following?
You’re incredibly busy but also have a solo recital on the horizon. You know EXACTLY how many days you have left to practice and despite limited time, you always find a way to GET IT DONE.
Knowing what time you have and allocating the minutes and hours is the key to productivity. With a detailed map, you increase your chances of succeeding.
I challenge you to audit your day tomorrow. Book end a hypothetical day with a start and an end and start timing everything that you do in between. On the following day, with a clearer understanding of your daily routine, you can now start looking at the things you need or want to get done and assign some of those remaining minutes and hours accordingly.
Now that you have your daily life sorted, how many minutes are you willing to dedicate today to marketing and promoting yourself…?