Note: This post is written by Luisa Brenton
When I was in college, I was the queen of “all-nighters.” I played a lot of video games; I spent time with my friends; I watched TV and spent too much time on all sorts of campus activities. In between all of that, I attended classes, took notes like a good student does, and even read my text at times.
What got me were those papers. They had deadlines, and most professors were pretty strict about them. Thus the all-nighters every time one was due.
Life Is Not Like College
This I learned very quickly, as soon as my business was up and running and clients were beginning to come in more than one at a time. They all had deadlines, just like my professors did. The difference was they were paying customers, and they wanted progress reports along the way. I admit I had to miss a few before I finally got serious about getting organized and managing my time.
Learning That Deadlines Can Be Friends
If you suffer P.I.O. (put-it-off) syndrome like me, you will soon learn what will force you into good time management: deadlines with price tags attached and a reputation you must maintain and nurture.
You will begin to see deadlines as your friends, for without them you will simply let things slide. Here is what deadlines do:
- They force you to set up a schedule. If you intend to meet several deadlines, there is no way around this. Use a daily planner or a calendar of sorts. Mine is “old-school,” because I have to see everything in front of me at once. So, three-months-at-a-time have replaced the pictures that used to be on my office wall. Those calendars serve to remind me every day that I have deadlines to meet.
- Divide each project into smaller chunks with little deadlines, and get those small deadlines entered onto the calendar. Once that is done, then, it is obvious what has to be accomplished each day. That calendar becomes a bible from which you can work.
- Each morning, look at the day and make a prioritized list of the order in which each task will be accomplished. Allocate amounts of time to each task. Stick with that list and adhere to that order. No skipping around allowed.
- Schedule time for calls, emails, and breaks in between each of the listed tasks. Let your calls go to voicemail. If you have family members who may need you in an emergency, get a separate cheap phone for their calls.
- Review at the end of the day. If everything on that list is crossed off, you are good to go. Enjoy your evening. If not, then get some supper and come back and finish up. Life is like that when you are self-employed.
Here Is Where the Friendship Comes In
Once you get into the habit of the five steps above, wonderful things will begin to happen:
- There will be days when your task list is finished by early afternoon. Even the calls and emails have been returned. Guess what? You are free until tomorrow morning. Get up, turn off the light, close the door and choose to do something you enjoy, even if it is catching up on the NCIS series you have been recording for the last three weeks.
- You will find that your stress levels are way down. I remember when in college how the stress would get to me. I had the names of some reputable online writing services and was always calling them at the last minute with an order, hoping there was enough time for them to find someone to write a paper. In the meantime, I was struggling with the other two I had – looking back, it was a horrible way to live.
- You will have more time with friends and family, and you will be much more relaxed during those times – no anxiety over a looming deadline, because you are on track.
Embrace those deadlines. They give you the structure you need to balance your life, keep your customers/clients happy, and be able to put your head on the pillow at night with a quiet mind.
Luisa Brenton had been working as a brand developer for 4 years. Luisa is interested in modern literature and new films. She is interested at journalism as well. Now Luisa is a blogger at Ratedbystudents.com. You can contact her on Facebook and Twitter.