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Time Management When Your Time is (Mostly) Your Own

Last Update: April 10, 2019

As some of you may be aware, I lost my job in December, a week before Christmas. After wallowing in self-pity for a relatively brief (I promise!) period, I chose to view this as a positive thing. I was escaping from a dead-end job where I wasn't really happy into a world with unlimited potential. I would be able to really throw myself into growing my at-home business, work on my writing, get serious about earning an income that could replace my 8-5 job, and eventually (hopefully) replace my second job (Uber/Lyft).

Reasons or Excuses?

Three months have gone by, and I haven't made nearly the progress I'd anticipated. There are lots of reasons--Without my full time income, I'm working a lot of hours on Uber/Lyft to make sure the bills get paid. That is a much less "steady/reliable" things, so I'm working more total hours than I was when I had a full time job and Uber was my second job. I was sick for a week; we had a death in the family. All legitimate "reasons", but at the core, I think they're excuses.

When I'm at home, at my desk, ready to work on my business projects--I frequently lose focus, or go in five million directions. I don't stick to my plan--or worse, I fail to make a plan for the week. I am letting my financial worries derail me into panic mode, instead of focusing on the action steps I need to follow to ramp up my income over the long term.

Logically, I think we all know, this process takes a while. Sure, there are the wonder kids that start their on line businesses and five minutes later are setting records and raking in the money, but for most of us, earning any income, let alone a sustainable replacement income for an 8-5 job, is going to take a lot of consistent action and a substantial amount of time and patience.

Structure is Necessary

When I was working, I had a set structure to my day, and I had a number of tools I used to keep my day on track. I have noticed that now that I'm (sort of) in control of my time, I've stopped using my tools and I've veered off track. I find this interesting because it wasn't like my boss structured my day--he was rarely in the office. I structured my days at the office. But at home--I'm not doing that. So today, I'm revisiting my need for structure. Obviously, because my schedule is a little wonky due to my Uber/Lyft situation, I have to be flexible. And I have to get a LOT better at estimating how long things take.

But managing our time is KEY to our being successful. We have to be consistent in our actions for our online business, and do that, we have to make sure we are allocating TIME to those businesses! It can't be "leftover time" or "I'll fit it in somewhere" time. If it's not scheduled and structured, at least a little bit, it won't get done.

The Best Tool: A TIMER

My single best time management tool? A TIMER!

An old-fashioned kitchen timer works best... I've found if I use a timer on my phone, it's too easy to get sucked in to checking emails or Instagram "for just a second" on my phone when I go to set or stop the timer.

The timer is the KEY to managing your time. For example, Wealthy Affiliate is a WONDERFUL source of information. I love to learn, and I could easily (and have, on NUMEROUS occasions) spend HOURS deep diving into article after article to learn about different things, or following conversations, or reading all the posts from a particular author... you get the idea. Instead, I set the timer. If I'm going to pop in and read, I'll set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, it's time to move on to my next scheduled task.

The timer is a GREAT way to keep yourself from getting sucked into the wormhole that is the internet, or Instagram, or Pinterest or even research. I found myself spending over an hour yesterday trying to find "just the right picture" for a blog post I was working on. That is WAY too much time. Use your timer! Decide how much time you want to allocate to a particular task and set the timer. When the timer goes off, STOP. If you honestly need more time, evaluate why and how much. Did you underestimate how much time you would need? Are you losing focus? Do you need to take a break and walk away for a few minutes?

The timer is great for rewards too! I often will "reward" myself will 15 minutes of fiction reading or Instagram surfing or something like that after I've completed a couple hours of focused work--or gotten a bunch of items crossed off my "to-do" list. But I've learned, without the timer, that short break can easily turn in to "just a few more minutes". It's kind of like the snooze button. You have to pay attention to where you spend your time, and remember that however you spend it--it's going to pass.

It's either going to be doing something that moves you towards your goals or away from them, essentially.

I'd realized that I'd gotten away from using my timer and had been just "estimating" and "ball parking" and loosely planning my activities. As a result, I wasn't getting even a third of what I needed or intended to get accomplished. Some of that is the actual limitations of time, and some of it was due to a lack of time management and planning.

Working from a daily plan and using my timer are my first steps to getting back on track with my goals.

And my time is up, so this post is DONE.

Have a great day, everybody! Good luck managing your time to manage your GOALS!

Brooke, Wealthy Affiliate Premium Member

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