Time management

A couple of weeks ago I spent the day in the company of some pretty cool people in Southampton. Not only did I have the pleasure of visiting Southampton Solent University again, this time to talk to some Solent Creatives about being a freelancer, but I also went to have a chat with Nick and Bobby who recently started up a podcast called The Mindset Chronicles. For those not in the know Nick and Bobby are both members of a band called Our Hollow, Our Home, and Nick also owns Horizon Productions, a recording studio near Southampton. In their weekly podcast they have discussions about mindset and personal growth, and really get me thinking about things that I wouldn't usually analyse. I've been finding their podcast quite insightful, and useful on a personal level, so was really delighted to be asked to go down to guest in one. We talked mostly about time management, and the conversation that transpired is the main inspiration for this blog.

I know that I probably waffled a lot during the podcast recording (you can check that out on Spotify, Anchor and Google Podcasts right now), but coming away from that and having the time to really digest and think properly about it, I'm able to arrange all my thoughts into more cohesive ordering.  See, I'd never really thought about it until it was mentioned and I was asked the question: 'How do you manage to do all the different things you do, as well as look after a family and still have an active online presence?' Wow yeah, it seems I do manage to pack quite a lot into an average day, it's true. So how?

Well, it should be noted at this point that I have a rather large desk, plonked in the open plan corner section of my kitchen and my living room. This has its benefits and its disadvantages, but it's what I've got to work with so it'll do for now. On my desk are 2 monitors and 2 PC towers...one for editing video and photos, and one for social media, emails, googling 'what happens to Camile in The Originals' etc. I found this really cool app called Synergy that connects two PCs so you can use one keyboard and mouse to control both, if anyone's wondering how I manage with 2 keyboards and 2 mice (mice or mouses?), and it's been a bit of a life saver. I do love my set up.

Time management is something I don't put much planning into. I pretty much live at my desk 24/7, and while that certainly aids in the mission for being 'connected' online, and staying on track with work loads, it's also quite a tough thing to deal with for long periods of time too, especially as  there are lots of distractions and 'work hours' tend to go right out the window with me often finding myself working at mad hours of the day. Add in trips to the supermarket, housework, cooking, taxiing my family around as well as being away from home working from time to time, and I'm sure you can see why time management isn't something easy to implement too. I could get better at it and I should get better at it. Perhaps something to add to my 'list of things to do'. ha.

But still, even without a conscious effort to manage my time I somehow manage to do a million things at once, and get through workloads, and juggle home life, and have an online presence. And actually not only on my personal social pages but on a multitude of other social pages that I help look after for bands and brands. 

I've put this ability down to a number of factors, some of which are included below. We all have different ways of dealing with the time we have, but maybe there's some useful information here for anyone seeking to manage their time more effectively. 

1. Tune into your organised brain 
I can be a little obsessed with being organised I have to admit, and I've discovered over the years that  I also really enjoy organising things for other people, and/or organising other people too. I really like to have things straight in my head, to know what I'm doing, where I'm going, what time I need to be there. That's not to say I'm 100% organised all of the time - occasionally it's nice to be spontaneous and wing it. So if you feel that being organised isn't your strongest skill it's okay. There are other things you can do, like...

2. Make lists
OMG I bloody love a list I do. Multiple things to do, in the order in which to do them, plus reminders for what needs to be done after you've done those things. Lists. In the notes on my phone or scribbled all over notebooks and bits of paper littered all over my desk. Lists. <3 Lists are great! Start making lists. If you find yourself under pressure and snowed under a bit with work, don't panic. Making a list can really help get everything into perspective, and help you order the chaos.

3. Use a calendar
Can't lie here, I don't utilise mine nearly as much as I could. I write bookings, appointments and times in a diary but the rest of my time is not specifically allocated to anything in particular...it's all general. Work to my own hours at my own speed kinda deal. The reason I've included it here is that both Nick and Bobby told me that they use their calendars to organise their time quite succinctly, through precise allocation of time slots to specific activities, so this may well be a system that will work for you. 'Tea with my grandma - 1 hour' 'Edit those amazing photos' - 2 hours. Give it a go!

4. Working under pressure (and dealing with distractions)
I know, utter madness, but I actually really do like it when the pressure's applied a bit. It keeps me motivated, keeps me on my toes, and helps keep me on track. Even when I'm really busy though the biggest things that distract me are my kittens Raiden and Miko, and Netflix, and it doesn't take much persuasion to LURE me into that one trust me. I deal with this by telling myself that I can watch TV once I've finished my editing. Or at least made a good dent in it. aha. PS: I actually just googled 'is there a word for someone who enjoys working under pressure', thinking that perhaps there's a brilliantly obscure word somewhere for it. But no, there isn't. 

5. Multi-tasking
Now rumour has it that women are generally good at multi-tasking. Something about finding it easier to switch our attention without the need to mobilise extra resources to do so, than men....? I dunno either...especially as I know a few guys who are GREAT at it. But I know that I can push a full trolley all the way in Morrisons from the til to the door whilst thoroughly checking my grocery shopping receipt, and talking to my mum, without looking up once, or bumping into anything. I take this as full confirmation that I'm great at doing multiple things at once. Which helps.

6. Routine
Ok, so technically I don't have much of a planned routine most of the time, but I don't usually go anywhere near my PC or my work until I'm dressed, have had a cup of tea and made the lunch. It's a routine of sorts. You should get a routine. I should probably get a better routine.

7. Set realistic deadlines for yourself and be honest with clients 
There's nothing worse than having multiple people asking where their photos or video is all at the same time. As much as you might try to avoid overlaps and having to make people wait, it's bound to happen at some point. Be straight up and clear from the start with clients about when they can realistically expect their finished product. This helps you manage your time as well. And don't put too much pressure on yourself when it all goes a little bit tits up. Go talk to your client and explain the situation rather than wait it out and hope they won't notice. 

8. Working on automatic #magic
Mostly I think that I've had so many things in my brain, and been doing a million things at once for so long, that stuff just kinda happens automatically most of the time.