Development Cylce on Whiteboard
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What Do You Do All Day?

Time Managment

We have all been asked "What do you do all day?"

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And we have all seen various memes of “what I do all day” They may look something like this:


Female Programmer Meme
Image from SWFemaledeveloper.

But please note I would not classify myself as a programmer. Sure I do write code, specifically HTML and create the CSS files to make a website, and I can even toss in some JavaScript too, so there is certainly some aspect of programming involved.

And then let’s add in the bit about me being a small business owner and you have people thinking something along these lines.


Small Business Owner Meme
Image by memesmonkey.

And there you have it my friends this a crazy look at what I do, sort of kind of. While some small business owners need to stick to a fairly standard Monday to Friday workday, at least where it comes to client-facing work (I am thinking plumbers, electricians, landscapers, etc), they often still have work to get done after that just to run their business. I have the ability to be flexible with my work hours so that I can help accommodate my clients and family life.


        

For example, right now it is 6:30 AM as I write this draft, and while it won’t be that early when I publish this piece it is an illustration of what I do and how I make the time for work. I find the time that is available and I focus on time management, and I embrace the work smarter not harder philosophy. I could try to write this later in the day but my focus would be scattered and it would take longer so why would I do that?

As I have spent the past year working on Blue Shutters I have learned a few things. Time management is very important regardless of if you work for yourself or for someone else, but I find it to be especially important to self regulate your time management when you are the boss, and the employee all rolled into one. I have also learned that I need to be creative with how I structure my day, and just because I did something one way for the longest time doesn’t mean it is the right way to do it right now.


Time Managment Is Key

There are a ton of books out there to help you with time management but before you pick up anyone book, you really have to want to make a change or improve on what you are doing now, you cannot expect a book to make you want to change. The want needs to come from you and you alone the book is simply a means to help you achieve what you want.

168 Hours Book Cover
Image Source Laura Vanderkam.
I am a fan of Laura Vanderkam, you may remember that I mentioned her podcast in a previous post. I like her tips and her podcast because they are short and to the point. I had originally read her book 168 Hours, quite some time ago but I cannot remember when exactly, I do know that the book was published in 2010 and I was still working in the corporate world before so I would say somewhere between 2010 -2014. There are some things the have stuck with me all this time, and that is to to make time for the things that are important to me, and sometimes it is best to spend the money have someone else do it for me.


Another thing is looking at the week as a clean slate without preconceived notions of what to do when and then filling in the schedule. I do follow some conventional time blocks when it came time to fill in items like sleeping and I do that at night, but there are some other time blocks that I found I adhered to out of habit and following the lead of my parents but there was no reason other than habit to keep them. For example, grocery shopping, by habit I did it on Saturday morning largely because it was what my Mom had done but also partially because it seemed convenient for me because I didn’t want to do it during the workweek.


"The most dangerous phrase in the language is, 'We've always done it this way.'"


What I found was, after I dropped the kids off at school on Friday was the perfect time for me to do that chore because I was able to to do it more quickly because I didn’t have the kids and there were not as many people in the store the lines were very short if there was a line at all. Even with my shopping trip and putting away the groceries I was able to be at my computer by 9:30 at the latest, not too shabby. Simply by making that shift, I was able to free up my schedule and use my time more wisely, now that time slot on Saturday mornings is free to do something else, meet with a client or take care of some other family obligation. And that is just one change on one day, and I started to make little changes like that it became freeing and was able to more fully enjoy my time.

Take a few moments and look at your days and week and see if there are some ways you can change things around that it will make sense for you and the rhythms of your life. Don’t be afraid to make changes if they no longer work for you, it may difficult at first to break the years of habit but in the long run, you may just find that it was worth the effort to be more productive.

You may have noticed I don't actually answer the question as to what I do all day and that was an intentional omission. I really wanted to get you started thinking about your day and what you do all day, evaluate things and determine if you want to make changes or if you need to make changes. I will do another post in which I really do answer the question what I do all day, so stay tuned!

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