Last week I started a new personal challenge: to read one book per week.
Who says Jan. 1 is the only time to set goals and start something new? My goal is to read a book each week through the end of the year. That’s 22 books in total! I love the mental image of ending 2018 knowing I paged (or scrolled or listened to) 35+ books on personal development, business, and just plain fun.
Each Monday I’ll share a recap of the book I just finished and a few takeaways that resonate with me. Hopefully this insight helps inspire you, either in your personal development or small business owner journey, and offers some tips to take action on in your daily life.
I also plan to keep you updated on how this challenge goes. I expect there to be some kinks to work out as I move up my reading pace from one to two books per month to one book per week, and I look forward to learning along the way and sharing with you!
Let’s get going with the first book all about time management.
Book No. 1 | Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done
Time management author Laura Vanderkam has been on my radar this year after hearing a few creative entrepreneurs I follow rave about her book 168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. When I heard about her latest time management book, Off the Clock, it felt like the right read to discover some time management strategies as I take on this reading challenge and share with the FemCity Des Moines book club group.
Personally, I have read about and heard others’ experiences with time blocking and forming an ideal routine that emphasizes productivity. I’ve found that time blocking, or batching tasks, just isn’t a good fit for my personality. And when I’m passionate at something, I can struggle to step away. I’m slowly tweaking a loose daily routine that incorporates plenty of to-do’s and time for slow, enjoyable activities.
Time freedom is a topic I hadn’t tapped into before Off the Clock.
My schedule has quickly filled up over the past few months between FemCity Des Moines, Flourish, Waukee YP, and working in and on my business. I love every single meeting and endeavor I get to take part in, but there have been a few weeks where I certainly struggled to keep up with everything.
That is where time freedom intrigues me. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and 168 hours per week, but it’s what we do with them that counts. I believe that by optimizing my time, I can have time to get more (of the right, strategic tasks) done while also making more time to relax and reenergize.
My Time Management Takeaways
Step away from the weeds in your schedule.
Just because you currently handle a task doesn’t mean that you should.
As a small business owner, there are so many responsibilities and to-do lists. Attempting to reach inbox zero, showing up at networking events, testing out new marketing strategies—days fill up and weeks fly by.
Putting our heads down and getting to work spurs progress, but only if it’s the right kind of work.
Some of the top offenders I notice: noncritical and repetitive tasks.
For example, consistency is crucial when it comes to social media, but how beneficial is it to spend three hours preparing and scheduling content for one week? Do you see any results, such as audience growth or client inquiries, that justify the time you spend?
It’s also inefficient to craft documents or emails from scratch if they are part of your regular workflow. How many minutes, and soon hours, could you save by creating templates or outsourcing those tasks?
Removing these duties that don’t require you and your skill set open up your schedule. What could a few extra hours in your week do for you? What about 10 or 15?
We all have beliefs about our time that may or may not be true.
“I don’t sleep enough.”
“I get stuck in too many meetings.”
“I’m too busy to find time to work out.”
Odds are that you have core beliefs about your time and relationship to having too little of it.
This is where time tracking can be a helpful tool. Taking a few days or a week to track the minutes you spend on every task of your day creates a powerful look at how you spend your time. You might realize that you truly don’t sleep many hours, or you might see that you’re doing fine there but could investigate other reasons behind your lack of energy.
Likewise, tracking time can reaffirm our beliefs. Maybe you feel that meetings and calls take up too much of your week and see from your tracked results that a scary ratio of your time is spent there. Now you can figure out what to do next to free up more of this time.
Overall, Off the Clock transitioned my mindset about time tracking from a helpful but hard-to-follow-up-on business practice to a genuine tool. With our time as a scarce resource, how can you prevent wasting it?
Make room for the memorable.
Laura Vanderkam’s discussion about common and memorable moments really struck me. Environments and routines that stay the same lack emotional intensity. This emotional intensity is what’s needed to craft experiences that stick out in our memories.
Switching up our daily routines and infusing them with special moments lets us make many more memories. These special moments don’t have to be costly. Think playing an imaginative game with your kids, fitting in that massage you’ve been meaning to schedule, or taking an afternoon to explore some of your city’s sights.
Why is this important to incorporate in your schedule? As Laura says, creating memories means that you’re creating time. If we stick with the routine, that time and repetition condenses down and is unremarkable. These pockets of pleasure and change are what stick out over time.
Lesson From Week One of the Reading Challenge
New habits are easy to forget about.
I’ve dabbled with listening to books on Audible, but most of my reading this year has been done on my Kindle. I find it so convenient to keep in my nightstand, travel with, and snatch some reading time before bed.
Listening to an audiobook, especially in one week, involves a change in my routine. Several times I found myself at the end of day realizing that I had completely forgotten to listen in as I handled household chores, drove around town, and got ready in the morning.
I haven’t gone as far to schedule listening time in my calendar, but the effort wouldn’t hurt as I move forward with another Audible book for week two of this challenge. It’s time to tweak my time management strategies!
Up Next: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
With time management in mind, I’m moving on to the psychology of habits with my next book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I love neuromarketing (combo of psychology and marketing) and have heard my husband, DJ, absolutely rave about what he recently took away from this book, so I expect it to be a fascinating read.