The 12 Days of Time Management

This post is realistically probably a shopping list of tips for myself with a festive twist. As this year has gotten busier, I feel like I am constantly juggling a dozen glass baubles, and holding my breath that I won’t shatter one.



I am comforted by knowing I’m not alone, as all of my mumpreneur friends and clients have the same issues. As we approach the season for resolution and review, I’ve put together a start-up checklist for time management.


Come the New Year, I’ll do a 12 step program of how to keep your resolve!


1: Stop panicking. This actually takes up a lot of time. Sit with the feelings of panic and anxiety and use them as a catalyst for taking responsibility for your “busyness” and transform this into action steps.


2: Priorities: What are they? Now, break this into your business, family and personal life (yes, family and personal life should have a distinction!) This is a doing list, not an aspirational list, so start charting up some things on your calendar and making some lists.


3: Calendarise! Yes, this is now an official word and it means to step out and colour code or whatever means suits you what is coming up. Make it visual and easy to read, use a shared calendar if you have business partner/s that you need to work with, or family members. Knowing at a glance where you are at is a great way to ease the feeling something is forgotten.


4: Step back in time. It’s a Minoguism, but are you making the best use of your time and skills? Look at what you are regularly doing, and honestly assess if you are the right person to be doing that role. If you feel you are the only person who can, ask yourself if that is true – or are you using your inability to let go of control to justify your tight grip?


5: Do, delegate, diarise or dump. I’ve absolutely stolen this from someone else, I wish I knew who, but it is good advice, and the four D’s are great shorthand for making clean and clinical decisions about the value of an activity to your precious limited time.


6: Value yourself: What are you worth an hour? Never thought about it? Those of us who charge in increments are very clear on our worth, if you aren’t sure about your hourly worth, benchmark yourself against a professional in your industry using a simple salary breakdown.


Let’s say you are somewhere between $50 and $100 per hour in real gross value, so ask yourself what is the opportunity cost of what you are doing right now if it isn’t actually netting you and your business income? Of course we all do lots of things that are pro-bono – but this is a useful exercise to reality check where all your time is being spent.


7: Reality check! Okay, I was personally horrified when I recently did a back of the envelope calculation where I was spending the majority of my time, versus where the majority of my income came from.


This harsh reality check made it very easy to say no to the endless requests for me to give my time for free, and made it great to enjoy when I did choose to donate my skills, not feel I was being put upon and devalued.


8: Say NO. Really, try it. Choose your battles, but start to use the N word more often, it’s very empowering, and once you begin to identify your time bandits, it is easier to say no gently but firmly.


9: Systematise your business. I know, I know, we all grow and evolve our businesses on the fly, but take the time to measure and document what you do. Aside from being valuable intellectual property, it also enables you to see what you are doing that is repetitive, or could be streamlined or evicted from your work practices.


10: Seize the day. Take time each morning to take a deep breath and plan your day. If you think you are too busy, all you need is 10 quiet minutes, make time, run through your activities in your mind, and imagine yourself confidently, masterfully, happily completing them all.


11: Play hooky from operations: Sneak off and be creative. Remember how you felt about your business, the dreams and plans you had for it, the successes you imagined. Where are you at with that, what can you infuse into your everyday that will keep the feeling alive so the pleasure and motivation stays strong? Add that into your morning intention setting.


12: Stop! Party time! Celebrate the massive achievements you have made, everytime you make one. Make the minute massive, tell you friends, spread the word on social media, crack a Champagne, just publically acknowledge that you are making it, day by day, and really, truly celebrate how awesome you are.


Dr Polly McGee a co-founder of Startup Tasmania, which aids fast-growth start-ups in the state. She’s behind the MumpreneurIDEAS program, a one day workshop that assists women to start-up and is also a senior lecturer in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tasmania in their MBA and undergraduate program.


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