Time management seems to escape us all. Between work, family, hobbies and your side hustle, finding a time management plan that helps you balance it all is important. Today I’m here to give you some time management strategies to help you find a better balance.
You work 40 hours a week at your 9 to 5 then come home, stream for a few hours, create some content for YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and maybe even a podcast recording. You manage to fit in some sleep, only to wake up a few short hours later and do it all again. Let’s not even mention finding the time to spend with your family, partake in some kind of exercise routine and have a social life!
Does this sound familiar? Would you like to get some of your time back and make content creation less of a chore and more of a harmoniously balanced part of your life? Get ready for a time management essay.
Before I go any further, first of all, you need a plan! Ask yourself – “What do you want to achieve?” and outline the steps needed to get there.
Now look at the steps and prioritize them. Done? Time for some tips and advice.
Keep reading to find 5 time management activities that will help you get a better grip on managing full-time work and your side hustle or content creation.
Figure out where all your time is going
We all have exactly 24 hours a day. No one gets more and no one gets less. Yet some of us appear to be able to bend time and achieve a week’s worth of work in just one day.
The most important step when developing a time management strategy is to work out how you currently spend your time.
For one week, write down exactly how you spend each minute. From the moment you wake up until you go to sleep.
5 am: Wake up look at the phone
5:15am-5:30am: Shower/Get dressed
5:30am – 6:00am: Drive to work
1pm -1:30pm: Lunch
2:30pm-3pm: Drive home
3pm-4pm: Watched TikToks
4pm-5 pm: Exercise
6pm-7pm: Scrolled through facebook/Instagram/twitter while eating dinner
7pm-10pm: video games
Looking at that, I could say that I have no time. But really, I just have poor time management. I spent a whopping 5 hours playing on my phone and playing video games. By writing down the things you do every day can you can identify what tasks or activities may be wasting your time or making you unproductive.
A lot of phones these days now give you the ability to track your screen time. If you don’t want to track every second you use your phone (I don’t blame you), you can just open up the “screen time” app and check out where your time went.
When I stated earlier that I only spend 2 hours a day on my phone, it turns out I was wrong by an hour! Voila! – an extra hour of time found!
The most important outcome from this exercise is that you become conscious of your unconscious habits!
Block your time
Go to the week view section of your favourite calendar app. Now block out all the time you’re at your 9-5 job, commuting and sleeping.
Next, fill in other responsibilities you have that cannot be avoided. Do you spend the evening eating dinner with the family then putting your children to bed? Block that time out.
All the leftover space is the available time you have. There should be a decent amount of time if you’ve identified areas where you can save time as outlined earlier.
Now it’s time to organise your tasks and fit them in.
For example, you want to stream 3 days a week, 4 hours at a time.
Make these 4 hours, 3 days a week your commitment, week in and week out. Streaming at a consistent time and date is vital as it will become a habit not only for you (making it more likely something you can stick to) but also for your viewers. Viewers will become familiar with your schedule and make time in their schedules to watch you.
If you do YouTube, use that time to edit or film some videos.
Is blogging is your creative outlet of choice? Use that time to focus purely on blog-related tasks.
Of course, there is more to content creation than just writing, going live, filming and editing. You’ll also need to schedule a block of time for creating content for other platforms and working on social media. Depending on how hard you like working, you can schedule a couple of hours either once a week or month, where you just sit down and prepare your social media posts for the week/month ahead. We’ll go into more information about this soon.
Whatever you do – be consistent – find (or make) time for it, block it in and most importantly DO IT! Treat these blocks like appointments you can’t miss, like a doctors appointment or a dentist visit.
I also highly recommend doing all you can to avoid distractions during the blocks of time you have selected to work on your content creation. Ensure the kids are in bed. Turn off the notifications on your phone. Install an app such as Stay Focused that stops you looking at social media or certain websites. If you don’t need it, then heck, turn off the wifi!
Don’t forget to block out time for socializing, exercising and spending time with your loved ones too.
Here is a rough overview of how I balance everything I need to do. It may seem I have a lot of free time but I believe in a work-life balance and the time I schedule for work is purely for work. No distractions and I get things done. If I don’t get things done, then my punishment is less free time, and well, I like my free time, so I try my best.
At my day job, I also do the above. Every task that needs doing is blocked off and during that one block of time, I focus purely on that task.
After time blocking, my favourite time management strategy is batching. Batching is when you collect a group of repetitive tasks and do them all at the same time without distractions.
Batching is a great time management strategy for the following reasons:
It reduces daily clutter in your to-do list – instead of having the same task day in and day out on your to-do list, batching removes these tasks and makes your day become less overwhelming.
It also helps you focus – the longer you work at one particular task, the more focused you become, which helps you enter the flow state. Flow helps ease the difficulty of the task and helps it become easier to maintain.
Another benefit of batching is ensuring less worry with motivation and willpower. Are you doing a ton of small tasks, replying to an email here, taking photos for Instagram over there? Your energy and willpower expenditure is huge. Doing it all at once means you don’t have to find the motivation and willpower over and over.
In the image of my week above, you can see that I spend a couple of hours shopping and preparing all my meals for the week ahead. This gives me at least an hour a day that I don’t need to spend shopping for and cooking food.
I also batch view all my TV and YouTube video watching into one night a week. Friday is the night I look forward to. I know I’ve worked hard during the week completing all my tasks and therefore it is a nice reward to pop open a bottle of wine, settle down and binge my favourite content.
Some examples of content batching include, recording one month worth of podcasts one a day a month. Spend a couple of hours to take a month’s worth of Instagram photos and schedule them with captions in a program such as Later. Or, spend a day filming multiple videos or a day editing. Take a look at some of your most repetitive tasks and see if you can batch them.
Take a look at all the tasks you do. Is there something that can be automated? Do you get emailed the same questions over and over? Try an automatic reply with answers to your most commonly asked questions, or links to the content they are asking about.
There are many programs that can help you automate your procedures such as Zapier and IFTTT . I recommend going through their standard integrations to see if any appeal to you or you can make your own integrations to automate the tedious tasks you do every day.
Repurpose your content. The ultimate time management hack
You have spent a lot of time streaming, filming, taking that photo or writing that blog. Why let it go to waste? Give your content a broader reach and as a result, grow your audience quicker!
This will save you so much time. Instead of trying to explain it myself, I’ll let the one and only Gary Vee explain how to do this best.
Check out his awesome article: How to create 64 pieces of content in one day!
Leverage your content so it starts working for you! You spent the time making it. Now it’s time to make it work for you.
Still struggling with time management? Outsource!
Does it take you an hour to create an amazing YouTube thumbnail because your Photoshop skills are lacklustre? Do you spend hours searching for the perfect hashtags for your Instagram post? Does your website need an overhaul?
Get someone else to do it.
“I’m just a small content creator, I cannot afford to pay someone to do things for me!” I hear you say.
There are a few points I’d like to bring up. First of all, time has value. In the famous words of the World of Warcraft goblins, “Time is money, friend!”
You need to ask yourself – do I want to spend time with my family or do I want to spend an hour doing the laundry and cleaning the bathroom? Which is more valuable to you? The time spent with family or the money you save by doing chores yourself? There is no shame in asking for or getting help.
Asking for favours or task swapping is another solid time management exercise.
If you can create dope thumbnails for YouTube videos in under an hour but take way too long writing the perfect Instagram caption, see if you can swap the task with someone who can’t make thumbnails but seems to be able to create eye-catching captions in what seems like no time. Ask if you can swap tasks. It’s a win-win situation.
Hire a Virtual Assistant. There are virtual assistants that are skilled in nearly every task imaginable – from managing your finances to doing all your social media for you. If there is something you need to do, there is someone that can do it no matter what your budget.
As content creators, we’re expected to know everything. We spend a lot of time googling things such as “How to create a podcast”, “How do I use Twitter?” and “How to edit a video using DaVinci resolve.” Whilst you can find out all that information for free, there are also courses that people have created, with step by step instructions on how to do it. These do cost money but again, time has value. You can either waste your time spending hours learning everything yourself or you can invest in a course that lays it all out and saves you hours of research.
There we have it! Five time management strategies and exercises that can help you get some balance in your life.
There is just one thing to remember:-
Like any exercise program or diet, what works for one person may not work for you. It’s important to spend some time tweaking your schedule and playing around with different time management and productivity tools to see what suits you and your lifestyle.