As both an accountant and a mom, let’s be honest, we truly do have two full-time jobs. It’s no wonder it can feel like there’s never enough time or that we don’t have control over our time.
While it’s completely normal to be struggling with time management, getting a better handle on it is crucial for success. With the combination of tight deadlines and complex projects at work, as well as the never-ending list of things that need to be done at home, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything.
But here’s the thing – effective time management isn’t just about getting more done – it’s about learning how to win your day. But, what does it mean to win your day?
It means taking control of your time and achieving your goals, both personally and professionally. It means being proactive rather than reactive and making the most of every hour of the day.
It’s about taking all the podcast episodes I’ve done on time management, distilling them down, and helping you put them into action. As I’ve shared before on this podcast, knowledge is great, but knowledge isn’t everything – applied knowledge is where your power lies.
I love that you’re listening to this podcast because I’m also a huge fan of podcasts, but let’s be honest – most of us passively listen, learn a few things, and then go back to doing what we’ve always done. We know there are plenty of great suggestions and helpful tips available, but how many of us are actually making the time to implement what we learn?
I know I’m totally guilty of doing that, but that’s why I want to help you not fall into the same trap. When I have taken action on something I learned, that’s when things have improved dramatically.
Here’s the trick – you need to commit to doing the work, even when you don’t want to. You have to override the lower, Toddler part of your brain that would rather do what’s familiar, even if it’s not helpful.
Keep listening to this podcast and learning every week, but don’t try to find the time to implement what I share – make the time, schedule the time. The irony of learning better time management skills is that we believe we don’t have the time to learn how to manage our time.
Believe me, I get it, but here’s a little tough love – that’s just an excuse. Your Toddler brain does not want to expend energy so it offers you thoughts like, “I don’t have the time” or “I’m confused.”
That Toddler part of your brain means well, but in order to win your day, you’re going to have to be in charge. Are you ready?
This week I’m going to discuss what it takes to win your day and some steps you can take.
What it takes to win your day
As an accountant mom, it’s understandable that your to-do list can feel overwhelming and never-ending. With deadlines, meetings, ongoing projects, and a family to raise, it can be tough to know where to start.
That’s why the first thing it takes to win your day is learning an effective way to prioritize your tasks. Prioritizing tasks is essential to winning your day because it helps you focus on what’s most important and avoid getting sidetracked by less critical tasks.
Although it can often feel like everything is important, when you stop to truly prioritize your tasks, you can ensure that you’re allocating your time and energy to the work that matters most rather than getting bogged down by low-priority or non-essential tasks. Effective prioritization also helps you stay organized and manage your workload more efficiently.
By breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, you can tackle your work in a more methodical and organized way. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed, which can ultimately impact your productivity and effectiveness.
Another benefit of prioritizing tasks is that it allows you to be more proactive rather than reactive. When you know what your most important tasks are, you can plan your day and week around those priorities rather than simply reacting to whatever comes your way.
The second thing it takes to win your day is effective time blocking. The idea behind time blocking is simple: you divide your day into blocks of time, each dedicated to a specific task or set of tasks.
Using time blocks helps to ensure that you’re using your time effectively, avoiding distractions, and making progress toward your goals. When I work with clients on time management, I have them imagine that each block that they’ve calendared, whether it’s 15 minutes or 4 hours, is like a permission slip that I’ve given them to focus on that block and only that block; nothing else.
One of the many benefits of time blocking is that it helps you stay focused and motivated throughout the day. When you know exactly what you should be working on at any given time, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed or distracted by other tasks.
The third thing it takes to win your day is to limit multitasking. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not an effective way to manage your time; in fact, attempting to multitask can actually hinder your productivity and lead to lower quality work.
The problem with multitasking is that it splits your focus and makes it more difficult to concentrate on any one task. When you switch back and forth between tasks, you lose momentum and can become more easily distracted.
In addition, multitasking can also create a sense of stress and overwhelm. Attempting to juggle multiple tasks at once can lead to feelings of anxiety and burnout, which can ultimately impact your performance and effectiveness.
The fourth thing it takes to win your day is getting a better handle on email and communication. As accountants, we receive a lot of emails and communication throughout the day, which is why managing these messages effectively is an important part of winning your day and staying productive.
The truth is that constant communication can be a major source of distraction and can make it difficult to stay focused on other tasks throughout the day. By managing your email and other forms of communication effectively, you can reduce these distractions and stay focused on your most important work.
In addition, managing communication effectively can help you prioritize your workload and avoid getting sidetracked by less important tasks. For example, if you’re constantly checking and responding to emails, you may lose track of other important tasks that require your attention.
Effective communication management can also help you build stronger relationships with your colleagues and clients. By being responsive and organized in your communication, you can demonstrate your professionalism and reliability, and build trust with those around you.
Okay, so now that I’ve shared the four things it takes to win your day – prioritizing tasks, effective time blocking, limiting multitasking, and getting a better handle on email and communication – let me share some steps you can take to implement these.
Some steps you can take
The first thing it takes to win your day is prioritizing and I think this might be the most important thing. You need to take some time at the beginning of each day or week to assess your workload and identify what’s important in advance.
When you decide intentionally beforehand, not in the moment, you are using the higher, executive functioning part of your brain. That’s the part of your brain that you want being in control of your time.
Once you’ve identified your most important tasks, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if you need to complete a financial statement, break it down into smaller tasks such as reviewing data, drafting the report, and proofreading.
This can help you feel more in control of your workload and better able to manage unexpected or urgent tasks. In episode #215 – Time Management for Perfectionists – I discussed what I call the Decision Matrix that will help you decide what is and isn’t a priority.
As a quick review, you’re going to want to go over your to-do list and decide first if something is easy or hard and then whether it’s high impact or low impact. You’ll break down the to-do list into the following – easy/high, hard/high, easy/low and leave off hard/low.
The second thing it takes to win your day is time blocking which entails identifying your most important tasks and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps. For each of those categories you broke your to-do list into, you’re going to allocate blocks of time throughout your day to work on each task.
For example, you might schedule two hours in the morning for client meetings, followed by an hour for reviewing financial data and another hour for drafting a report.
When time blocking, it’s important to be realistic about how long each task will take and give yourself enough time to complete each task without feeling rushed or stressed, but also try to avoid over-scheduling your day. Be sure to include breaks throughout your day, as well, to help you stay focused and energized.
Another key aspect of time blocking is avoiding distractions. When I work with my time management coaching clients, I have them schedule Focus Time – blocks of time for their most challenging work where they turn off their phones, close unnecessary tabs on their computers, and let their colleagues know that they’re unavailable.
The third thing it takes to win your day is to limit multitasking by focusing on one task at a time. I know that’s easier said than done for busy accountant moms, but you will begin to reap the benefits when you limit your multitasking.
By devoting your full attention to each task at hand, you make it possible to complete it more efficiently and effectively, helping you to achieve higher quality work and stay on top of your workload. Limiting your urge to multitask can lead to improved productivity, higher quality work, reduced stress, better time management, improved decision-making, and enhanced creativity.
Your brain is much more effective and efficient when it’s not being pulled in many different directions in short spurts of time. In fact, there have been several studies on the effects of multitasking and busyness on cognitive function, including IQ.
One study, conducted by researchers at the University of London, found that persistent multitasking and busyness can lead to a significant decrease in IQ points. In essence, being busy makes us dumber.
And the fourth and final thing it takes to win your day is getting a better handle on email and communication. When I work with my time management coaching clients I highly recommend that they schedule specific times throughout the day to check and respond to messages.
For example, you might check your email first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, and then again in the afternoon. It’s too easy for us to give in to the urge to check email rather than finish what we’re working on because what we’re working on is often challenging, and email is easier.
But even though your lower brain loves what’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s helpful. By being in charge of when you check email versus email being in charge, it can help you avoid the constant distraction of incoming emails and allows you to stay focused on other tasks throughout the day.
In addition to managing your email, it’s also important to be strategic about other forms of communication. For example, if you find that you’re getting interrupted frequently by colleagues, try setting up specific times throughout the day when you’re available for meetings or discussions. This can help you stay focused on other tasks throughout the day while still allowing you to collaborate effectively with others.
Finally, it’s important to recognize the importance of disconnecting from work communication outside of work hours. While it’s tempting to stay connected and responsive at all times, doing so can ultimately lead to burnout and decreased productivity, so make a point to disconnect from work-related communication during your time off and prioritize rest and relaxation in order to recharge.
So hopefully, I’ve given you some things to not just consider but put into action. Remember, applied knowledge is where all your power lies, so if you want to win your day, start taking the actions necessary to make that possible.
Effective time management isn’t just about getting more done – it’s about learning how to win your day. But, what does it mean to win your day? It means taking control of your time and achieving your goals, both personally and professionally.
It means being proactive rather than reactive and making the most of every hour of the day.