Time management is one of the most important skills in business (and in life, tbh) but it’s also something that a lot of people suck at. You can spend hours digesting information on time management – books, podcasts, YouTube videos…
But none of that will help you with your time management if you don’t actually implement it. I’ve spent years absorbing information about time management and trying out a whole bunch of systems to see what works best. Here’s the good news: it all boils down to 3 key steps. Introducing… the CBA principle.
1. C is for Catch
The first step to managing your time well is knowing exactly what you need to do in the time that you have. Here’s the thing: I’m a notebook lover. People give them to me, I buy them, I can’t not buy them. But when you’ve got a bunch of different notebooks on the go, your bag gets pretty damn heavy to carry around all day. So what starts to happen is… you write your to-dos in lots of different places, and after a while your brilliant business brainstorming ideas and important reminders are spread throughout various notebooks.
If I don’t have a good overview of what I need to get done, my to-dos are floating around in my brain like a bunch of ping pong balls. That just feels really uneasy and causes stress – and stress is bad for everything!
So how do I get around this? I have an Excel sheet that I call my master work file, and I ‘catch’ everything I need to do in there. If I’m out and about and can’t access it on the go, I make a note to self to add that item to my master work file when I next have access to my laptop. That way, nothing gets lost, my mind stays free of ping pong balls, and I can easily see what I need to do and by when.
The trick is to ‘Catch' everything in the same spot, always.
2. B is for Batch
Once you’ve caught all of your tasks in one place, step 2 is to batch your tasks. You probably know how important your ‘Flow' is for your work.
Imagine this: you’re sitting at your desk writing emails one minute, having client phone calls the next, and then moving on to recording your podcast all in the space of a few hours. It’s unlikely that you can reach that ‘flow’ state where you’re in the zone and working really productively – it takes time for your brain to catch up every time you switch tasks.
If you want to use your time effectively, batching is the way to go. An example for me is making and taking calls. I need to batch them, because otherwise I’ll be on calls all the time. I’ve picked Thursdays from 3pm until 6pm for my calls, and I’ve created an online calendar where people can book calls with me during that slot. That way, I’m in the ‘communicating' zone during those hours, without needing to take calls at other times and on other days when I’m focusing on other important tasks.
It doesn’t just need to be for calls – the same goes for doing admin for your business, creating social media content or sending emails to clients. Batch similar activities together and focus fully on those for that time. You’ll make the most of being in flow, and use your time efficiently.
3. A is for Act
The final step is Act. Have you ever scribbled down a to-do list when you’re busy with something else, and when you look at it later, you wonder WTF you actually need to do? It’s just a list of random words like ‘garage’ and ‘mom’ and ‘email’. Just looking at the list overwhelms you.
Do yourself a favour and make those to-do list items actionable. Write down your tasks using actionable verbs with as much detail as possible: ‘call the garage to make an appointment for X car on Y day at Z time’. That way, it will become a lot easier for you to actually get through that list without wasting time decoding your own thoughts and scribbles. Don’t write sh*tty to-do lists, people. You’re just making your life more difficult.
There you have it: the CBA principle. The secret to cracking time management really is that simple!
Ready to guzzle up more time management information? Then I've got great news for you!
Download 10 of my best time management principles. The CBA principle is in there as well as a bunch of different tips. https://fastforwardamy.com/timechecklist
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