How to manage your time and prioritise your life

The last few months have been rather hectic with jam-packed diaries, deadlines, running workshops, over and above the demands of being a mother to an energetic 6-year-old. It’s been exhausting.

To add to this, I recently had to travel to Nairobi mid-month for work and returned home at 1:30am! The next morning, I had to attend a Father’s Day activity at my daughter’s school. I was looking forward to some well-deserved rest over the weekend that followed but the flu virus had other plans for us. My daughter got sick which resulted in many sleepless nights for me. I was eventually dragging myself through basic tasks each day.

I had deadlines to meet but was unable to work over the weekend and the guilt of not delivering on my commitments weighed quite heavily on my conscience. But the truth was that I could not tackle any of these work tasks as I chose to prioritise my daughter and be with her. Making this decision eased my guilt.

However, if you are an entrepreneur and you don’t deliver on work commitments you lose business and don’t get paid. This is a dilemma one faces often as a small business owner.  Most of the time, I just push through even though my body is telling me not to.

I had a nice chat with myself recently and I asked myself how I got to this position in the first place. I thought about it and realised I was overdoing things and overcommitting to projects that were really not adding any value to my life and my business.

I now ask myself – is this activity serving my objectives or not?  For example, I get a lot of spam calls from people wanting me to take up an offer with them and I usually waste 10 minutes of my time listening to someone trying to sell me something. I’m also great at creating a to-do list – a very long one with many tasks crammed into just a single day.

Here’s how I’ve managed to prioritise:

  1. I politely said NO to non-value adding things.
  2. I worked out what is important to me and what is actually helping me in my business.
  3. I’ve learned that resting is critical to my survival. I need to take time for me and take care of myself.
  4. I need to be ruthless about my time and spend it on activities that will work for me.
  5. I put my daughter and myself first – (even if this means watching back to back episodes of Peppa Pig).

I used to do the method below when I worked in corporate and I was ruthless about how I used my time but somehow I lost the discipline somewhere along the way.

Rather than trying to do everything and exhausting yourself, make a list and figure out what is important, how urgent it is and which ones you need to focus on in the next 4-6 weeks. Spend time on these activities – Block 1 and Block 2 should be 90% of your time and should only consist of 2-3 projects. You also need to learn delegate tasks to others to clear up your time.

With the very urgent and not important tasks, try to minimise these activities to 1 a week (e.g. answering unimportant calls)

You should be doing a few bigger things rather than doing too many small things.

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