Mike Connell

The Big Question: How Scary is Managing Your Time?

By: Mike Connell | November 3, 2017 | 
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managing your timeIt’s November! How did that happen?

As 2017 rushes to a close, I’m sure many of us are left feeling like there’s a lot to do before the new year starts.

And managing your time becomes even more of a challenge.

What gets done first and what gets pushed aside?

How do you decide which tasks to make time for?

We are not only talking about productivity tips, productivity tools, or time management, per se, it’s about priorities.

It’s about making decisions.

Which—following our scary theme from October—can be frightening in a million different ways.

Not It scary (aka clown scary), but I-don’t-have-enough-time-in-the-day scary.

We can’t be the only ones feeling this way, right? Right?!

Hence this week’s Big Question:

What scares you most about the limited time you have in a day?

ABC: Always. Be. Closing.

Whether you own and run your own business, freelance, or are part of an in-house or agency team, we all have goals we are accountable for and managing your time is one of them.

Maybe we set those goals ourselves.

Perhaps they were set by someone else.

Either way, it can be daunting when we feel there isn’t enough time in a day to address everything.

Jessica Thiefels is aiming high, but that doesn’t mean the fear isn’t still there when it comes to managing her time:

What scares me the most about the limited time I have is whether or not I can scale my efforts as a business owner who’s trying to take on more clients without spending money on extra sets of hands (i.e., paying a freelancer or contractor).

I am setting big goals for next year, as my second full year as a self-employed content marketing consultant, and time will be one of the greatest struggles.

What makes the top of my list? As a content consultant, I live a life of deadlines, so deadlines dictate what I get done and when.

A couple of things to consider.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I turn to meditation and affirmations. I repeat to myself: *I have the power. I can make this happen. Whatever I need to get done, I will.* This is surprisingly effective.

Schedule every minute of your day with a basic to-do list is the key to my efficiency, which is something I pride myself on. I even include when I fit in workouts and decompression time; if it’s not on the to-do list, it won’t get done.

Managing Your Time: Sales and Clients

Stephen Gibson feels the same fear:

Hitting sales targets to find new clients is the biggest thing I need to make time for. I get so busy with current projects that I sometimes don’t reach out as consistently as I should. I want to land 2-3 more clients by the end of the year. To reach this goal, I work an hour more each day to make sure everything gets done.

For Jon Harris, the difficulty is balancing short-term successes with long-term results:

It can be very appealing and fun (for me) to spend time proactively reaching out to potential clients, helping with orders and executing on sales.

But, building inbound marketing funnels, such as content marketing, is what ultimately brought the current round of prospective customers in the first place.

So, do I focus more time on building the seeds of future growth or do I capture what’s currently available?

It’s easier to keep focused on a sales situation, where you are directly communicating with a prospect. It is harder to stay focused on a project where it is all internally driven.

Therefore, while working on a project, it can be very tempting to focus back on sales mode.

That is what I fear the most: That I get to the end of 2017 and barely accomplished my several months of marketing objectives.

A tip I’ve found helpful: use “thematic” days.

I have Wednesdays for calling prospects, past customers, etc. This gives me a break from my main weekly task. It also allows me to stay more focused during the rest of the week since I know I will make my calls on a specific day.

The “theme” aspect of the various days keeps me more interested. Of course, I do still work with plenty of customers during the other days, but this cuts down the proactive nature of sales on to those specific days.

Managing Your Time: What’s Important?

Ian Wright speaks of a fear I’m sure many of us share:

What scares me most about the limited time I have each day is that it’s so easy to get caught up in trivial work details and lose sight what’s important in life, which for me is family.

Ten years from now, I’m not going to care if I sent that e-mail or not, but I will care about the time I got to spend with my daughter.

So I’ve started to ask myself, how my 10-year future self would view the decisions I’m making today.

Paige Arnof-Fenn also puts things in perspective:

My husband and I went through a six-year period where we lost seven close family members, the last of whom died in 2016. It is true that no one on their deathbed wishes they had worked more!

I am scared to waste one minute of my life on stuff that does not matter. If I am not genuinely excited by a client or opportunity, I am happy to pass it along.

I want to fill my dance card every day with people, activities, and conversations that energize and excite me. I have to make time for the people who matter to me, and I can pass on the big networking events I used to go to multiple times every week.

Dinner with two old colleagues passing through town outranks a ballroom of 200 prospective clients any time for me.

Managing Your Time: Opportunity Knocks

Leslie Minton is worried about lost creativity and missed opportunities:

It can feel nearly impossible to make time for creative projects while you keep all the other PR plates spinning: Responding to reporters, tracking stories to pitch, placing experts, researching news trends, building relationships.

A few tips:

  • The holidays are here, and reporters will be itching for interesting story ideas during the slow news weeks ahead.
  • Now is the time to use some of that bottled up creative energy to build interesting pitches, research placement opportunities, and work on videos, graphics or other multimedia pieces.
  • Keep an eye out for cool stuff and save that cool stuff.
  • Does your team use Slack? Add an ideas channel.
  • You can do the same with an ideas list on Trello.
  • I use Twitter likes and Instagram collections to keep track of social content I want to come back to later.
  • Build up a bookmarks folder in your browser. These will become valuable resources when you need ideas to start moving.

Jo ana Kubiak is on the same page:

I worry that I’ll miss a time-sensitive opportunity.

Carol Titus is worried she will miss something important:

Forgetting something that is really important. With multiple projects and tasks throughout the day, it is easy to be distracted and forgetful.

Managing Your Time: FOMO

For Ryan Ruud, FOMO is the real deal:

I have major FOMO (fear of missing out) with my limited time. I’m worried while trying to get other things done, I missed out on an opportunity to meet someone new and exciting, or learn something really cool from that webinar or article.

FOMO is the real deal.

I conquer it, as best I can, with Mike Vardy’s time-chunking. I block out a part of my calendar every week for unexpected You should meet so and so or Here’s this great article, it helps temper my FOMO anxiety.

But, as they say, the struggle is real.

Managing Your Time: Focus & Prioritization

Karen Wilson is all about focus:

Losing focus, lack of clarity and setting realistic expectations. We have a finite amount of time, and that’s not going to change. But if I’m focused, clear about what I need to do, and realistic about the time I need to get it done, it’s not an issue. If any one of those three isn’t in sync, I know I’ll run into problems.

Stan Tan always prioritizes time for keeping up to date with the industry.

For example, Google algorithm changes, new Facebook ad formats and upcoming marketing channels that we can tap into.

The tasks that get push to the bottom of the lists are the tasks that are:

1. Repetitive
2. Necessary
3. Time-consuming

These tasks get outsourced which has saved me hundreds of hours in a month.

The biggest thing that scares me most is us falling behind our competitors because they operate more efficiently.

This can be not taking advantage of a new marketing channel, winning new clients that we could have won, and them having more brand awareness than us.

Managing Your Time: The Secret Weapon

There’s a lot to do, and not always a lot of time to do it in. That’s a common fear.

We have been given some great tips in surmounting that dread, but none hold a candle to Yoan Ante’s advice:

What scares me most about the limited time I have in a day is the fact that I will have the same limited amount of time the next day.

This puts into perspective about the NUMBER ONE thing I need to get done.

I need to give myself a good opportunity to sleep every day. This allows me to be three times as creative, three times as motivated, and three times as productive as I otherwise would be after a poor night of sleep.

By doing that one thing and allowing myself eight hours of sleep, I can get three times more done in one day that I could ever dream of by staying up late and trying to get a little more work done.

We Have Your Back

Managing your time is hard to do, but we can all relate, on some level, to the fears shared throughout this post.

And many of these fears are the very reason the PR Dream Team came into existence.

We all have stressful, tough jobs.

Even if you love what you do and think you have a handle on it all, it’s nice to know that someone has your back.

Trust us: It’s not possible to attend to every demand, expectation, or whim and stay the course. That’s where we come in.

Don’t be afraid to test the waters in our free Slack community.

Next Time, On the Big Question…

We talk a lot about where we get our information—about where we learn—here at Spin Sucks.  Books we read, podcasts we listen to, events we attend.

But what about how we get our daily local, national and world news?

My go-to news source was (and is, for the most part) traditional news media, such as The Globe and Mail.

Not because I know I’m getting everything I need to know from that source, but because I take comfort in, what’s it called….reading the paper?

Today, breaking and trending news find their channels.

Twitter and like-minded social streams bombard us with information.

Sources which may not always have the story right, but by sheer volume, they will get the news out there, whether it’s fit to “print” or not.

In a time when we can just say “Alexa, what’s the news?” do we need to limit ourselves to one or two go-to news sources?

With that in mind, the next Big Question asks:

What are your go-to daily news resources to keep up to date with what’s going on in the world?

You can answer here, in our free Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative . Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Lauren Robeson

    I skim through the Bakersfield Californian (local paper), and follow that newspaper and local broadcast channels for local news.

    For national/world news, most consistently I subscribe to the Skimm – I used to work in newspapers and found after I was laid off that I wasn’t picking up on as much news as I used to simply since I wasn’t searching through the wires as I used to have to for work. The Skimm pulls in a variety of news – sometimes it’s frustrating what they leave out or fail to mention, but I love the pop culture references and overall it’s a great resource for at the very least knowing the headlines. I also follow NYT, LAT, the SF Chronicle, and the Sacramento Bee on my networks and read stories that sound particularly interesting.

    A couple times a day I go to to the Twitter profiles of some journalists from cable news and major newspapers to catch up on what they’re posting.

    • This is great Lauren, thanks. I used to use your twitter method more than I do now. I should get back into it, although I admit I don’t always like relying on other twitter user habits 😉 Instead, I’ve been trying to find fun, all-encompassing ways to digest what’s going on. The paper is still good for as-it-happens, but Next Draft is a great compendium of what’s going on in the world.

  • A huge yes to this, “many of us are left feeling like there’s a lot to do before the new year starts.”

  • I think we all agree we could use an extra bonus month or two this year before it’s all over. Where did 2017 go?! I should work an extra two hours every day.

    • Haha! Totally agree Stephen. Maybe we can start a petition to start collecting the fractional days and instead of a leap year and an extra day in February, we can stockpile for a bonus month?

      • That’s a fantastic idea. Or we can start borrowing days from the future and use them now. Then we can have short years when we’re all caught up.

        • I love this rabbit hole. The conundrum? “Caught up” is such a relative term. There always seems to be more to do!!

          • I already cancelled February and am tacking it on at the end of this year. It’s kind of a throwaway month more or less.

    • It’s so true! It was a terrible year, but it did go by extraordinarily fast.

      • oh it was a great year Gini. This was the year I got included in SpinSucks! =)

  • Debbie Johnson

    I have two fears when it comes to time management: wasting time and not prioritizing what I want to accomplish.

    This year, I’ve been about learning to say no to free up my time to do what I want. Now the key is, what exactly is that?

    It’s both scary and exciting.

    • Ugh. I’m not good at saying no. How did you figure it out @disqus_lGY1lBTB8i:disqus?

      • Debbie Johnson

        I’m actually writing a blog post about this, but I take all requests/opportunities and apply this question: “Will this help me achieve my goals?” If not, then I say no.

        • Good advice. Let us know when the post is live!

  • Kendra Hale

    This year has flown by and I can’t believe it is holiday season already. I thought that your post gave me some friendly reminders when it comes to time management. One thing that stuck with me was the section on focus and prioritizing because sometimes I have a difficult time focuses on tasks that I am not exactly looking forward to doing. Maintaining a balances schedule requires focus and finding tricks to stay on topic will help get those tasks done in a timely manner. For myself, I should set my phone aside or put it on silent so notifications don’t distract my focus.

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