One of my Instagram followers kindly asked me to write a blog post about how I manage to produce a radio show, write articles for Forbes, keep up with social media, take part in science events, do a masters, socialise and also find time for sleep!
The real answer is I don't have a clue! But there are things I do to help manage my time - so here are 5 things I do to keep on top of my work:
1. Keep a diary
I like to keep a diary where I pencil in important meetings, deadlines and goals for the day. I keep this with me all the time and whenever I'm working it's always next to me so I can tick off tasks as I do them but it also reminds me of what's coming up for me for the day.
2. Plan your day
I often spend about 5-10 minutes before bed planning the next day and what I'd like to achieve. I aim to write down small achievable goals that I'll put into my diary and tick off as I achieve them. There are certain things that I try to keep consistent: I normally set Wednesday afternoons for Science Mixtape (radio show) preparation and Saturday mornings for Forbes articles. I tend to leave social media related tasks for my commute to and from university - my commute is about an hour so this gives me enough time to tweet, post on Instagram and do a bit of reading for Forbes article ideas.
3. Make time for fun
This one is something I can struggle with, I tend to get so caught up in never-ending deadlines and tasks I need to complete. But one thing I've started doing in the last few years is scheduling time for fun and my favourite hobbies. I try and climb at least once a week, play music/sing/beatbox once a week and I always take Friday afternoons/nights off. I put them in my diary just as I would for meetings or work-related things. This is a reminder for me to take time to have fun and if it's not in my diary I tend to let the work-guilt take over and I'll end up working lots. By planning in my fun time it makes sure I take the time to put work aside for a few hours and de-stress and have fun!
4. Prioritise and learn how to say no
Sometimes I get requests to do certain interviews, events and other tasks and sometimes I am just drowning in work that I have to say no. It does make me super sad to say no to things :( Before I would say yes to everything and end up in a position where I would do everything, burn out and forget to have me-time. Without the time to do these tasks, they'd end up being only 70% as good as I'd like or less or I end up reducing my fun time. So nowadays I try and only say yes to the things that I know I will have time for so that I can do them as well as I'd like, won't burn out and I'll have time for myself too.
5. Tomato Timer
I often use the tomato timer so that I can work more efficiently and get things done quicker. I'm prone to procrastination - especially with social media - so using the tomato timer forces me to stop looking at my phone. The tomato timer works by setting up a timer for 25 minutes of work time and then you can schedule in 5 and 10-minute breaks. It's a great way to break up your work so that you don't forget to take breaks and allows me to have short bursts of productive work which is great for writing reports or reading papers. I generally set myself a goal for the 25 minutes - something along the lines of: read and annotate a paragraph/page of X paper or write notes for my next Forbes article. Hope it works for you!
All in all, for me, it's all about organisation and keeping a routine. And yes, I do have days where I don't complete some or any of the things on my to-do list for the day. I always have to remind myself that I'm only human and there's only so much work I can physically do in one day and that sometimes life can get in the way of things too.
Also, motivation is key - I do so many things because I love the things that I do - I love talking about science so I make time for it even if it's part of my weekend. So do what you love and it won't feel like you're working - follow your heart and passion! :)
I really hope these tips have been useful and let me know in the comments if you use any of these and how you work efficiently - I'd love to know!