How do I find the time?

How do you find the time?

That is a question I normally get when I talk with people and tell them that I garden and I also tend to my herd of sheep and goats. My normal response is “I just find it”. Meanwhile, in my mind I am speaking two words. Two words that can make every person get more done if they would just “find the time” to implement this simple task into their daily lives. The two words are Time Management. I am sure everyone has heard these words being used many times and have brushed it aside. I am guilty for not believing that time management actually works but guess what? IT DOES!

“If you are on time, you are late. If you are 15 minutes early, you are on time”

After I graduated college I started freelancing as a web/graphic designer and also took on a part time job as a package handler. I would work on my clients’ projects throughout the day and late into the night. I would get a couple hours of sleep and head to my part time job. After a year and a half of this I had burned myself out. I left my job and I lost my interest in my design work and I was totally focusing on DJing and making music. What a crazy turn, right? I stayed afloat with small client work and smaller DJ gigs for a year. That summer I took another turn in my life. Looking back this might have been my greatest decision thus far in my life. I signed up to join the US Army.

While I was in the Army, I had been trained to be physically and mentally tough and to always be on time. “If you are on time, you are late. If you are 15 minutes early, you are on time” was a saying that was implemented into brains. We learned to use our time wisely. We learned to plan and how to manage our time. These became critical when we planned and executed our missions. Our First Sergeant would tell us “Slow is smooth. Smooth is Fast.” At the time, I did not know what that meant.

“The most important step that is forgotten in time management is tracking the amount of time that a task takes to complete.”

I started working in a sign shop after my service. This is where I learned that I had actually learned how to manage my time properly. We would get busy in the summer times and as I got better with experience I gained more responsibilities in the shop. Designing, plotting, printing, milling and helping with production. I learned to focus on one task at a time and to track how much time each task took to complete. That is the most important step that is forgotten in time management, tracking the amount of time that a task takes to complete. We had several real estate companies that we printed sings for. They had a template set up in our system. One sign to design took a minute, tops. Enter the agent’s name and phone number. Save and export the file. Simple, right? Print setup took another minute. Import the file and let the print software rip that file. When the file is done ripping it is ready for print and gets put in the print queue. Printing depended on the amount of signs that were ordered. Let’s say this agent ordered 5 signs. I would put a quantity of 10 to print, one for each side. Our printer would print these 10 in about 4 minutes. My total time for a sign from design to print is 6 minutes.

When you start to track your time for each task, you start to notice how much time a task will take from you. For the example above, I would write it down as a 10 minute task. I give myself those 4 extra minutes in case something goes wrong. The printer jams, the ink is streaking, the rip malfunctions, or anything else that could go wrong. It is the same concept I use every day on my farm and in my garden. I know exactly how much time a certain task will take me. I started gardening in 2015. Since then I have tracked my time. I write down my daily plan and my weekly plan with allotted times. Start to track your time for the tasks that you do and you will be on your way to managing your time properly.