Wear the Right Hat!

Over the next several months, I’ll be writing for Joanne’s blog on time management. When Joanne asked me to do this, it really made me stop and think, ‘how do I do all the things I do?’ – as I do seem to cram an extraordinary amount of stuff into a day.  The answers I came up with were very interesting, and not entirely what you’d expect. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the subject with you.

I find the overall key to time management is to wear the right hat at the right time. This is all about being flexible and patient with yourself on any given day. This can take some dedication, because sometimes it means that certain areas in your life or business won’t move forward until you are in the right frame of mind. I find it is a quality over quantity issue, and personally, I’d rather have the quality.

For instance, in addition to my Your Ad Hoc PA business, I am starting a new company called paperkatie.  Paperkatie is all about girly little decorative things made by my fair hand.  This requires creativity.  While I am always creative, I am not always paperkatie-appropriate creative. I will have a day of brilliance where I design a whole range of products, but then I might go two weeks before I have a day where I can actually make the prototypes.

At first glance this might sound a rather ineffective way of going about things.  But, if I try to create on a day when I am not in a creative headspace, I can waste a huge amount of time. I’ll be distracted by 100 other things, from putting the kettle on to sorting the sock drawer, in order to avoid having to do something I’m not in the right place to do. However, if go with my own inner flow, I can achieve real brilliance in my work.

Of course, when it comes to deadline-driven projects and children, we have to be reactive and do what’s necessary in the moment, even if it doesn’t suit where our head is at. But otherwise, there’s no point in wearing an ill-fitting hat. It’s uncomfortable, for a start. You can’t be productive when you are trying to force it.

A rigid schedule works for some, and you have to do what’s right for you. But if weeding the garden from 9-10pm (like I do!) fits, go with it! You may find the amount you can accomplish in a day grows exponentially when know and trust your instincts.

Kate Laine-Toner is a portfolio WAHM who runs Your Ad Hoc PA and paperkatie as well as co-owning design agency BENK with her husband, Ben. They have an 11-month old daughter, Emily.

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  1. Lyn Blackledge
    August 2, 2010 / 3:04 pm

    That was so refreshing to read and so like me – even down to weeding the garden between 9 and 10!!! When I was critised earlier this year for wearing many hats – I knew it was right for me and it was my decision. I disassociated myself from my critique very quickly and it was soooo the right decision for me. I know have  team members, face book friends etc who love what I do. You just have to do what is right for you. I always taught my children that and now am taking my own advice. Great article. thanks.

  2. Kate Laine-Toner
    August 2, 2010 / 3:45 pm

    Lynn, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my article. I truly appreciate your kind words! I think when we do all have so many hats to wear, you just have to go with the flow in the moment. The beauty of being self employed is that on the occasional weekday we can take some time off when we are not ‘in the zone’. We know full well we’ll make it up on Saturday or Sunday, or even in the middle of the night! Thanks again.