How & Where to Invest...Your Time
By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor
Regardless of how one uses it or stretches it, each of us only gets 24 hours to spend a day. For those counting, that’s 1,440 minutes to get everything done, all the need-to and want-to items on our to-do lists. If we let them, our commitments could be in constant conflict.
The topic lends itself naturally to countless articles and studies (ranging from how to balance and/or separate “life” and “work” to the impact of stress on our mental and physical well-being). Regardless of the source, the premise is usually the same: being a professional (or grown-up for that matter) is tough. The good news is that you care enough to give it your best shot.
Managing where we spend our time – on projects, on learning, on relationships, on ourselves – is one of the most important decisions we make and lessons we learn (and likely re-learn). As someone in the somewhat (it’s all relative) early stages of understanding the difficulties of managing a (fortunately) full life, it’s becoming clear that compromises must be made and life hacks must be found.
Budgeting time is similar to robbing Peter to pay Paul – time has to be taken from one source to use it toward another. Time can be certainly be manipulated, but can never be created. In personal lives, this could mean when parents go out with friends, they are investing in important relationships (and their sanity), but also taking time away from the kids. They may make it up to their children with a special outing or something that then takes the parent away from the errands or chores that need to be completed. This example could be spun a million different ways to fit anyone’s situation (think of working on the weekends means neglecting housekeeping, etc.), as priorities must be constantly given and shifted.
Everyone has their own priorities, compromises and even life hacks to manage it all, but when it comes to website management there are sources to help dictate where to invest one’s time.
In this month’s Insights on Analytics column (page 34), Duda Co-Founder and CTO Amir Glatt talks about the importance of spending time analyzing data that can be acted on, like traffic sources for instance. If a large percentage of website traffic is coming from a niche blog, let’s say, that’s a relationship that needs to be nourished – no doubt a valuable use of time. If only life had such telling metrics! Then again, the time still has to come from somewhere, which is when priorities must be given and shifted.
This could lead to a conversation about time management or tracking tools (see sidebar), but prioritizing is more personal than that. Prioritizing requires human intervention. Deadlines are certainly something that can be set, recorded and be automatically reminded of (simple calendars do that), but there are also different “human” expectations for projects.
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Person A expects a quick response, while Person B trusts “its” coming or similarly, Person A prioritizes this project lower than Person B prioritizes theirs. These expectations might not impact a company’s bottom line (so apps or software may prioritize them differently), but Web professionals have their hands in many pots, which means they alone need to assign value to each.
There isn’t an answer to it all, but rather a realization that while data helps, we must trust our hardworking peers and ourselves to prioritize – and that takes a significant amount of trial, error and, unfortunately, patience – that’s not to say, however, that training wheels don’t help (time trackers, deadlines, lists, weekly updates, etc.).