We all only have 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. And as much as we'd like to buy additional time or collect excess time to save up for when we really need it, we are limited and constrained as business owners, spouses, parents, and friends, and must learn how to maximize the limited time we do have each day. Time management is a process, and is skill that is not easily achieved in the short term. But through practice, habit, and consistent behaviors, you can hone those skills and create a work/life balance that works for your business, your family, and for you, by utilizing an effective time management system.
Today we're sharing a few tips on time management, and how to make the most out of the time you put into your business and in turn, every other facet of your life.
1. Know Your Goals
Make sure that you are setting goals for your business, and you're engaging in activities that support your business. If you are spending time on tasks or activities that are not getting you closer to the goals you want to achieve, then then those might be some of the tasks you begin to cut out or outsource to others. And don't just set goals for your business, but set specific time management goals too. You should be aiming to change behavior in becoming more efficient, not necessarily change time! So identifying your time management goal (Decrease stress? Increase productivity?) can be helpful.
2. Utilize a Time Tracker to Find Those Time Wasters
Once you establish your business goals, it's a good idea to evaluate your time and see how you're spending it- what you're doing, what you're not doing, what you're spending too much time on or not enough time on, and how you can adjust your tasks and activities to be more in line with your goals. Use a time tracking worksheet to track how you spend your time every hour for a week, and then review. Keep or add tasks that work towards achieving your goals, and cut out the time wasters that keep you from doing work you need to be focusing on. Also identify things you're spending time on that might be better delegated or outsourced.
3. Prioritize- Break Down Your To-Do List
Once you've cut out your time wasting activities and figured out what tasks you need to do to fulfill your responsibilities and reach your business goals, break them down by their importance and their urgency. Make sure you're doing the urgent and important tasks first, and getting the urgent but not as important tasks done and out of the way! Consider delegating or outsourcing the important but non-urgent and the non-important and non-urgent tasks, or push them down the to-do list to focus on at another time.
4. Set "Office Hours" and WORK!
If you work from home, it can be particularly easy to become distracted with other tasks. If you set "office hours" and focus on strictly working during those set times, you'll find that you get more accomplished rather than having a day full of unscheduled time that can easily go under-utilized. Literally schedule work time into your day.
5. Schedule the Rest of Your Day Out Too!
Time batching is a great time management technique that groups like tasks together to knock out all at one time. Create routines and stick to them to form keystone habits, or habits that keep all the others in place and solicit other good habits that eliminate the bad ones.
6. Utilize a Daily Calendar/Tool/App/System
Some people only need a daily calendar with an hourly breakdown to time black and plan out their day or week. Some people use a weekly calendar to devote particular days to certain tasks or projects. Some people use list apps or project management systems to stay organized and save time. Whatever works for you, use it! The important thing is using your tool consistently and stick with it to create new habits and new routines.
7. Eliminate Distractions
Put your phone away. Go to a coffee shop or workspace. Turn off the tv. Distractions like social media or cellphone notifications can kill productivity, and can exacerbate procrastination. There are even new websites like Win the Day (www.wintheday.com) which is a Chrome extension, that can optimize productivity. It transforms your browser so you can set goals, get focused, cut out distractions, and get more done!
8. Just Say No!
If you already feel overextended or that you can't focus, don't add more to your already full plate. Just say no to new obligations, invitations, and responsibilities. Whenever you say yes to a task or activity, you are also saying no to another one, and possibly a more important one. Make sure you are saying yes to those activites that are putting you closer to your business and time management goals.
9. Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Make sure you are getting enough sleep. You are eating a balanced diet. You are allowing (or scheduling!) time for exercise. When you are hungry or exhausted, you aren't performing at peak level, and can lack focus and strength and concentration for really applying yourself and effectively completing the tasks at hand. But when you're rested and feeling good and are allowing (scheduling!) time for self-care, you will be able to be more effective during those periods of activity.
What tips or tricks or apps do you use to manage your effectively?