In running a business, time is very important, and to succeed, you must as a matter of fact allocate time to everything. Some entrepreneurs respond to this fact of life with focus and purpose. Others freak out.
Here are ELEVEN tips for effectively managing your time:
- Understand what your goals are.
Engage yourself with activities that will add value to your business, by creating and understanding your goals, both short- and long-term. Everything else is a potential time-waster. Your daily plan should revolve around working on tasks and activities that directly relate to generating income and growing your business.
2. Complete most important tasks first.
This is the golden rule of time management. Each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first.
Once you’re done, the day has already been a success. You can move on to other things, or you can let them wait until tomorrow. You’ve finished the essential.
- Prioritize wisely.
Stephen Covey, co-author of First Things First, offers an organizational tool for your to-do list based on how important and urgent tasks are.
Looking at what goes into making up your day, where do your activities fit into these categories?
- Important and urgent— Tasks that must be done. Do them right away.
- Important but not urgent— Tasks that appear important, but upon closer examination aren’t. Decide when to do them.
- Urgent but not important— Tasks that make the most “noise,” but when accomplished, have little or no lasting value. Delegate these if possible.
- Not urgent and not important — Low-priority stuff that offer the illusion of “being busy.” Do them later.
Write down your three or four “important and urgent” tasks that must be addressed today. As you complete each one, check it off your list. This will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and can motivate you to tackle less essential items.
4. Go One Day at a Time
You can certainly plan out your week, month and even year in some respects so you have an idea of what you will be working on and when, but when it comes to real-life implementation, start with today. Not only do you not know exactly what tomorrow has in store for you, but focusing on the here and now can help you stay present and engaged. Take the lessons learned from each day, especially as they relate to productivity and time management, and apply them to tomorrow. You may even end up ahead of where you wanted to be when you move along day-by-day.
- Learn to say no.
You’re the boss. If you have to decline a request in order to attend to what’s truly important and urgent do not hesitate to do so The same goes for any projects or activities that you’ve determined are headed nowhere: Be prepared to move on to more productive tasks. Learn from the experience to avoid wasting time later on.
- Have a daily strategic plan.
One of the worst things you can do is jump into the workday with no clear idea about what needs to get done. The time you spend thinking ahead and planning your activities is trivial compared with the time you’ll lose jumping from one thing to the next (and rarely completing anything). Depending on your personality, try one of these options:
- The night before — At the end of the day, take 15 minutes to clear your desk and put together a list of the next day’s most pressing tasks. It’s a great decompression technique, and you’ll feel better sitting down at a clean desk in the morning.
- First thing in the morning — arrive a few minutes early and assemble your prioritized to-do list (see #2). This may prove to be the most productive part of your day.
7. Stop procrastinating and just do it
Everyone is guilty of procrastinating, but for some it’s a chronic problem that is a major obstacle to success. You know that looming report or assignment isn’t going to go away, so you just have to bite the bullet and get stuck in.
- Eliminate distractions.
Start paying attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Track self-induced interuption too, particularly those of the social media variety. Your smartphone is extremely useful, but it’s also addictive and among the most insidious time-wasters known to mankind.
It may take a massive exercise in will power, but shut the door and turn off your phone to maximize your time. Instead of being “always on,” plan a break in the day to catch up on email, call people back, talk with staff, etc.
9. Take regular breaks
Breaks will keep your mind fresh and you will be able to return to your work with better focus. If you work straight through, you will put in more hours but work less productively.
- PUT A TIME LIMIT ON TASKS.
Take another look at your time audit and identify tasks that take longer than you expect. By setting time constraints for these items, you will focus more and work more efficiently. If you still find yourself going beyond these time limits, examine your workflow and eliminate little time-wasters like unscheduled breaks.
11.Take care of yourself.
Be sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise. An alert mind is a high-functioning mind and one that’s less tolerant of time-wasting activities.