Each of us has only 24 hours in a day– so how do the most successful entrepreneurs manage to get so much more out of their days?
The key is knowing how to manage your time and prioritize. Here are 10 tips to help you improve your own time management and have more productive days.
1. Time Audit Yourself
The first step in time management is finding out where your time is going. For example, you may think that answering emails may just take you half an hour on responding to emails each day when in reality it could be taking you double the time. Track your time on each task with an app like HoursTracker, Toggl, or Timely. Once you’ve spent a week tracking your time, you can access a report and see what’s stealing away your time so you can start to make adjustments
2. Follow a To-Do List
To-do lists help you break down your projects and goals so that they’re more achievable. Plus, they help you keep your eye on the prize– you can see visually what you’ve accomplished and what more remains. But at the same time, you have to anticipate that there will always be interruptions. Consider limiting the number of to-dos you accomplish per day to accommodate for interruptions, but always return to incompleted tasks.
4. Plan Ahead
Always wake up with a plan. Without a plan, you will dither on trivial tasks rather than honing on what really needs your attention. It’s wise to spend 15 minutes the night before making a list of the most important to-dos for the next day. Then in the morning, picking the two to five most important and urgent to-do items to focus on first.
5. Mornings Are For MITs
MITs are most important tasks. You have the most energy in the morning, so it’s ideal to tackle the MITs when you’re at the height of your energy and not later in the day when you’ve lost steam.
6. Learn How to Delegate
It’s likely that you’ll discover tasks in your time audit that would make your life easier to get off your to-do list. Some people have a hard time letting someone else do work that they’re used to doing. And it can be especially hard to delegate work to another person when you don’t have time to train someone on how to complete them for you. But delegating can be a real time-saver. Let professionals such as your team members or experienced freelancers do tasks that would help free up your time. At the end of the day, time is money, and the time you get back for investing in outsourcing work is worth it long-term.
7. Schedule in Buffer Time
Scheduling tasks or meetings back-to-back all day may seem like a productive time-saver, but that’s not actually the case. When switching between activities throughout the day, our minds need time to buffer– we need to reset, recharge, let our minds wander a bit. 15-30 minutes between tasks and meetings can make a big difference in how well you focus while you’re working.
8. Follow the 80/20 Rule
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, suggests that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort put in. It’s just like how in business 80% of sales come from 20% of the customer. When you apply this to how you manage your time, 80% of what you accomplish comes from 20% of what you do each day. Try to limit your to-dos each day to keep them manageable.
9. Use an Online Calendar
Having a calendar you can access from any device with an internet connection is a no-brainer when it comes to time management. It’s not just scheduling that gets more efficient– it’s also great for setting up reminders. A paper calendar just doesn’t have that capability! Google Calendar is a great platform for keeping your appointments.
10. Block Similar Tasks Together
Different tasks require different types of thinking. By grouping similar tasks together in your schedule, you don’t force your brain to switch modes as much, and therefore you don’t need as much time to adjust. Put related tasks together in the same block of time on your schedule. For example, rather than answering emails as they come in, set a time, or a couple of times throughout the day to answer emails.
These time management tips are essential to creating more productive and accomplished days. Being intentional with your focuses is each day is key to wasting less of your own time. For more guidance in productivity and time management, reach out to Experience on Demand for help.