It is essential for good time management not only to determine where you are spending your time, but how you should be spending your time. We are back to that 80/20 rule again. What are the 20% tasks that determine 80% of your results? If you can figure this out and then spend most of your time on these activities each day, you are well on the way to managing your time effectively. Proper time management is one of the keys to success in any business or other venture.
I like to plan my day the night before. This helps me to get off on the right foot the next morning. Some people use their computer or smart phone to keep their schedule. I think this is fine if it is what you want to do. But for me, I like to use the “index card method”. I list everything I want to do that day and then prop the card up next to my computer monitor. When I’m in the office, it is a constant reminder of all I plan to accomplish and it helps keep me on task. Be sure to prioritize everything on your list. All of my “interruptions” such as meetings are also on the list. If I need to do banking or other business related errands, I can do these things either before or after my meeting so I am only out once during the day. You will also find a second index card on my desk (typically a different color) that lists larger projects for that week or that month. I can usually fit in some time to work on these larger projects each day. If you look at my daily list of things to do you will surely find some tasks that pertain to one of my larger projects. You’ve probably heard the joke that says, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is of course, “One bite at a time”. This is how you manage any big project. Break it down into small pieces and attack it one piece at a time.
Here are some tips that may help you get a better grip on your time:
1. Start with your most important tasks the first thing in the morning. Turn your phone off for an hour or two. Don’t check email. Just jump right in and go to work. And by the way, skip the news in the morning. The news will happen whether or not you are there to listen to it. You don’t need to begin your day with a lot of negativity. As a bonus you will have 30 minutes more to devote to your work each morning and that just might get you out of the office a little earlier each day.
2. Concentrate on one thing at a time. This will allow you to finish each task more quickly and you will have more time in your day for other things. It will also make it much easier to manage deadlines. Jumping from one thing to another is a very ineffective way to use your time.
3. Learn to say no to time wasters. Delegate less important tasks to others when you can. If you are a sole proprietor, consider outsourcing or hiring a college student to help out occasionally. There are many companies where you can outsource some of your work that are very affordable. Check out Elance.com for information on the types of services they provide.
4. Make sure the work you are doing each day is moving you closer to your goals both short term and long term. Whatever you are working on, try to enjoy the process. You will find that you will have much less stress in your day if you are able to do this
Anyone can get better at time management with a little practice. Managing your time is a little bit like taking a trip. You need a map for both. So get in the habit of “mapping” out your day before it begins and you will be amazed at how much more you accomplish.
If you want to lean more about goal setting and mastering your time, Raymond Aaron has written phenomenal a book called “Double Your Income While Doing What You Love”. He has been a very valuable mentor to me for several years and I highly recommend his books and programs. This book sells for somewhere around $25.00-$30.00, and it is available everywhere.