Imagine you wake up early to start your day. After all, you planned your activities the day before and got started with your work. But by the time it’s 4 pm or 5 pm (whatever time your office hours end), you feel frustrated.
I have so much to do. Where did the time go?
What did I accomplish today?
Don’t you wish you could just get a few more hours? By the time you get going, the day is almost over! And imagine the impact a wasted day could have on your bottom line!
I totally get it. Sometimes I feel like that too. But let’s be honest – what would you really do if you had more time? Would you use the extra hours wisely?
“You may delay, but time will not.”Benjamin Franklin
A successful business owner will tell you don’t focus on the number of hours you have, instead, determine how you will use them. By practising effective time management strategies, you can maximize your day and get more done. And best of all, you will have more time to relax and enjoy time with your family friends.
1. Keep Goals in Mind
When you started your business, you had a vision. You defined your goals and objectives (I hope you did) to help you achieve your vision. When you identify your daily tasks, consider whether each one directly helps you reach a specific goal or not.
If the task does not impact your goal, make a firm decision about how to handle it. You may need to:
- eliminate it from your list – It isn’t adding value to your operations or your bottom line
- move it to another day or time – It is not a high priority task so shift it lower down your to-do list
- delegate it to somebody else – You could get a Virtual Assistant to help you a few hours a week.
Start by choosing a day to plan. Some people like to plan on Sundays since they start their workweek on Mondays. Sundays are usually quiet for many so you could find an hour or two to plan. You could create a comprehensive list for the week but it is best if you break them down by day. Also, reduce your tasks to three to five manageable tasks for each day. When you focus on your 3-5 top priority items for each day, you will be more productive.
The next step is to put the tasks in order. Decide which is most important, then move to the second most important, and so on. Prioritizing will also ensure you use your time wisely. The other option is to hire a Virtual Assistant to help with other activities to reduce your workload.
3. Identify Your Most Productive Times
Do you communicate best early in the morning? Are you more creative in the evening or at night? Determine when is your best time of day for each type of task. You will also notice that there is a time of day when you are most productive. Identify these times and use them to schedule your daily tasks more effectively. While there are some tasks that cannot follow this approach, you will find that you could still get more done in your workday.
4. Create Time Blocks
If you want to be more focused, create a block of time for each task you have to do. To accomplish this, you first need to determine how much time you will need to complete the task. For example, you can decide to spend two hours per day for meetings and networking. Or, you may choose to spend thirty minutes a day to review your calendar for the next day.
Time blocks will help keep you on track and prevent you from staying too long on any one task. If you can, try to avoid using time blocks on tasks such as responding to emails and updating your calendar. A Virtual Assistant is more than capable of handling these types of activities so you can stay focused on your to-do list.
5. Remove Distractions
Ok, so this is a dealbreaker right here! If you want to be productive, remove the distractions. One study identified system notifications, email notifications, and the phone as common distractions. To avoid falling into this trap, there are a few things you can do.
- Start by setting times throughout your day to check emails. For example, you may choose to do so 2 or 3 times per day e.g. 8 am, 12 noon, and 4 pm.
- Make sure to turn off all notifications from your devices and sign out of social media.
- Set boundaries so people know when you’re working. That way you reduce the number of interruptions you get during the day.
6. Track Your Time
Do you know how much time you spend on activities? It may be a good idea (especially for recurring activities) to time yourself. I use the Toggl app with one of my clients. It allows me to add team members so all hours are recorded in one place. Also, Toggl generates a report which I could download and submit to clients, along with my invoice. Keeping track of your time is beneficial for several reasons:
- Toggl gives you a clear idea of the time it takes to complete an activity.
- It helps you to identify the time-suckers – those activities that take way too long!
- You can see just how productive you are….or not 😉
Let’s face it. You shouldn’t try to do everything yourself. As a business owner, you should be using your time to network, negotiate new deals, attend conferences, etc. So after you identify the time suckers, ask yourself:
“Is this (state the activity) worth the time?”
“Is this activity helping me to make more money?”
“Can I have someone do this activity?”
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”Peter Drucker
If you answer yes to these questions, then it sounds like time to bring a Virtual Assistant on board. You could have your VA send and respond to emails, make and receive calls, post content on your website and social media platforms, and so much more! If you need to take these time-suckers off of your plate, we have the expertise to help you.
7. Take Regular Breaks
Spending long periods of time doing something can be counterproductive. Instead of striking things off your list, you could feel stuck. You may find that you are losing focus or experiencing burnout. Been there, done that.
Time to change that!
If you want to make better use of your time, take a break. Yes, it’s that simple. Break up your tasks and throw in a few short rest periods. Use the breaks to do light exercises, get your favourite drink or snack, or meditate. Take your mind off of work and rejuvenate. When you get back to what you’re doing, you should feel a renewed energy and focus.
8. Schedule Fun Time
“All work and no play makes _________________ a dull boy or girl.” Feel free to fill the blank with your name.
Imagine if you spend every day working and not finding time to do fun activities! Wouldn’t that be boring, overwhelming, and frustrating? There’s more to life than just work. Yes, there is! When you are making your daily schedule, set aside time to exhale. This could be watching a fun video, taking a few stretches or calling a friend. You can indulge in these activities during intense activities, or use them as a reward for completing tasks.
9. Stop Multitasking
How often have you heard that it’s ok to multitask? Or persons boast about their ability to multitask? Well, recent studies have shown that multitasking actually doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it negatively impacts your ability to remain focused. It also prevents you from doing each task efficiently.
How many times have you tried replying to emails during business presentations? Or maybe you were chatting with a business associate while driving to a meeting? Were you successful every time? Probably not right?
So what’s the best way to stay on track? Focus on one task at a time.
10. Stay Organized
Take a look at your workspace. Is it organized? Do you know where everything is? If not, then it’s time to get organized. Put paper files in properly labelled folders. Do the same on your computer with your digital files. Develop a system so you could easily find what you need when you need it. Set aside a little time each day to clean up, organize, and put things where they belong. This step will reduce the time it takes you to search for things when you should be working on important projects.
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?“Henry David Thoreau
Are you still struggling to get the most out of your workday? Feel free to share your comments below.