As a small business owner and entrepreneur, free time is likely something that’s difficult to come by. What you have plenty of, however, are tasks to accomplish and deadlines to meet. So, how can you better accomplish these tasks in a shorter amount of time? Time management is the art of doing more with everyday.
Let’s take a closer look at 20 time-saving tips to help you save time and increase efficiency throughout your workday.
- Set Goals
You should write out a detailed to-do list of the things you want to accomplish each day right after waking up. As you brainstorm items for your to-do list, think about the the other sub-tasks that will be required in order to accomplish each goal.
Ryan Hibbert has created a number of restaurant brands focused on niche consumers. He points out that his most recent expansion into health-conscious eating in Arizona wouldn’t have been possible without the ability to set clear, actionable goals.
If you are a leader in an organization, you need to be able to understand how your investment of time and energy is having a cumulative impact on the organization.
- Create a Time Management Plan
You’ll want to figure out when and how you’ll accomplish each item on your daily list. For example, will you need help, supplies, or other resources? Identify your needs to further focus your daily activities.
- Prioritize by Importance
There is no doubt that sometimes you’ll have to remove items off your to-do list, so decide early what the most important items are and prioritize. Accept the fact that it’s impossible to accomplish everything on the list. Start sacrificing low-value tasks for high-value tasks and your life will become measurably less stressful.
- Prioritize by Urgency
It’s essential use time management strategies to get to those projects that have urgent deadlines. Decide what you can leave for tomorrow or next week. And solely focus on the things that must be done today until they are done.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” –Michael Altshuler
- Break Down Large Tasks
If your list includes a few overwhelming items, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks with simple steps. The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
- Be Realistic
Don’t expect to accomplish everything in an hour. Your are running a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to visualize success when everything goes exactly right. But if you want to paint your life with the same brush, you’ll need to factor in the ups and downs of accomplishing any goal. And those ups and downs will cost you time – your most precious resource.
- Track Your Time
In order to better understand how you really spend your time, take a few days and write down everything you do and how long it takes. Include breaks, email, social media and everything else, so that you’ll find out what your biggest time wasters are.
I personally use a Google Sheet to keep track of this because it’s easy to edit from my phone, tablet or computer. Basically, no matter what I’m doing, I’m also logging my investment of time.
- Set Deadlines
If you need some motivation to complete a project, set a deadline for yourself and tell others about it so they can help hold you accountable. In fact, by telling someone else about your goal and then participating in regular meetings to check progress, you can increase your likelihood of success by a whopping 95 percent!
- Keep One Eye on the Clock
While you don’t want to constantly obsess about time, you also don’t want to let the day get away from you because you weren’t paying attention. Stay focused and stay on track. There are a few ways to track your time – my favorite is next…
- Set Reminders
If you have a deadline or meeting coming up, set a reminder on your phone that will go off shortly before. In fact, even on days where I’m working solo, I still like to set alarms on my phone to go off every two hours. This helps me remain focused on my work, along with regular reminders as to the amount of time I’m consuming.
- Schedule Breaks
Since everyone needs to take breaks throughout the day, make sure to account for them when scheduling your tasks for the day. I like to use the Rule of 52 and 17.
- Schedule Time for Email and Social Media
There is no doubt that email and social media can be big time wasters. You shouldn’t respond to every email as it comes in and don’t leave Facebook or Twitter open all day. Instead, schedule a short block or two throughout the day to accomplish these tasks.
- Use a Central Social Media Management System
If you use social media for marketing purposes, you probably have more than one account. Using a central platform like HootSuite can help you avoid going back and forth between sites, and even allows you to schedule posts throughout the day so you don’t need to constantly sign back on.
- Avoid Distractions
Outside of social media and email, there are a myriad of other distractions that can cause you to waste time throughout the day. If you work from home, turn off the TV. If you work in an office, take a different route to the water cooler to avoid talkative colleagues.
- Effective Time Management Allows you to Stick to One Task at a Time
While multitasking can sound like a time saver, it actually isn’t. Focus on one task, complete it and then move on. This is most effective if you’ve accurately prioritized your daily tasks – allowing you to focus without worrying about letting things slip through the cracks.
- Bundle Tasks
It can be helpful to do similar tasks consecutively. For example, make all your phone calls for the day back-to-back. This way you’re clearing voicemails that might otherwise distract you – allowing you to get other tasks done while the ball’s in their court.
- Incentivize Tasks
When you have a really difficult task to complete, give yourself a reward for completing it. It can be as simple as taking a break. Visualize something you’d like to do, and then focus on that reward while pushing through to the finish line.
- Focus on Results
You should have a clear understanding of why you are doing each task on your list. Consider how each item on your list will impact your company. If you can’t identify a worthwhile benefit to a task, let it go.
- Don’t Stress Over Unimportant Details
If something doesn’t have a big impact on your company, don’t stress about it. Ultimately, perfectionism can be a big time waster. And, if you let the pursuit for personal perfection get out of control, it can turn into a mental health issue.
In the art of time management, perfect really is the enemy of good. And good enough will allow you to move on without investing too much time in any one area of your business.
- Create Good Time Management Habits
You’ll want to create a habit of sorting files regularly, responding to emails in a timely manner, and quickly accomplishing any other tasks that show up on your to-do list so that it quickly becomes routine.
One of the ways that I take a break from the screens is by cleaning up my workspace. Because I work from home, I’m also cleaning my home. That way, when I’m done with my work for the day, I can enjoy a clean home. And, when I return to my desk, it will be clean and organized.
No matter how you improve your game, you’ll get the best return on your investment when you invest in yourself. And finding ways to improve your personal productivity is an excellent way to invest in yourself – both for long and short-term growth.