7 Tips to Better Manage Your Time
There’s so much to do, and so little time. The number one issue that business owners seem to struggle with, especially when they are in the growth phase, is that there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. You’re wearing a lot of different hats, take on many roles, and feel responsible for absolutely everything.
It’s frustrating when you feel like you never really cross things off your list. But the good news is that there is a better way. Here’s how you can manage your time instead of letting it manage you.
1. Plan your week ahead
The key to time management is planning your ideal week, with some flexibility included, and knowing what you’re doing in the week ahead. It’s important not to just plan the business aspects in your week, but everything that contributes to you living at a 10/10 – the fun stuff, time for yourself, and quality time with the people you care about.
2. Make a schedule for every day
Daily planning is crucial for managing your time. If you’re worried about dropping the ball or feel like you’re always jumping from one task to the next, don’t even attempt to start your workday without an organised to-do list. It’s even more effective when you create your list the day before as putting everything on paper will help you sleep better and not lie awake at night going over all the tasks that are running through your brain. You’ll feel much fresher when your plan for the day ahead is already set.
Don’t get overwhelmed if your to-do list is a mile long. Stressing over it will not make it any shorter, so breathe in, breathe out, and avoid the urge to multitask. Some days you’ll meet all your deadlines, hit the gym, and whip up a healthy home-cooked meal, too. Other days may not turn out to be that successful but don’t beat yourself up.
Most of us will have a few items left over that we didn’t get completed on the day. With a to-do-list, you get clarify on your priorities and can do the most important tasks when you are most productive. You can also specifically allocate time in your daily schedule for the things you need to catch up on.
3. Assign time limits to your tasks
Part of creating your schedule should involve setting time limits on tasks instead of just working on them until they’re done. You can check off your to-do list in 20-minute chunks, taking short breaks in between, and a longer break after completing four of your tasks.
There’s a productivity tip called Gene Schwartz’ 33 minutes rule that you could try as it’s brilliant in all it’s simplicity. Eugene Schwartz was one of the highest-paid copywriters of the 1950s and ’60s who once made $50 million dollars from a textbook on natural health and received more than two million orders on a fishing lure.
This time management technique enabled him to write nine books including the holy grail of copywriting “Breakthrough Advertising”, hundreds of hugely successful ads, and countless articles for well-known publications all over the world.
The 33 minutes rule:
- Choose one (bigger) task you want to work on that requires focus and concentration.
- Turn off all notifications and anything that could distract you.
- Set a timer for 33 minutes and 33 seconds.
- Don’t stop and don’t do anything else till your timer goes off.
- When the times goes off, take a break for 5-10 minutes.
- Reset the timer for another 33 minutes and 33 seconds and repeat.
4. Recognise and deal with your distractors
Once your week and day-to-day planning is done, don’t fall into the online trap of constantly looking at email or social media feeling the need to react immediately. That’s where you must stick to the plan. Do the other stuff in the blocks of time that you’ve allocated for them as it can wait! If you can’t concentrate, you can’t be in your sweet spot.
Turning off your phone is a great start if you are working on an important task. Although digital distractions are the most obvious, concentration can be affected by lots of things. An itchy tag on your shirt, a room that’s too hot or too cold, not having a water bottle nearby, or a pet that likes to jump on your keyboard. Deal to them before you start as without focus, there’s no flow.
5. Pick a system and commit
There’s a raft of time management techniques that can assist with getting to an effective and leveraged time spend, so find the ones that are right for you. There’s all sorts of software, online apps, and overall philosophies you can use, such as our Ideal Week.
You can print out the template and block out your time, scribble your to-do-lists in a notebook, use a Trello board or your Outlook calendar. It really doesn’t matter what system or approach you use, but it is vital that it’s something you completely buy into, understand fully, and commit to keep up with.
All the tools and planning will not do you any good if you don’t stick with your plan. Some days you might not be able to accomplish everything at the planned time, and that’s okay. Allow for some flexibility. Nothing is set in stone, and it is okay to take a break if you need one.
If you are a chronic procrastinator and want to break the habit, you’ll find some wisdom in this blog. Yes, procrastination is a habit. If you recognise what type of procrastinator you are and understand how it affects you, you can replace the habit with a better one.
6. Delegate tasks to others
Stop doing everything! Get the time-consuming low value jobs out of your life and spend more time on the things that count. Outsourcing tasks that you don’t enjoy doing is cost effectively and saves you time and frustration. If you hate mowing your lawns, doing the ironing, or taking care of the bookkeeping and administration, find someone to do it for you.
If you can earn $50 to $200 an hour doing what you do best, doesn’t it make sense to employ someone at $25 an hour to get it out of the way? There’s someone out there who loves the tasks you find mundane and consequently don’t do well anyway. Support another local small business by giving it to them, and you both win.
7. Take time to rest and recharge
The life of a business owner is fast paced, there’s no doubt about that. We’re expected to always achieve more, improve constantly, never stop hustling, and always try as hard as we can. No one can deny the impact of time and effort if you want to get things done, but you shouldn’t be busy all the time. It’s not productive and not healthy.
If you don’t take enough time to rest up you could face chronic stress and that will make you more irritable, less productive, and possibly depressed and anxious. That’s why you need to allow yourself to rest and recharge. Instead of trying to work insane hours all the time, save some of your energy for the sprints that really matter.
Taking a short nap, going for a walk, or meditating during your workday is not being lazy. It’s looking after yourself. Rest will improve your mood, motivation, productivity and creativity. Taking a digital detox or a day or two off can boost your energy and lead to higher quality work. It’s also important to keep some distance between work and your personal life so allocate time to spend with family and friends. In the long run, it’ll be healthier for you and your business.
Do whatever it takes
Keep in mind that success is not just measured by revenue numbers but also by your ability to achieve happiness. The foundation of good time management is knowing where you’re going and how to get there. Being successful and being super busy are two completely different things.
Setting goals can help you create a plan to guide your business where you want it to be. Manage your time better not because you have to, but because it’s important to you, and because you want to. If you are clear on your WHY and you’re committed, you’ll figure out a better way.
If you plan your activities, stick to the plan with some flexibility, and find the right people to help you get things done, you will have more time and be more efficient. Do whatever it takes to make your goals a reality, enjoy the journey along the way, and celebrate your success. That’s loving your life and that’s loving your business!
PS: If you want a copy of our ideal week template, let me know.