“I wish there were more hours in a day to get my work done. I’m swamped.”
You’ve said it.
We’ve said it.
And a lot of others have said it, too.
Phone calls. Video conferences. Social media. Important tasks. Meetings.
When you’re an entrepreneur, effectively managing your time is the stuff dreams are made of but not often realized. When you own, operate, and oversee your business, you have to wear many hats to keep it afloat.
Especially in today’s new world.
Today, we’re not only wearing many hats, but we’re also managing tight budgets, children and online school, household chores and partners and/or roommates who are right next to you all day, every day.
Whew. All of it is a lot to manage.
But? Have you ever considered that the problem is not that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but maybe the problem lies with how you manage your time? Time management is one of the most significant barriers facing an entrepreneur and their business. Especially today.
So, let’s stop wasting time and start using your day wisely with these time management tips and techniques:
1. Carve out one hour, every day, to respond to emails (and not emails from your cousin Susie about her latest cookie recipe.) We’re talking work emails only. Turn your phone off and set it in another room. Even if you don’t respond to all of your emails, just one hour will provide you with enough time to address them. It will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.
2. There’s a saying, “If you aim at nothing, you hit nothing.” Meaning, set your goals before you so you can “see” them and they become more attainable; you can visualize what you are accountable for. Every Friday, create your to-do list for the following week. Use Google calendar, a portable week-to-week calendar, or even a legal pad. Write your goals, tasks, and deliverables down. Write the day you need to start them and then write the day they are due and/or need to be completed. This gives you the time to prepare, approach—and complete—your tasks.
3. Are you the one who should be fielding calls and/or questions about human resources issues? If not, and you have someone on staff, redirect to them. Are you the one who should be answering questions about finance? If not, redirect. Often, we take on more than we should. Delegate. You’re allowed. You’ve hired these people because they’re qualified and experienced, so you must trust them to do their job.
4. Let’s hop back to our to-do list for the week. Let’s say it’s Monday; you sit down to your desk with your coffee and your list. You look at it. It’s overwhelming. Already, you want to scream. Stop. When it comes to your list, don’t look at the big picture. You have five hours of work today before the kids get restless, or the dog starts howling for a walk. Look at your list and circle the two to five things you know you can complete today. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your business. You built it carefully, strategically, and with intent. Approach your to-do list with the same mindset.
5. You’ve identified the two to five things you need to accomplish today. Great! Now break that down even further. Pick the most critical task and spend the next 30 minutes solely focused on that task. It may take longer to complete, or it may not, but you’ve approached the task and have gotten it up and moving. Do not move on to the next task until you’re satisfied it has been taken as far as you can for the day.
6. Time for a break! Too often, we don’t take the time to step away from our keyboard and breathe. Meditation is a proven method for decreasing stress. If meditation isn’t your thing, then simply stand up and stretch for a few minutes. Refill your water and get your blood moving. Sitting for too long is not healthy. Moving around will reset your mind and allow you to refocus on the rest of the day’s priorities.
7. Lastly, to effectively manage your time, you must release the notion of perfection from your mindset – “I am not perfect. I am human.” If you have an off-day or even an off conversation with someone, learn from it, and move on. Often, we are far too hard on ourselves. It’s okay not to be perfect. What a boring world it would be if no one ever made a mistake. The important thing is to learn from it and move on. You’re only one person, and you’re doing and accomplishing great things, every day. Give yourself credit.
What other time management tips might you have? We’d love to hear from you.