We all need more hours in the day, right? As an entrepreneur, your time seems to fly by like seconds. Before you know it, you’re halfway through the day and you haven’t checked off half of your To-Do List! So, what’s the answer? You can’t conjure any more time in the day, but you can make better use of the hours you have.
Read on to discover my top 5 tips for managing your time more efficiently.
1. Have a listThe first thing I always tell my clients is to make sure they have a list. As an entrepreneur, you’re usually focussing on a multitude of activities, dealing with constant interruptions and managing conflicting priorities, so it can be difficult to know what it is you’re really meant to be focussing on. By having all your tasks written down on a list you can quickly see at a glance what you need to work on next. It doesn’t matter if you keep your list on a notes app on your iPhone, whether you’re a pen and paper sort of gal, or if you use something dedicated such as Trello (I used to be a pen and paper girl myself but now I absolutely LOVE Trello!)
Just make sure you’re consistent with whichever model you use. Each time you have something that pops up in your day demanding your attention, don’t act on it but simply write it onto your list.
It’s easy to jump from one task to another as soon as the thought pops into your mind, but by doing this, you’ll end the day with a whole heap of half done tasks and won’t feel like you’ve really achieved anything. Anything and everything that you need to do should go onto your Master Task List, so you can easily see all the things you need to complete.
So, my number 1 tip to more productivity, is to write a Master Task List and make sure absolutely everything you need to do goes on this list.
Now you have a master task list which is great. Looking at your long list of things to do can also be overwhelming and can stifle your productivity. It’s easy to go into procrastination mode not really knowing where to start. So, my second tip is to Prioritise.
Each morning (or at the end of each day), have a look at your Master Task List. Pick the top 3 things you want to achieve that day. Yep – only 3! Write those 3 things down onto your ‘To Do Today’ List in orde3r of their priority. i.e. the main thing you want to achieve is written down first, your second priority is on your list second, and then the third follows.
Begin working on your top priority and don’t move onto anything else until you’ve finished it. When it’s complete, cross it off both your ‘To Do Today’ List and your Master Task List and then you can move onto your second priority for the day. Follow the same rules for this task and also your third task.
If you complete all 3 tasks before your day is complete, go back to your Master Task List and choose your next priority and start on that one. At the end of your day, clear your To-Do Today list, even if you haven’t finished working on some of the items. When you start your day tomorrow, look at your Master Task List with fresh eyes and determine your 3 priorities for the day again. You might find that the items that were left unfinished from yesterday make it back to your list again today, but you may also find that your priorities have changed, and you’ve got 3 brand new tasks to complete.
Tip No. 2: Priorities your tasks and create a ‘To-Do Today’ List.
3. Eliminate Distractions
How many times do you get distracted throughout the day? How much time does that cost you? Each time you stop what you’re doing to check an email, respond to a social media notification, talk to a co-worker etc, it costs you dearly in time. It’s not just the distraction itself that costs you, but it is also the added time it takes to remember where you were up to, work out what you needed to do next and to then recommence work again that all adds to the time out of your day. So, managing your distractions is a vital part of managing your time effectively.
Think about the distractions in your day and work out what you can do to eliminate or minimise them. Social media and email notifications are one of the biggest distractions for most people. They pop up on your phone and on your screen, they play a cute little sound to alert you and you feel good when you check them. You may even respond to a message or an email which makes you feel even better as you feel like you’ve completed a ‘task’ giving you a sense of satisfaction and this encourages you to check the notification again next time it pops up.
You need to be honest with yourself though. Did that message or email really need to have an immediate response? Could it have waited until you’d finished your current task or even better, the end of the day? Monitor your distractions for a day or two. Make note of what interrupts you and how often it occurs. Then determine how you can eliminate or reduce the distractions.
For example, turn off email notifications and put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Then schedule times in your day when you will check them and respond. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll regain in your day. For more help with distractions, take a read of my blog Bright Shiny Objects and How to Leave them alone.
Tip No. 3: Eliminate and reduce as many distractions as possible to keep yourself focussed and efficient.
Having a messy desk or being engulfed in clutter reduces your ability to focus properly. Every time you look around, you spot something else that needs your attention. It’s easy to get distracted, it’s easy to shift from task to task without completing the first one, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed as clutter also takes up mental space and energy.
Think about walking into a room full of clutter. Do you feel relaxed, focussed, and ready to get started on your next project? Or do you feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start or what to do first?
Clutter weighs you down, inhibits your creativity and takes up valuable mental and physical space. It causes a lot of procrastination as you don’t know where to start with things. On top of all that, you often have to search for things amongst your clutter or you lose your work and must re-do it. You may simply forget where you were up to on a project because your notes are somewhere in the clutter on your desk.
The thought of clearing clutter can lead some people to panic though because it seems like such an overwhelming task. If this is you, then just pick one thing at a time to concentrate on. Start small with something like a drawer and get that in top shape. Make a commitment to keep it that one. Once you’re comfortable you’ve gotten that under control, move onto the next area. Before you know it, you’ll be super organised and without a hint of clutter in your life!
Tip No. 4: Get rid of the clutter to eliminate distractions and lost time, and to increase your focus, productivity, and creativity.
How much of the work you do, really must be completed by you? Is there a percentage that could be delegated or outsourced? Now I can sense many of you screeching and clutching at your tasks. Holding them tight because nobody will ever do them as well as you or the way you want them done, but take a breath and hear me out.
You might be the absolute master at that particular task. Maybe it’s easier for you to do it yourself rather than trying to explain over and over to someone where they’ve gone wrong and how you really want it done. But . . . (and it’s a BIG but) could you be spending your time on more important things?
It’s hard to let go of things when you’ve been taking care of them for sol long. To allow your business to grow though, you need to be focussing on the highest priority items. You can only create time for these if you let go of some of the things you’ve been controling.
Yes, your presentations may be the best you’ve ever encountered. Even if they’re not quite the same when you ask someone else to do them, what is the worst possible scenario that could happen? And, what more important task could you be doing with your time?
Delegation can be difficult for some people, but have a look through your Master Task List and see where you can delegate or outsource some tasks to free up time in your day.
Tip No. 5: Delegate or Outsource some of your tasks to create additional time in your day
Use my Top 5 Tips for Time Management to find space in your day that you knew never existed.
Do you already use any of these tips? What other timesaving tricks do you use? Share with us in the comments below.