Here are a series of effective strategies for improving your time management skills, and for doing more in less time.
The strategies described below will help you take charge of your schedule and use your time in a more effective manner. Grab your pad of paper and start by choosing five or six strategies to try, take some notes as you read through and decide which you will try first.
Remember this is an individual process – everyone works differently – so if you have to try a few different things to get some meaningful results, that’s okay/normal!
|Prioritise your tasks||> You can’t do everything, so you need to decide what is most deserving of your time investment.
> Choose what needs to be completed now, what can be completed later, and what can be delegated to someone else.
> Focus on your top three priorities at any one time, and consistently revise your list so that the highest priority items are on the top, and the lowest priority items are at the bottom.
|Delegate||> You can’t do everything, so you need to decide what you absolutely need to do, and what others can finish.
> You also need to accept that while it may seem “faster” for you to complete a task initially, spending the time to teach someone to complete the task will save you hours later on.
> Delegation is a vital skill that you need to refine, practise and master as a manager.
|Focus on your skills||> If you have a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, you can use this to your advantage.
> An effective way to manage your time is to only do the things that you know you are good at, or required for, helps to make money, and delegate or outsource the areas where you are not as strong.
|Say no||> Learn how to say no, and you will reclaim dozens of hours every week.
> It’s so easy to say yes to something in the moment, and later feel overwhelmed when that task is added to your to do list. You may feel pressure to say yes to everything as a business owner, but you do have a choice.
|Keep a strict schedule||> Create and keep a strict schedule for yourself that supports your productivity, and minimises distractions.
> Include personal and work time in your schedule
> Schedule time for things like closed-door work, work planning, email and phone responses, internal and external meetings, “me time”, family and exercise.
|Make decisions||> As a successful business owner, you will need to learn to make good decisions quickly and efficiently, without wasting time with deliberations.
> You can only make the best decision with the information you have, in the time frame you have to make it. No one expects you to be able to see the future – be decisive, make some mistakes, and learn from them.
|Manage interruptions||> Establish which hours of the day you are most productive, and set those hours aside for yourself to finish important tasks, uninterrupted.
> Schedule open door hours, and closed-door hours.
> Schedule windows of time for reading and replying to emails, and for answering and replying to phone calls.
|Manage interruptions Avoid duplicating efforts||> Take note of how many tasks are completed more than once, or by more people than necessary.
> Establish clear communication systems and procedures to minimise this, and make sure all your employees have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
> Use tools like checklists, meeting minutes and individual task assignments to minimise mis-communication and duplication in tasks.
|Stop procrastinating||> If you are a seasoned procrastinator, the idea of “just stopping” is usually much easier in principle than in practice.
> The best way to overcome procrastination is to use your willpower to stop. Refining this skill will help to prevent you from procrastinating in the future.
> Try working in blocks of focused time, with breaks or rewards at the end, and break down big tasks into small manageable ones – called ‘chunking’.
Effective time management is just a formal way of saying that you make good choices about how you spend your valuable time.
It really just boils down to making choices, and setting up a structure that enables you to succeed. You have to try a few different strategies and structures to see what works best for you.
Remember that self management is a personal investigation that will look different for everyone. Some people can work in the middle of a loud, crowded room, and others need absolute silence to function at a high level. Respect your own needs.
Next time – How to add value to your business