Isn’t it amazing how busy we get? Sometimes it is a lot like trying to run a marathon in a hamster’s wheel…no matter how fast we run, we don’t get very far.
Our businesses are overwhelmed with urgent tasks, requests, and demands that deplete our productivity and profitability.
Here are 5 time management tips for successful entrepreneurs:
1. Use a calendar system that works for you.
Whether it is an old fashioned paper DayTimer, a pocket calendar, or an electronic calendar synced to your phone and computer…use a system that will help you remember appointments and deadlines.
Integrate a task list that works with your calendar program to prioritize what is important. Schedule everything at first, until you figure out what needs to be on your calendar and what doesn’t.
This includes work, planning, and recreation. Remember, if it isn’t on the calendar it will probably be overlooked. Try to schedule and complete uninterrupted blocks of 30-60 minutes, followed by a 10 minute “circulation break,” until the task is completed.
Note: Personally, I use Google Calendar and Tasks because they work seamlessly on all my devices, and provide customized reminders that alert me to upcoming events and deadlines.
2. Manage your email by not letting your email manage you!
When you wake up, don’t get bogged down by checking your email first thing! This creates a sense of urgency to begin your day dealing with “O.P.P.” Other People’s Problems.
Instead, determine to make your morning routine your most productive time of the day, by getting things done before looking at your latest emails. If you can, don’t check your emails before 11 AM. What ever you decide works for you is fine, but stick to it as part of your productivity strategy.
My recommend daily routine:
- Wake up and jump out of bed at 5:30 AM
- Drink a healthy beverage to kick-start your energy
- Exercise for 30 minutes
- Shower and Dress for success
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Spend time in prayer/mediation
- Read something other than fiction for 30 minutes
At 8:00 AM
- Review your daily tasks (NOT your email!)
- Work on the “TOP 5″ tasks for the day and attempt to accomplish them before 11 AM.
- Drink more water instead of caffeinated beverages, which cause you to take more unscheduled breaks to go to the bathroom and arguably inhibits creative brain functions.
Schedule your “email checks” beginning at 11 AM.
We have been trained to believe that we must react to every request. That habit is a productivity killer! Don’t fall for it! Schedule 2-3 “email checks” throughout the day, followed by no more than 30 minutes to deal with, or schedule time to resolve, all emails/issues.
- Moving efficiently, start with the quick and easy items, taking care of replies immediately.
- Delete all unimportant items immediately (unsubscribe from “junk mail” lists if possible).
- Attempt to get to “INBOX ZERO” in the 30 minute time period.
If a reply will take more than a few minutes to complete, schedule a block of time on your calendar as a task to deal with the larger issue, then move on to the next email/item (see #4 Prioritize Everything).
Since some things are important, but not necessarily important at that moment, consider using a product called, “Boomerang.” Boomerang allows you to remove emails from your inbox, returning them back at the scheduled time of your choosing. You can also schedule outgoing emails with Boomerang too!
3. Utilize software that saves time through automation.
- Do you need to share documents with collaborators? Google Drive will give you control over who can access, view, or edit shared documents.
- If you would like to schedule social media posts ahead of time, instead of in real-time, check out Hootsuite or SproutSocial. You can manage your social media from one application, instead of logging in to each platform individually.
- Use Boomerang to get to inbox zero more often and have important emails return closer to the date they require action. There are applications for just about everything. Some are worthless and others are priceless.
- To find out the best app for your problem, ask others what they recommend and read their reviews, instead of trying out every potential app for yourself. Allow others to be your research team.
Instead of allowing the “Tyranny of the Urgent” to overtake your productivity, rank all your tasks by priority and add them to your calendar and/or task list immediately.
Don’t check your email or take phone calls before 11:00 AM and work diligently on completing your “TOP 5″ most important tasks before your first “email check” (See: Manage your email by not letting your email manage you!).
You will get much more done if you aren’t distracted by incoming emails or phone calls and despite what you may have heard, the world won’t end if you don’t reply back to someone right away.
Decide if a task is really necessary to complete for the success of your business. This may be very hard to do, but much of what we spend our limited time on is really unnecessary “minutia” that could be ignored completely.
We may need to let some things go, in order to focus on what is really important. Like my kids keep singing, “LET IT GO!”
Schedule a specific time to work, plan, and play. Stop bringing your work home with you by scheduling to complete it at work! Seriously, this can change your business, family, and health.
Use your Calendar and Tasks to set aside scheduled time to complete necessary tasks. Getting the important items on the calendar is essential for getting them done.
Make sure to schedule enough time to complete the task in 1 block or if necessary, schedule multiple blocks of time to work in stages, but always schedule the task. Take breaks every 30 minutes or minimally every hours to keep your circulation and mind focused.
Schedule time for you too. Personal growth doesn’t happen by chance, it is planned. Schedule time for exercise, reading, prayer, continuing education, and leisure.
5. Delegate what ever you can and batch process the rest.
What can you ask someone else to do for you? Delegating tasks to others will free your time and your mind. If you don’t have an employee, hire a Virtual Assistant that can work remotely for a fraction of the cost of a traditional employee, and start giving them tasks to complete.
- Social Media Management
- Creative design and much, much, more.
These tasks can be accomplished by someone other than you for a fraction of the price and many times with better quality (depending on your expertise). Start looking for ways to delegate tasks to others.
What if I have to write the blog post myself?
If you have to do the work yourself, learn the importance of “Batching” your tasks! Assume for a moment you post an article everyday on your blog. Instead of mentally gearing yourself up to write an article at the last minute, costing you 1+ hours every time you publish, take a couple hours on Monday to write 7 blog posts all in one sitting – then schedule each post to publish automatically daily at 4PM. By batching the blog writing, you only need to get in the writing zone once!
It takes a lot less time to write 7 posts in one sitting than it does to write 7 posts on 7 different days, so if you batch your work, you’ll end up with more time and energy and your readers will still be impressed with your content. Being busy doesn’t equal efficient.
Distractions easily entangle us costing us productivity. Here are some examples of multitasking:
- Having your email program open while working on a task.
- Listening to the radio while trying to work (particularly if you have to concentrate on what is being said to understand it).
- Watching TV or movies while you’re working.
- YouTube, Facebook, Twitter…or other social networking.
- Your phone. Enough said.
Not that any of these things are inherently “bad,” but trying to do them while being productive is a recipe for failure. If you want to enjoy an item on the list, schedule it and do it. Then put it away and focus on the task at hand.
Being more productive is a major key to your business success. Increased productivity could also mean higher profits, better commission, or a promotion. Start taking steps today to make productivity a priority. Let me know if you have any suggestions for the list.
Kirk Anderson is an Internet Marketing and Business Consultant and owner of Interactive Business Solutions, LLC. Do you need help managing your business marketing, internet presence, and social media? We can help your business succeed! Give us a call today!