You may answer, ‘I’m so busy. I work all the time!’ But, being busy and being effective are two different things. You can do a huge amount of non-essential ‘busy work’ and be exhausted at the end of the day, but not very effective.
Time management isn’t about writing to-do lists or keeping meticulous records. There are great software solutions that can perform this for you. How can you evaluate your time-management skills and improve your effectiveness?
You have permission to procrastinate on those tasks you least like. Are you excited yet? Haven’t you always been told todo the tasks you least like first? You attend to the filing first thing in the morning, wanting to get it out of the way before you tackle more important tasks. But, if you are like most people and are at your creative peak in the morning, this may quickly backfire on you. Here’s another way to look at managing your time:
- Do the tasks that earn you the most money first. Learn to prioritize your tasks by those that pay the best. Don’t have enough time left to finish the filing? Considering hiring someone, at least part time, to attend to those things that don’t require your skill and expertise.
- Know yourself. Are you most creative and energetic in the morning? This is the time you need to work on those tasks which will earn money. Use your quieter, less energetic hours to accomplish tasks which don’t require high energy.
- Calendar your tasks. Use Google calendars to schedule those things you need to do. Make use of the color-coding feature. Use your calendar to schedule blocks of time to work on such things as marketing, customer relations, accounting, organization, learning, vision casting, etc.
- Multi-tasking doesn’t work. According to an article in Psychology Today, Multi-tasking is really ‘task switching’ and reduces your effectiveness by up to 40%. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-wise/201209/the-true-cost-multi-tasking )Work on one activity at a time. Do not move on until that activity is complete, or you’ve reached a point where you can’t go any further.
- On delegating – ask yourself ‘what am I currently spending time on that does not absolutely require me’ and ‘am I working on a task right now that will lead me to my goals?’. Answering these questions honestly will help you prioritize and delegate anything to which you aren’t essential.
- Write down 10 accomplishments at the end of each week. What was valuable about those accomplishments? Did they propel you toward your goal? Get your mind-set in order – and plan according to value.
- Learn to make decisions. Indecisiveness wastes huge chunks of time. Go about it with a What outcome are you looking to produce? What steps must you take to achieve that outcome? Write down three options. What are the pros and cons of each? Then decide. And move on.
- Let technology work for you. Rescue Time is a great option. It runs in the background on your computer and gives you a nifty report which will tell you how much time you are spending on social media, internet, accounting, marketing, etc. You set the parameters. You can even ask it to sound an alarm when you have exceeded your desired time on Facebook. A weekly report gives you the time you spent on each task, allowing you to really understand where all that time went. (https://www.rescuetime.com/features ) . IFTTT is another great product. It can create automation where your personal attention isn’t needed, such as creating a response in Twitter when you are tagged on Facebook. (We assume this is occurring on your business page!) (https://ifttt.com/wtf )
- Take lots of breaks. Every couple of hours, get up and stretch. Take a walk, work on something creative for 15 minutes. Let your mind wander. Even take a 30 minute nap during your daily ‘slow time’ (for most of us it’s in mid-afternoon). You will return refreshed, with better ‘brain power’. You will also, surprisingly, get more accomplished in your work day.
Your time is limited. You only have 168 hours in a week. How will you spend them?