Time management is probably one of the most important skills that any business owner can have. It is the one commodity that you can’t buy more of, no matter how much money you have to spend. We all get 24 hours in a day but there are some who seem to utilize those hours more effectively than most. Here are some tricks and suggestions for managing your time more effectively.
List Your Distractions
If you are like me, the first thing that seems better than what I’m currently working on causes me to lose my focus. Whether that’s checking email, your social media accounts or some other distraction, it’s important to understand what derails you so that you can plan around them and not let them get the best of you.
Let It Go or Schedule It
You have to decide: Do I need this? If so, schedule it but if not, you have to let it go. Give yourself a reward for sticking to your plan and make yourself give it up if you don’t follow the plan. There are so many time-suckers in a given day that if you don’t keep track, you’ll end up scratching your head at the end of the day wondering what you did.
Batch Your Tasks
Group what you need to do into related categories. If you have a bunch of phone calls to make, do them all at once. When you are “in the groove” you’ll actually be more effective if you stay within the category, rather than jumping around all over the place. If you have errands to run, do them all together. Get in the zone and move on once you complete the category.
Complete The Most Important Tasks In The Morning
All of us are familiar with getting side-tracked and loosing part or all of our day. Time management guru, Brian Tracy compares our most difficult tasks as “frogs.” The more difficult the task, the uglier the frog. His advice: “If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.” This is another way of saying that, if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else. If you haven’t read Brian’s book, “Eat That Frog,” I highly recommend it.
Use Critical Focus Time (CFT)
This is a time management technique that teaches you to choose a period of time (I choose 45 minutes) and turn off all distractions…cell phone, email…and work exclusively on the big task of the day. After the initial time period, take a 10 minute break. If you still haven’t finished, do another CFT and keep going until you finish. I’ve discussed this before in my blog, “Are You Effective At Time Management.” This method is very effective for keeping you on track.
I often need to follow my own advice, as I fall of the the procrastination wagon on a regular basis. It’s normal to do that from time to time but learning your own procrastination triggers and what works for you is essential if you want to be able to get things done.
Stick with it! The more you practice the better you’ll get and in no time, you’ll see your productivity skyrocket.