“Ti-i-i-ime is on my side, yes it is!”
As an entrepreneur, time management can be a huge challenge. You wear so many hats: sales professional, problem-solver, project manager, motivator, organizer, bookkeeper, and decision-maker. And, if you aren’t paying attention, time evaporates and leaves you with no time for family and relaxation, which is some of the most important time of all!
The key to time management is to be proactive, not reactive. If you plan ahead and are realistic in your planning, you can make it all happen, painlessly. Here are some simple tips to make efficient time management happen for you:
1) Make a list
Keep a list of what you need to accomplish. Choose the top six things to do today (I put them on a 3″ x 5″ card and keep them on my desk in front of me). Do the hardest and most productive one first. This can provide you with a great sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated to finish those smaller tasks.
Lists can be setup:
- in a Word document
- using an app on your smart phone or tablet (we like Remember the Milk)
- on a piece of white, lined paper
2) Touch something only once
This is a tough one: if you touch it, take action on it. If you can’t do it right away, put it in a file and schedule it on your calendar when you can get to it.
3) Use descriptive subject lines on your emails
You know how it goes…you write an email and someone replies to it. Then you respond back and they respond to your response and the next thing you know, there are loads of emails bouncing back and forth and the actual subject has completely changed (probably a few times).
Simple solution is to keep the subject applicable to the information. It will make it much easier to go back and find the information as the conversation changed.
4) Set time limits for tasks
In addition to choosing your top six projects to work on, you need to schedule time for necessary things like checking emails and marketing your business.
Set a time limit. Don’t be afraid to use a timer or an alarm if necessary. It may sound silly, but if you start checking and updating your company Facebook page and then find yourself drifting off and checking what your friend had to say on a subject or reading a good article, time can just fly by and you still haven’t achieved what you set out to do.
Schedule a finite amount of time for email, social media, etc. and when that timer goes off, move on to the next task.
5) Eliminate clutter
Your desk should not be a catch-all place for every scrap of paper or business card. All those sticky notes are shouting out and distracting you each time you look up and see them.
Have your desk clear and clean when you start your day. And make it a habit to work on one thing at a time. As you work, take out the client file, work on it, and then put it away. Be sure to leave your desk clean and orderly for the following day. You’ll be surprised at how it helps de-clutter your head, too.
6) Schedule time off
When you’re scheduling, don’t forget to schedule some time off. Try to take at least one full day off (just a reminder – that’s a full 24 hours!). Be sure you don’t do any work – no checking emails or doing small things just to get them off your list. Because your work is not M-F 9 to 5, you may need to schedule that for a Tuesday or Wednesday. You may even need to wait until Monday to schedule it depending on how busy you are.
On your day off, plan some fun. Take the kids to the beach, clean up the yard, go to the gym, head out to dinner with some friends, stay home and read a book, do whatever you enjoy. When your next working day comes around, you will feed refreshed and ready to go.
With a little planning and a lot of discipline, you can accomplish your goals.
Then you’ll find that time is on your side…yes it is!