Strategies to Manage Time in Business
[Time to read: 9 minutes]
Time – it’s something that’s equal for every person on the planet.
How is it that some people seem to get more done with their time, while others never get through their to-do list, they’re stressed, and they’re constantly trying to catch-up?!
If you struggle to get through your to-do list, run around in circles, have difficulty completing tasks on time, and after a hard day’s work, still arrive home late, then you’re probably familiar with the frustration this can cause.
For many people, this frustration can lead to overwhelming stress and the problems continue to get worse.
So how can you manage your time more effectively when running your Business?
Well, in this article I’m going to share 11 surprisingly easy time-management strategies to help you manage your time more effectively in your Business.
Feel free to watch the video or continue to read below:
No 1. – Create a NOT To Do List
Many people have a to do list, but not many have a not-to-do list.
The not-to-do list is a list of activities that you should not be doing. Perhaps there are activities that you find yourself doing without realising, which do not serve you. For example, I had a habit of regularly checking my smart phone for social media updates. When I realised this, I found that I had been wasting so many hours checking social media! Hours that I could have put to better use!
Creating a Not to do list is a concept that I heard about on a webinar recently.
Your ‘Not to do list’ could also be expanded to include specific negative feelings, thoughts, or emotions that you no longer want to spend time on. Spend a few minutes thinking about last week and write down anything that you felt was a distraction or a waste of time. Once you’ve written your list, pin it up somewhere you can see it, perhaps on the fridge or mirror. It will serve as a constant reminder to help you to focus your time on the activities, tasks, thoughts and emotions most important to you.
No. 2 – What Distracts You?
Well in my case, as I just mentioned my smart phone was a distraction for me.
Smart phones and tablets can provide us with huge benefits when running a business, but they can also be huge distractions. Alerts can chime, pop-ups can appear and notifications buzz.
If you’re finding that your smart phone or tablet is distracting you, try adjusting the application settings so that you will need to launch the application for you to receive the notifications. Then you could decide on specific times during the day to check your phone or tablet. I’ll talk about this more in the next strategy.
In your case however, the distraction may not be your smart phone – it could be your environment? Perhaps you’re working from home and the TV or radio distracts you or perhaps you’re working in your office and you’re working on an important task and people talking in the office are distracting you.
If this is causing you a problem, then try to work in a different place in the home or office, at least while you are working on the important task. This will help you to create a better environment for you to focus your valuable time and energy.
No. 3 – Less Social Media
I use an iPhone and each week it sends me a report on how often I use my phone and what applications I am using. It was an eye-opener for me to realise how many hours I had been spending on social media!
Since then I’ve tried to limit my social media time. If like me, you struggle with how much time you spend on social media – Try to limit this to perhaps two or three times a day.
No. 4 – One Thing At a Time
You may like to multi-task, but your brain doesn’t. We’ve all tried it: texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, jumping from one task to another. Today, doing just one thing at a time is often seen as slow.
However, studies estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. Multi-tasking can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involves a lot of critical thinking. So, avoid multi-tasking and be more productive by working on and completing one thing at a time!
No. 5 – Avoid Perfection
I’ve struggled with this one. I’ve gone from one extreme to another, where rather than not focusing enough time on a task, I’ve spent way too much time on it.
I remember creating a report where in hindsight a ‘good enough’ level of quality would have been acceptable. However, I wasted hours trying to create a ‘perfect’ report. This strategy is about balancing your skills and resources in the time you have.
If you find yourself wasting time by trying to get a perfect result with your task, try re-evaluating the actual requirements you have been given to see if what you’ve done already is good enough. Another option would be to talk to a colleague to see if they can either give you help with the task or let you know if your work on the task so far is good enough.
No. 6 – Important vs. Urgent
Ever found yourself working on urgent tasks and you got to the end of the day and realised that you’d missed the important tasks that you should have been working on?
Focusing your time on the important things in your Business rather than just the urgent things can help you to spend your time more wisely. There are always urgent tasks to get done – but are they truly important?
It can help to evaluate if what you must do is important as well as urgent, simply ask yourself:
“Is this task important or is it just urgent?”
No. 7 – Prioritise Your Tasks
Greg McKeown tells us in his book ‘Essentialism’ that the word ‘priority’ came into the English language in the 1400s and that this word was singular – it meant one thing – THE PRIORITY (the most important thing). It stayed singular for about 500 years. Then in the 1900s, during the Industrial Revolution, it was pluralised and the concept of having multiple ‘priorities’ was born. I remember being in a customer meeting where one of the items on the agenda was to discuss the company’s 10 priorities!
So, if you’re struggling to prioritise your tasks, try ranking them in order of importance and urgency using the exercise from previous strategy and work your way down your priority list.
This will help you to focus your time on the important tasks which are most urgent first.
No. 8 – Schedule Your Week Ahead and Block Your Calendar
Blocking time slots in your calendar for the week ahead to work on the tasks you have prioritised on your to-do list will help to ensure you have the time to focus on your tasks.
But what should you do if you get unexpected meeting requests during your working week?
Well, try reserving some free time slots in your calendar to accommodate these meeting requests.
It can be difficult when unexpected requests come your way, however setting aside some free time slots each week can provide you with some flexibility with your availability for the week ahead.
If you don’t use this free time, then you can decide which of the tasks on your priority list to focus on.
So, why not plan for the unexpected and schedule time in your calendar at the beginning of each week.
No. 9 – Say ‘No’ more often
In Business you may receive many requests to take on extra tasks. For example, you may get asked to attend a meeting that you really don’t need to attend.
We can be inclined to immediately say ‘yes’ and commit to these requests, out of politeness.
However, in these situations it’s important to remember that when we say ‘yes’ to something, our to-do list just gets longer.
If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ too often then try to evaluate the request before committing, by asking yourself: “Is this request important?”
If you’re caught ‘on the hop’, you could reply “Sounds interesting, can I get back to you on that?”.
Then you’ll have time to evaluate the request and respond accordingly.
If you need to decline the request, then of course you can do so in a polite way.
No. 10 – The Pomodoro Technique
I used to get side-tracked with some of my larger tasks until I started using this technique.
The Pomodoro technique was originally developed in the 1980s. The concept behind this technique is to break your time down into 25 minutes blocks by using a timer with an alarm. Once the alarm sounds, take a 5-minute break. Then reset the timer and start a new cycle of work.
If you find yourself ‘running out of steam’ when spending hours working on a large project or task, try breaking your time down into short blocks and then take breaks. You can of course play around with the length of the blocks and breaks to find out what works best for you.
No. 11 – Use the 4 D’s of Effective Time Management
So, this is the last strategy and it happens to be my favourite!
This has helped me so many times over the years to quickly run through my to-do list and resolve what to do with each of my tasks.
The 4 D’s of effective Time Management will help you to evaluate the importance and urgency of each of your tasks and decide what to do with each of them.
So, grab your to-do list and for each task decide to do one of the following:
- DO IT – if the task is both important and urgent – do it.
- DELETE IT – if it’s not important or urgent then consider declining or cancelling the task.
- DEFER IT – if it’s important but not urgent, consider deferring the task to a later date.
- DELEGATE IT – if you are still left with too many tasks, consider delegating the task to someone else if possible.
The decision on some of the tasks may need to be made by someone else in the business – if this is the case, ask them for assistance.
For more information on the 4 D’s CLICK HERE to read the Forbes article.
So, there we are, 11 strategies to help you manage your time more effectively in your Business:
- Create a NOT to do list
- What Distracts You?
- Less Social Media
- One thing at a time
- Avoid perfection
- Important vs. Urgent
- Prioritise your tasks
- Schedule your week ahead and block your calendar
- Say ‘No’ more often
- The Pomodoro Technique
- Use the 4 D’s of Effective Time Management
You only have so many hours in the day, so why not make full use of that time you have and decide intentionally and purposefully how to spend your time.
Many of the techniques I have shared in this article focus on helping you to ‘create’ more time by removing the obstacles that are consuming your time.
Being your own Time ‘gate-keeper’ will help you to use your time more effectively.
Perhaps, try using some of these strategies and find out which ones work best for you.
If you have other Time Management strategies that you find effective, let me know in the comments.
In the end, it’s all about balance and learning that some days will go better than others, but having a framework to help you manage your time more effectively will help you avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control.
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