Time Management for Your Business Success
Time management is absolutely essential for every business owner. If you manage your time well, you’ll work more efficiently, get more done, and have more free time for planning or other non-work tasks. You can essentially get extra hours out of each day.
There are many approaches to time management, but the key is that you’re taking control of how you spend your time. Through proper time management, you can better juggle multiple tasks and determine realistically when tasks will be done.
Perform a Time Audit
Before you start getting into time management, it’s a good idea to take a time audit. This means monitoring how you spend your time so that you have a realistic picture of where all the time goes. Log your working time and keep track of activities and how long they take over a period of about two weeks, and then you have objective data on how you actually spend your time.
You can create a time management plan without performing a time audit, which requires some time and work. But most people who do a time audit find some little surprises in their data, and many can find something to do right away to save more time.
If you know how long certain tasks take, you know how much time you need each day for your work. You can then create a time budget, where you schedule each daily activity and set aside the right amount of time for it.
For example, you might decide to start the day with 15 minutes for email, and then work on your main project for two hours. After a break, network on social media for a half an hour, and then spend one hour conducting market research.
This detailed schedule allows you to spend the time needed on each task in an organized, methodical way. To make sure you have the time you need, you can pad your budget, allowing a bit more time for each task than you think it will actually take.
Time boxing involves creating a “box” for each task that you spend time on each day. This is a great technique for people who are managing multiple projects at once.
A basic time boxing approach would be to start with an hour of work on the most pressing project or the one with the nearest deadline. Then, spend your next hour on the second most important project. You move through each project and then start again with the first.
There are many ways to use time boxing and this is just one. You can make your boxes larger or smaller; you can have 30-minute boxes or 2-hour boxes. You can mix up box sizes depending on the nature of the work; for example, an hour on each work project, thirty minutes on communication tasks like email or social media.
Time boxing allows you to make steady progress on multiple jobs at one time. When a deadline approaches, you might have to work more to finish, but it won’t be overwhelming.
The Important-Urgent Matrix
Most time management techniques involve ordering tasks in terms of priorities. You work on the highest priority items first. The problem with this is that some items are important but not urgent. In other words, there is no time element; however, the item is no less important. The Important-Urgent Matrix, which Stephen Covey popularized in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, tackles this problem.
First, you draw a 2×2 grid. This gives you four quadrants, which are for:
- Urgent and important tasks
- Urgent but not important tasks
- Not urgent but important tasks
- Not urgent or important tasks
Some tasks, such as answering phone calls, are urgent but not necessarily important. A task like planning next year’s marketing strategy is extremely important, but not urgent. By creating a visual representation like this of the things you have to do, you can better see which tasks deserve a priority which may not be urgent.
Eat That Frog
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Hopefully no one takes this advice literally, but one motivational speaker named Brian Tracy turned the idea into a time management technique called Eat That Frog.
The idea is that you should schedule the most difficult or unpleasant task as your first item of the day. Take the thing you’ve been dreading and do it first to get it out of the way. Then, the rest of your day will go much more smoothly.
This is actually a technique to cut down on procrastination, which is a time efficiency killer. When you’re dreading a task later in the day, you might waste time on other or unnecessary tasks.
Time Management Tips
Aside from the techniques mentioned above, there are some easy habits to get into that can help you save time as you go about your work.
- Minimize Meetings. Meetings can be a huge time waster. Only hold meetings when you absolutely have to and keep them focused on a tight agenda. Wrap up meetings early if the agenda is finished.
- Escape Communications. When you’re hard at work and need to limit distractions, turn off all social media or email notifications. You can check when you’re done.
- Learn to Say No. Whenever someone asks you to do something, assess whether you have the time to take it on. Learn how to say no to tasks you don’t have time for, or give the person asking a time when you could realistically handle it.
- Delegate and Automate. Find tasks that you can get off your to-do list through either automation or delegation. Use software tools to automate routine tasks. Consider asking someone else to handle tasks that are bogging you down and that someone else could do.
- Take Regular Breaks. No matter how busy you are, take regular breaks to recharge. This will prevent you from burning out and you’ll actually be able to work longer.
- Schedule Fun. Schedule fun things as well as work to make sure you maintain an even work-life balance.
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Thank you for visiting our website, we hope to see you again!Mike Conkey