We live in a fast paced world, and as a professional, you know how precious time is, particularly when it comes to running a business.
Running a business can mean never having enough time to tackle all the tasks and cross off all the items on your seemingly endless to-do list, which is why time management skills really need to be on point in order to be successful and maintain work-life balance.
We put together a list of things to pay attention to in order to master your time management:
Set goals – it’s essential to any good time management strategy.
To make sure you’re engaging in activities that support your business goals, both short- and long-term, you need to define those goals in terms that are clear and attainable. After all, if your goal is to just “to grow your business,” you might find yourself overwhelmed and not know where to begin.
To counteract this paralysis, many companies find that the SMART goals methodology helps keep them on task and on track. Standing for “Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound,” SMART goals provide clear, step-by-step tasks to help you get where you need to go.
For example, a SMART goal might be: “Increase traffic to my website from 1,000 to 5,000 unique monthly visitors in the next six months.” When broken down, we can see that this is, indeed, a SMART goal:
Specific: The goal states exactly what needs to be attained.
Measurable: The goal can be measured with a specific tool, in this case, Google Analytics.
Attainable: Rather than vaguely wishing to increase visitors — or setting a goal too high to reach — this goal states a specific number that is well within the realm of possibility but still ambitious.
Relevant: Instead of measuring something like site sessions or overall site visitors, the goal is to reach potential new customers — always crucial when growing a small business.
Time-bound: There is a due date set at the end of six months to attain this goal.
Once you’ve set your SMART goals, you can work backward to determine the individual steps you’ll need to achieve your goals. Everything else is a potential time-waster. Your daily plan should revolve around working on tasks and activities that directly relate to growing your business and generating revenue.
While planning does require spending some time – jumping into your workday without a clear picture of what needs to get done will cost you much more time and effort.
Dedicate five to ten minutes to think ahead and plan out your day. This will allow you to focus on one task at a time, work smarter and not harder, and actually complete more tasks than if you were to randomly jump from one project to another.
How you go about planning will depend on your personality. You can choose to plan at the end of the day by taking some time to clear your desk and put together a list of the next day’s most pressing tasks – this is also a great way to de-clutter and decompress and create a more peaceful environment to start your work day in the morning.
Or, you may choose to plan first thing in the morning – arrive at your office a few minutes early and make your prioritized to-do list – setting the scene for a productive and organized day.
Once you’ve set your goals, hand in hand with planning is prioritizing the individual tasks needed to achieve.
Start by collecting a list of all your tasks you could possibly consider getting done in a day. The next step is to identify any tasks that need your immediate attention – what’s urgent vs. important. Mark tasks that, if not completed within that day would potentially have serious negative consequences, such as missed release deadlines, missed client deadline; missed late payment, etc.
Next, consider tasks that hold the highest value to your business; for example, client projects vs. internal work. To assess value, look at how many people are impacted by your work – the more people involved or impacted, the higher the stakes, making those tasks your immediate priority.
Next step is to think about estimated effort, and tackle the tasks that you think will take the most effort to complete. In his book “Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time”, Brian Tracy names this time management technique “Eat that Frog”. This means do the extremely important, worst or lengthiest task first thing in the morning, before all other tasks, so that you are the most productive and feel better about the rest of your day.
For some people, it’s difficult to focus on weightier projects before they finish up the shorter, smaller tasks; if this is you, go with your gut and do that – it may motivate you to check a small task off the list before diving into bigger waters.
Whatever your style of prioritizing, staying focused on the tasks you’re committed to completing while staying flexible is key, knowing that your priorities may have to change, often very unexpectedly.
Finally, know when to call it a day. As you prioritize your tasks and identify the urgent and the important ones, take a closer analysis and determine which ones can be postponed to a later date if necessary. Mark these tasks for another day or delegate if possible.
As you complete each task, check it off your list – this will give you a sense of accomplishment and a boost of motivation to move down the list.
How many times has your work been interrupted, either by someone else, or by your own stopping and “scrolling’? Start paying attention to where the distractions are coming from; including self-induced interruptions, and which ones can be avoided.
For instance, having your smart phone next to you can be a huge distraction, especially if you receive all the notifications, including social media ones. In today’s digital era, smart devices are extremely useful, and can also be highly addictive and one of the most crafty time-wasters.
Perhaps you choose to shut the door so others do not interrupt you as easily; turn off your phone to maximize your time, setting aside a break in the day to talk with staff (or family), catch up on email, texts, phone calls, etc.
Many of us are guilty of not knowing how and when to say no, but declining a request in order to tend to what’s more important and urgent is a powerful way to manage your time. Instead of spending time on projects or activities that are not beneficial for your work or your wellbeing, focus your awareness on more productive tasks and fulfilling activities.
Running a successful business depends on the owner’s ability to plan, prioritize, and delegate.
Look for opportunities to delegate specific tasks to others on your team with clear directions and realistic expectations – it is a powerful management tool and will allow you to have more time to focus on the tasks that only you can do.
This is an extremely effective tool to help you measure exactly how much time a single task takes you.
You can use a simple timesheet tracker to quickly and easily clock in and out of various tasks or projects throughout the day, or opt for TSheets mobile or desktop app, which allows you to track and switch jobs or tasks with just one click. Follow up with generating robust, real-time reports to see exactly how you’re spending, and wasting time – your most valuable asset.
In the hustle and bustle of running a successful business, we often forgot the importance of taking care of ourselves – from getting plenty of sleep and exercising to other ways of self-care, all essential to maintaining an upward growth trajectory.
A Harvard study found that insomnia could cause the average worker to lose up to 11.3 days of productivity each year. Another study shows that regular exercise helps improve concentration, sharpen memory, speed up your ability to learn, and even lower your stress levels.
Equally important is setting some time each day to spend with the people you love and doing things that enjoy outside of your business.
At RODA marketing, an online marketing company that nurtures passion, experience, and proficiency, we work together with you to build and implement well thought out Internet Marketing strategies that include SEO, social media, blogging, infographics and more, that will deliver value and results to your business – and help you have more time to focus on doing things that bring you value and joy.