“Time is Money” – Benjamin Franklin
“Time = Life, Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.” -Thomas Jefferson
As a business owner, your most valuable asset and the one that most people complain to have too little of is … TIME. But business owners and professionals who master the skill of managing their time well are without a doubt, the most successful and most envied by their competitors.
“How do you get so much done? How do you find the time to keep up with it all? Have you cloned yourself? Do you sleep?” – These may be questions you often ask your friends or colleagues because you cannot fathom how others get so much more done in the same twenty-four hours we are all allotted. It’s true that everyone has the same amount of time on the clock, but it’s the skill of using it to your advantage is what separates the haves and have-nots.
“43% of Americans categorize themselves as disorganized, and 21% have missed vital work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least 2 or more times each week.”
As a business owner, we often wear many hats at once. So how do we manage our time to accomplish our daily tasks and still find the quiet moments for creativity and innovation?
Time Management Tips that Work
- Plan ahead. Carry a schedule or planner to record your thoughts, ideas, daily goals, appointments, and to-do list, whether it be on your pc, smartphone, or traditional paper. Take 15-30 minutes at the beginning or the end of the previous day to plan your day’s schedule. Don’t get discouraged if all your plans for the day did not come to fruition. Learn to be flexible and adjust to the regular mishaps of life and running a business; and remember, there’s always tomorrow.
- Find ways to block distractions. Silence your phone, put up a “Do not Disturb” sign on your door, turn off Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or whatever social media addiction you suffer from these days. When you have tasks on your schedule that require your focus and full attention, they will get done more efficiently and effectively without interruptions.
- Prioritize. Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results, aka ‘billable hours’.
- Organize. “Executives waste six weeks per year searching for lost documents,” says one statistic. Cluttered desk tops, lost documents and piles of unread mail can slow you down physically and mentally. One busy real estate broker scans and shreds all his documents as they arrive in his office. “The more folders there are on your desk,” he says, “the less productive you are because you’re looking at all these stacks of things that need to get done.”
- Talk Less, Do More. Meetings are an essential aspect of running a business, but they can be time-wasters if they are redundant, lacking in defined goals, or requiring substantial travel to and fro. Try talking on the phone, online video conferencing, or even an email to communicate the meeting’s agenda instead.
- Schedule ‘Me-Time’. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. Schedule when they will begin and end. Have the discipline to keep these appointments.
- Start early in the day. Get a good’s night sleep, wake early and get down to work. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in the early hours of morning, when you’re most alert, the office is the quietest and there are less distractions.
- Social Media Management. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest can be time wasters but are necessary tools for the business owner these days. Plan 30-45 minutes a day to manage your individual accounts, schedule posts for the day, week or month, or use a social media management system like HootSuite.
- Blog Management. A typical post takes 2-3 hours to research, write, edit and enhance with images/video. You can break this task into several more manageable pieces or schedule a block of time during a slow period of your week. Any investment of time in your blog and your social media will reap valuable benefits: more hits to your site, new leads and eventually new customers.
- Take breaks. That may seem contrary to effective time-management. Short, frequent breaks prevent mental fatique, reduce errors, increase energy and actually increase productivity. Take a short walk outside, have a chat with a friend, or put on your earphones and listen to motivating music. Return to your office refreshed and ready to do great things.