Too much to do and not enough time. It’s a common complaint among business owners, but it’s something you can manage when you take control of your time. With a little discipline and a desire to change, you can improve time management skills — and get more done each day.
There’s no quick fix or silver bullet to improve your skills overnight. But little changes done consistently will put you on the right path. It’s a skill worth perfecting because it delivers some great rewards. More productivity. More time to relax. Less stress from missed deadlines. And when you own a business, more money!
If you want to take control of your time and get more done, then let’s create some good habits. By definition, a habit is a behavior or action regularly followed until it becomes almost automatic.
Here are a few that can make a difference when it comes to managing your time.
Set Goals to Stay Focused
No surprise here. Setting goals and reviewing them daily is one of the best habits you can develop for your business and personal success. Clear goals keep you focused on what’s important. They help you prioritize how you spend your time.
Without goals, everything appears important. How will you decide what to work on now, what to work on later or most important, what you should not work on at all?
The key to building goal setting habits is to keep it simple. Write down five or six goals for the next 12 months. Remember to apply the SMART principle – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic (to you) and time-specific.
Next, for each goal you establish, identify 3-4 tasks you need to DO to achieve it. Refrain from listing too many tasks or tactics. It makes it easier to focus, take action and stay on track. Goals without action are simply wishes or dreams.
Finally, review your goals daily and use them as you prioritize your days, weeks and months. Invest more time on the activities that move you toward your goals. Learn to ask yourself – Is doing this moving me toward my goals?
Need help? Check out my Ultimate Goals & Action Planning Guide.
Planning With To Do List.
Routine tasks, those you do daily, likely get done without a reminder. You rarely think about them. They are almost automatic. Meetings you schedule are also likely to happen because they are on your calendar – hopefully.
But what about commitments you make to others? Or unplanned customer or team issues? Or new ideas and strategies for growth that float into your head? Or tasks you identified to support your goals? Or tasks that are important but only need your attention periodically?
As a business owner, you are likely inundated with these things on a daily basis. While most do not require immediate action, they do need action at some point. So you need to capture them easily in one place or they will be forgotten (we are human).
Fortunately, smartphones are a great tool for creating your to-do list. It’s with you most of the time and there are applications to make it easy. While I use Google Task Organizer, Evernote and Wunderlist are also popular apps. Check them out and find one that works for you!
While making a to-do list is important, scheduling time on your calendar to actually work on the tasks is critical. On a weekly basis, review the list and identify the priorities for the coming week. Which tasks do you need to complete or work on? Then block time off on your calendar to work on them.
When it comes to blocking and scheduling your time, keep the following in mind:
– Treat the blocks like appointments – sacred and not to be arbitrarily canceled. If the tasks are important to you and your business, treat them that way.
– Be realistic. Most tasks take longer than we expect and some require smaller blocks over a few days. Don’t over-schedule. You’ll feel better and stay on track.
Plan for Fun.
Growing up, my dad was a planner. Vacations, family outings, ‘big’ dinners and parties were planned in advance. While we always laughed about it, one day he told me something I never forgot. When you work hard all week, you’ll be a lot more productive when you have things that you look forward to. Think of these as rewards.
He was right. Think about the last time you went on vacation. How much more did you get done the week before simply because you were going away? Whether it’s dinner with your family, a round of golf with friends, trips to the local gym to work out or anything else you enjoy, schedule them so you too have things to look forward to daily, weekly and monthly. It helps my productivity and it may just help yours!
Take Control of Your Time
People skilled in time management stand to gain more from everyday life. And you can conquer it if you take it one step at a time. Try building these habits into your routine. You will feel more in control and your productivity will soar!
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