Effective time management is crucial for busy executives, entrepreneurs and business owners. Time is your most valuable resource, therefore improving productivity can free up valuable time enabling you to grow and develop your business.
Technology has helped make business processes cleaner, leaner and more efficient. These should go a long way to helping you to be more productive and feel in control during the working day.
So, what can you do to avoid time management becoming one enormous headache?
Eliminate distractions - aka time stealers
Distractions can be a variety of things such as email or social media notifications, pets, a radio in the background or even an untidy workspace. Every distraction, however small that may be, makes you quickly switch the focus of your attention, and it takes some time to regain productivity.
You may not be able to eliminate every distraction, but if you shut down all browser windows and put your phone on silent, it will help you keep focused on the task you need to get done.
Whether you have your own office or are working at the kitchen table, ensure your working area is tidy. Before you start get all your tools, including a brew or glass of water, within easy reach.
Good time management is when you plan, organise and complete specific tasks.
Identify the tasks that you carry out on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual or ad-hoc basis. Review them individually and identify how much time you need to spend on each one. You may find for larger tasks that splitting them into smaller chunks over a few days is more productive. This process can be time consuming but is very important when organising your day.
If you utilise your diary efficiently, you should not need a separate to-do list, saving that all important and crucial time! If you really do need a separate list, then ensure that this is in one place. Allocate time in your diary for your to-do list, to ensure you get tasks ticked off the list on a daily basis.
First task of the day ... everyday
Look at your diary and to-do list before your inbox and social media. Make sure you complete the urgent tasks before anything else imposes on your valuable time.
One thing at a time
Try and focus on one thing at a time, in the allocated time!
If you are constantly distracted by phone calls or emails then you will never have the time to think or finish the task in hand in the allocated time. If necessary, put the answering machine and email auto reply on.
Once you have completed the task in hand, you can take that well-earned break, check the phone and emails, whilst getting another brew.
Using modern technology for meetings
Probably the most timesaving advancement available to help with diary and time management is technology to facilitate vitual meetings. Conference calls, video calls and virtual meetings can all be set up without the need for travel and hassle, if a face-to-face meeting can be avoided.
Create a meetings reference folder
Modern digital diaries make it much easier to gather and store relevant information and attach it in a digital format. A great tool for effectively managing diaries is to create data files linked to meetings. You can also add website links and other sources of background information. This will enable you to find what you need when you need it.
If you find that there really are not enough hours in the day and you are still burning the candle at both ends, you need to think about delegating or outsourcing. Look to delegate to another team member, colleague or engage with a freelance specialist who can help with the task or project that you keep putting off.
At the end of the day:
- review your diary and ensure that if you have missed a specific task that you either do it right now or reschedule it for first thing tomorrow;
- save and back up all the documents you have been working on and your diary too;
- switch off all your tools and put them on charge; and
- scoop up all the pots and rubbish and leave the workspace tidy and ready for tomorrow’s product day.