Developing effective time management strategies and skill is one of the most essential capabilities for business and life.
If you don’t manage time effectively, you will become constantly distracted.
This may stop you from achieving the goals that are crucially important to you.
Why? Because you are wasting time on low value activities.
When you develop the right time management strategies you can free up your time to focus on the projects that will move you towards your goals.
What is time management?
Time management is simply leveraging time you have to produce the maximum result you want to achieve.
Having a clear time management strategy is about enabling yourself and your team to always be looking to achieve a specific result in less time.
Why are time management skills important?
To maximise your productivity, it is important to know how to manage time.
There are some people who can achieve huge amounts in the time they have, while others struggle to stay focused and are distracted by low value work and other interruptions.
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Importance of time management skills for small business owners
People with excellent time management skills have:
- Understood that they can’t do everything
- Clearly identified their goals
- Have a clear path and plan to reach those goals
- Understand what they do best and can produce the biggest results
- Spend more time doing that work
Effective time management improves productivity
Some other important time management skills include:
- Staying focused and organised
- Being intentional about their priorities
- Focused on progress not perfection
- Always achieving something
How to improve your time management strategy
Time management can be a difficult thing to take control of. Many of us are looking for time management strategies to help us achieve bigger results in less time.
How you manage time is simply about removing the distractions and stuff that take up lots of time and doesn’t move you forward and replacing that activity with high value, productive work that makes a real impact.
There is no either or list. There is just one list.
The simplest time management strategy is about always asking yourself “Does the activity I want to do make the best use of my time?”
This is time management at it’s simplest.
Essential time management for entrepreneurs
There is just one time management strategy to follow, based on absolute clarity about what matters to you in respect of your health, your life, your relationships and your business.
If you don’t have this alignment in your life, the next question is – Is there anything I can do about it?
The good news is there is.
If we all have 24 hours in a day, what time management strategies can we use to be most effective based on our higher purpose?
How can we manage time to live a more joyful, purpose driven life, so we work on the things we know are important, whilst taking action on our urgent responsibilities?
5 time management strategies that work
In my experience, there are five time management strategies that actually get results in real life.
They are each part of a simple time management strategy focused on achieving results, not time and effort invested.
If you take action on each of them, it will improve your time management skills, your life, your health, your happiness and your productivity.
Take a look at each of these time management techniques and see how you can use them to start managing your time more effectively:
1. Take a time audit
Do you have clarity on where you’re spending your time each day?
What projects you’re working on?
How many meetings you’re having?
What time you are spending on social media or answering emails?
How much time are you using on high value activities that moves you closer to your goals? To your true purpose?
Are you dedicating time to serve your clients? To value creation? To building wealth in your business?
Use this simple time management strategy example below:
How to do a time audit
- Get a blank piece of paper and draw three lines down the page
- The First Column is for your ‘High Value Work’
- Column Two is for your ‘Good Work’
- The Third column is for ‘Low Value Work
Then write down the amount of time you’re spending in each of these time areas and the activity you’re doing.
This is usually an eye opening experience.
How to analyse your time
Once you’ve completed the analysis, ask yourself, is this where you want to be spending your time?
If it’s not create a measurable goal to change it today.
Ask yourself how can you eliminate some activities that take up lots of time but don’t move your business forward and expand the time in the areas that create the biggest impact.
2. Free up time, cut out low value activities
To improve your time management skills it helps to spend more time doing high value work.
It also becomes equally important to have a ‘Not To Do List’ as creating a powerful list of activities and people that you want to focus your time on.
To manage time more effectively, look at your ‘Good Work’ list and ‘Low Value Work’ list.
Now become a warrior to your own time and start carving out the distractions and work you don’t want to be doing.
Stop drifting from your purpose and getting caught up in small work and other people’s problems.
It’s really easy to spread ourselves paper thin.
To have our attention shift from what we should be doing and what we think we should do.
Work smarter, not harder
In a typical day we’re trying to balance the real work that brings us joy and moves us towards our ideal future with the need for messages, emails, social media updates, to-do lists.
Some of the good work will be important but are you the best person to do this?
Can it be outsourced or delegated so your time is focused on creating, serving and achieving?
The best time management strategies are the ones that help you identify clearly where you can leverage your time most effectively.
3. Start time blocking
The best way I’ve found to overcome it is to outsource the things I don’t want to do, block out significant time to focus on the most important projects and go deep on learning the techniques that will help me reach my goals.
I carve out half a day, or sometimes a full day, to focus on key projects in my business with no distractions whatsoever.
To ensure I don’t drift I take regular recuperative breaks.
How much more could you achieve if you did the work you needed to do, the way you needed to do it, and eliminated or outsourced the work you really don’t want to do?
4. Do the most important thing first
This is key to your time management strategy.
Start your day by asking yourself: “What’s the Number One thing I absolutely have to achieve today?”
Once you are clear on that, and you commit to achieving that thing, chances are you WILL actually do the work.
This time management skill will stop the disorder, distractions and chaos from impacting on your day.
The reason. You have made a conscious decision at the start of the day, when your willpower is strong.
Have you noticed that as the day wears on you have less and less willpower and energy to focus? So, do the most important thing or things first.
If I have set up calls with a potential client, I do this in the morning. If I have an important article to write, I again do this in the morning.
Whatever, your most important thing is, if you do that thing first, then you’ll never have a day when you didn’t get something important done.
By following this simple time management strategy, you will usually end up having a very productive day.
5. Reduce the workload, but stick to your plan
You can only complete a small number of big projects or tasks in a day.
When you are clear on the work you are doing, the outcome you want to deliver and the action plan to achieve it then you must decide how important it is and when you deliver it by.
Rather than give yourself 10 things to work on scale that back to the 5 most important ones.
Focus your time on your most important activities
Create a step by step process for each project and create your own schedule to complete the work.
For example, let’s say your most important activity for the day was to write a sales letter.
You know this work would make a massive difference in how you market your business.
But, during the day you had lots of other queries and problems come up that had to be dealt with.
You are only left with an hour to work on the sales letter rather than the three hours you’ve assigned to it.
Manage time effectively
So, what do you do?
Option One is to decide that you don’t actually have enough time to complete it so you’ll put it off to another day.
Option Two is to reduce the initial scope of the project. You know the sales letter was important. So, you spend an hour laying out the framework and content ideas for the sale letter.
You’ve still achieved something important and have stuck to your original plan to work on the sales letter that day. given at this point, you have two options.
In my experience, the most effective time management strategies are simple, but effective.
How to use these time management strategies
Time is our most precious resource so it’s essential to not only create your own time management strategies, but to create effective time management strategies.
Mastering time management is the difference between being busy and being productive, and what separates those still struggling to achieve what they want and those who produce the biggest results.
To truly make the most of your time, you need to develop time management skills that take into account your goals and what it is you truly want in life and work toward it.
Now it’s over to you.
Which time management strategy will you take action on?
Have I missed a time management strategy that has worked well for you?
Either way, let me know in the comments.
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