Many business owners will have spent the latter part of 2017 pondering on the changes and improvements they would like to make in their businesses during 2018.
The ending of one year and the start of another makes us consider new beginnings. We create new plans, make new year resolutions and set out with good intentions to do things like go to the gym every week, eat more vegetables, meditate daily, stop biting our nails, and the biggie, improve our time management. Achieving more in less time is the goal. These eight great time management tips will help you achieve that goal.
A plan goes a long way toward the achievement of more in less time. Yes, it takes time to plan things. But it takes up less time than the alternative; flapping about like a wet hen, being reactive rather than proactive and not being quite sure whether the task you are engaged in will actually move you toward your overall goal.
Set time limits on tasks
It is very helpful to set a time limit on tasks and to stick to them. If you start noting time limits next to the tasks that are on your To Do list, you can easily see whether you’ve allowed enough time to complete everything. If you can’t complete all the tasks then move the least important tasks to another day. Aim for a realistic number of tasks, and realistic timings, on your list. You will find you feel more in control of your time management if you are completing tasks regularly.
Prioritise your tasks
The golden rule of prioritising tasks is to ask yourself “Is this task the very best use of my time right now? “
Urgent and important tasks should be done first.
Less urgent but important tasks get done next.
Less important tasks which are urgent come third.
Non-urgent and less important tasks get done last or noted and moved to another day.
I don’t just mean external deadlines either. It is useful to set yourself deadlines for tasks because if you don’t then there is no feeling of urgency, and the task just gets moved down the list and never gets tackled. This is another reason why setting time limits on tasks is a good idea.
Goals and Outcomes
All tasks should contribute to a larger goal or outcome, moving you nearer to achieving it. If the task does not do this, or you are unsure which goal the task applies to, then it is worth examining whether or not the task really does need to be done at the current time. If you feel it is a goal for the future then note it down in a central location so that you can easily find it. I will be talking more about this in future blog posts.
Regularly review your plan, to do list and progress. Your plan is a road map to your destination. It is tempting to look at your plan and see the things you have not yet done. However, it is important to take the time to look at the things that you DID achieve and celebrate that progress. I learned this one the hard way I must admit, and it is only recently that I have started to look back at my list for the week and really see the things I’ve done rather than the things that have not been done. Celebrating the successes makes you realise that you have achieved more than you thought.
Don’t book tasks back to back
Remember to leave time between tasks to have a break. A break can make you more productive. Those few minutes between tasks are really valuable and a key part of your time management strategy. Your mind needs time to switch between tasks anyway, so you may as well have a cup of tea, chat with a colleague, look out the window, or empty the washing machine, whilst your brain is performing the switch. As I have a dog, I let her out in the garden every couple of hours and will sometimes go out onto the lawn or sit on the step with my coffee for a couple of minutes. A few deep breaths of Yorkshire air allow me to go back to my work refreshed and ready to tackle the next task.
Never overlook the important place which delegation can play in time management. If you delegate a task either partially or completely, you’ve saved yourself time instantly. Ideal tasks to delegate include routine admin, tasks you really dislike and tasks you aren’t that good at. You will instantly see an increase in the amount of time you have available to spend on revenue building, strategy and planning. If you delegate to someone whose hourly rate is less than your own, such as a VA, you will also gain a monetary advantage since the work will cost less than it would if you did it yourself. To find out more about how I could help you to free up more time in your day, please get in touch here.
I hope that these tips will be helpful for you as you plan your business tasks for the new year. But remember, it takes a while to learn a new habit properly. Something simple, such a remembering to drink more water, might take about 21 days to become fully embedded in your life. However, complex habits which involve a need to override years of conditioning and routine can take longer to master.
It can be tempting to try to change lots of things at once, particularly at the start of a new year. However, this can be confusing and may lead to failure and frustration. It is much better to choose one of these tips, the one that resonates the most with you and which you really think you can get to grips with, and concentrate on that one change. If you can really embed the change into your daily routine before choosing the second change to tackle then you are likely to be more successful.