As a business owner, you’re likely to be juggling multiple responsibilities, tackling numerous projects at once and always finding things to spend your time on. This makes for one hectic schedule!
You may have been battling with long working hours for years, or you may be finding that new responsibilities are impacting how much time you’re spending on work. Whether you’ve felt as though your time management strategy needs to be improved for a while or you’re just starting to consider how you can positively change your work schedule, now’s the time to act.
Here at CANDESCENT, we strive to support business owners and creatives in all their business-related needs, which is why we’ve curated our top five tips for perfecting your time management.
In this blog post, you’ll see how you can apply the following tips for excellent time management:
- Set a time and stick to it,
- Prioritise tasks in a way that suits you and your business,
- Maximise efficiency, minimise distraction,
- Making the most of the time you have in your day,
- Abandon perfectionism.
Not only will these tips make a difference to your business, but also to your daily schedule, as you’ll be able to find time here and there to focus on both the important aspects of your business and spend a little more time on YOU.
Five tips for better time management
1. Set a time and stick to it:
When you look at your To-Do list, do you think ‘How am I going to fit this all in?’, or ‘I’ll probably have to work longer hours today to be able to manage it all’?
If the answer is yes, you’ll love our first time management tip. Spend time at the start of your day setting time goals: how much time are you going to allow yourself on one particular task? For example, you may allow yourself thirty minutes for replying to emails, at the start of your day, before moving onto another task.
The idea with this tip is to not go over the allotted time. By setting yourself specific time goals throughout your day, you’re holding yourself accountable to specific hours in which you have to make as much progress as you can with the respective task, whilst ensuring you do not let time run away with you. You will hopefully find that, with this method in place, you become more productive, as you know you only have a set amount of time to complete any given task, rather than hours upon hours.
Remember to keep the timetable realistic, so you’re giving yourself the best chance possible of finishing a task in your set time. And, if you don’t finish a task in the time you set yourself, move on and tackle something else and return to the uncompleted task if you have time later on.
Importantly, this method will help you create a solid working schedule with set times, so your work doesn’t spill into the precious ‘down time’ you’ve been craving. Outside of these set hours, shut the laptop, turn off the work phone, take yourself away from work and instead focus on yourself.
2. Prioritise tasks in a way that suits you and your business:
Following the first tip is this advice: schedule your day in terms of priority and importance. When writing your To-Do list, try framing it by putting the tasks that absolutely need to be done at the top, whilst leaving less important tasks to the end of the day.
A task may be important and urgent, whilst another task may be as important but not as urgent. If you’re working to a deadline, get this task out of the way before moving onto a task that you have a longer time frame to work with. If a task is not urgent and relatively unimportant, you could try delegating them or leaving them for another time.
You may decide to adopt a slightly different approach by scheduling tasks depending on demand; that is, starting with the time-intensive tasks and ending with the tasks that take little to no time at all.
Think also about the kind of worker you are. Do you like working in the morning and chilling from the early evening, or do you prefer working later in the day and into the night? You may find scheduling urgent tasks at the times when you feel at your most productive and efficient, whilst leaving tasks that require less concentration to the times you’re not feeling so engaged, will impact the quality of your work.
Overall, there are multiple ways you can think about priority with your workload, and the best way to do so will be dependent on you, your workload and your business. The benefit of prioritizing tasks is the fact it will help you create a schedule that is both productive and – when combined with the first tip – allows you to work at specific times in order to give you more control over when you work.
3. Maximise efficiency, minimise distraction:
Efficiency and distraction are polar opposites, but they also go hand in hand: if you limit the distractions, you’re likely to be much more efficient, whereas opening yourself up to lots of distractions will reduce your overall efficiency level.
As a business owner, it’s so important to ensure you’re being as efficient as you can be. Things like a messy desk, uncharged laptop and even the postman are distractions – they require you to stop what you are doing and instead focus on something else. This subsequently has an impact on your efficiency levels.
Try and prepare yourself in advance of your working day, in order to limit the amount of pre-work tasks you need to do before starting work and letting this spill into your work time (as this will then push your work schedule back further into the day). Make sure your desk is tidy, so you have plenty of space to work with, and ensure you have the stationary and equipment you’ll need to hand so you don’t have to go hunting for it. Starting your day prepared will limit the amount of times you need to get up from work, which will make you much more efficient.
If you work from home, try creating a space that you use for work and work alone. This will help you leave ‘work’ behind at the end of the day as you close the door on this space (literally and metaphorically) and return to your personal life.
Finally, say goodbye to anything that could distract you from work. This might mean putting your phone in another room, turning email notifications off whilst you get on with a task, or reminding those around you that you cannot be disturbed. If you’re in a noisy office, use noise-cancelling headphones, or if you’re at home, put a sign up on the door so everyone knows it’s work time.
4. Making the most of the time you have in the day:
In a busy life, squeezing the most out of the time you have is essential. There will be precious time during your day that you usually spend doing nothing, which you can instead use for productivity.
For example: Do you spend time in a bus or train on your daily commute, the school run or on your way to the gym or evening class? If you have emails to reply to or send, calls to make or voicemails to listen to, why not do this job during the time you spend commuting? These jobs don’t require you to be in your place of work, and if you have strong enough phone service, 4G (or Wi-fi on the train) and enough battery in your phone, you can do these tasks whilst on the way to wherever you’re going. In turn, you are freeing up time spent doing these jobs in another part of your day, so you can use this time for tasks that require you to be in one place or with certain equipment.
5. Abandon perfectionism:
Whilst your compulsion to be perfect is admirable, sometimes it is not always helpful in terms of productivity and time efficiency. Needing a job to be absolutely perfect often means you’ll spend lots more time on it than necessary; this subsequently eats away at your day and means you’re at risk of working for longer.
Rather than returning to tasks to check they’re as perfect as they can be, or spending hours upon hours agonizing over how to make a job even better, put your energy into doing the best job you can whilst ensuring you don’t spend too much time with the task. This way, you’ll be able to stick to your timetable, whilst ensuring a job is done to the best of your ability. You may find that taking the perfection-pressure off will help you manage your time better and allow you to perform the job better too.
Time management is the root of an efficient business and a happy business owner. It’s all about ensuring you have the time to grow your business whilst also giving you the time you need to rest, relax and live. Follow these simple steps, and hopefully you’ll see a huge shift in how you are able to manage your workload.
Photo Credit: © Mavelstida