Time is Money…Use It Wisely…

4 Time Management Tips to Maximize Your Productivity:

As a business owner, time is always your most valuable asset. Instead of thinking of time as parameter, something that’s counting down until the day is over and you’re “done,” think about time as opportunity. Learn to use time wisely and you’ll likely notice a surge in productivity. Here are 4 guidelines I’ve found to be most helpful when managing my own time.

1.  Organize your schedule.

It’s a no-brainer. Doesn’t every business have a schedule? Isn’t that how workdays…well, work? Yes. And yes. But it’s up to you to dictate how that schedule gets made. At the beginning of each workday, take 20-30 minutes and plan out every part of your day—do you have any appointments? Are you prepared for these appointments? What phone calls, or emails, need to be attended to?  Etc. What you’ll notice by doing this is how much time you actually have throughout the day. Do you notice any slack in the schedule? Are you wasting time by simply waiting around for an appointment or phone call, when you could be using that time for something more productive? There’s nothing wrong with taking some down time, but do your best to plan that, too. Get into the habit of mapping out every single day. Take control of the clock.

2. Delegate.

“If you want it done right, do it yourself,” doesn’t always apply in business. As you probably know, most businesses are built on the principle of delegation, of separating tasks, of accomplishing more as a team rather than just one person. Whenever you can, assign tasks to employees to complete so you can take on tasks that only you can complete. As you make your schedule each morning, figure out what tasks are able to be completed by a trusted employee or partner and allow them to focus on those tasks while you focus on your own. Remember: Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you need to be a hero. Learn to delegate and soon you’ll see how your business begins to function like a finely crafted car. Everyone does their job and you all move forward.

A Quick Note for Sole Business Owners: If you don’t have any employees, then delegate with yourself. Divide tasks into parts and complete each part separately, ultimately leading to conquering the whole task. It’s easier to bite off chunks rather than adding stress by thinking you need to take on the whole.

3. ALWAYS Set Deadlines.

ALWAYS set deadlines. There, I said it again. The reason I’m putting so much emphasis on deadlines is that without deadlines, the mind is prone to procrastinate. And if we’ve learned anything as business owners, its’ that procrastination is what ultimately kills productivity. So, you have a task to do but no real time frame in which it needs to be completed? Well, then why do it right away? Your commitment to the task hasn’t been established with a deadline so other activities, however small or distracting, are able to creep into your day. Set deadlines, but be realistic. Deadlines are not punishments, they are meant to keep your time properly managed. You can set these deadlines in your morning schedule and as you delegate tasks, use deadlines to keep your employees on track. And don’t feel the need to reprimand yourself if you don’t meet your own deadlines. At first, what’s most important is that you set a deadline and you worked as hard as you could to meet it and didn’t give up. Business isn’t always perfect, but deadlines will act as guides for how to navigate your time throughout the day.

4. Avoid Multi-Tasking.

Multi-tasking is a myth! For example: you have your phone to your ear, one hand on the steering wheel, iPod in your other hand, coffee in between your legs—and you’re tired. You’re driving, talking, figuring out what song you want to listen to, and trying to figure out the most optimal time to take a sip of coffee. Which task are you paying attention to the most? The answer is none of them. In this scenario, you’re giving each task 25% of your attention. That’s right… basically an accident waiting to happen. You’re driving a car with only one-quarter of your attention. The other three-quarters, then, are being used for menial tasks that can either wait for a better time or are unneeded altogether. I’m not saying multi-tasking is always life threatening, but I want you to think about my analogy when you have multiple tasks per day. Many business owners think that by juggling many tasks at once, they are achieving more and using their time even better than by just doing one measly task at a time. As discussed in #3, it’s best to start and complete one job at a time to be sure you’re full attention is being used to meet your deadline. You’ll also see that by moving from one task to another until each one is completed will actually improve your day’s productivity. Your daily schedule should be organized in such a way to preclude any need for multi-tasking.