- Accurately tracking your time is a foundational step in your mastery of time management.
- Finding, and eventually ridding yourself of, low-impact activities is crucial for all would-be entrepreneurs.
- Multi-tasking is a productivity myth; far better to devote time to one task, and one task only, before moving onto the next task.
There may be no bigger factor in your business development and success as an entrepreneur than your ability to manage time and work productively. And though we’ve all heard the mandates of time management, how do we get ourselves to take action on this important part of business management? What are some key ways that we can improve our time management skills so we can eventually reach our business goals?
One of the first steps you need to take to master your time is to find out how you are spending your time, and removing low-impact tasks from your day-to-day activities. Once that’s accomplished, it’s just a matter of learning to work on one task at a time, and tackling your most important tasks at the beginning of the day.
Here are four ways to fast-track your business development and become an expert at time management.
The Role Of Time Management In Your Business Development
1. Keep Track Of Your Time
There’s an old adage: What gets measured, gets managed. It’s difficult to boost your time management efforts, and become the super-productive entrepreneur you were always meant to be, without having a clear idea of how you are currently spending your time.
This means committing to track every minute of your day, for at least a couple days, from the time you wake to the time you go to bed. You can do this the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, or using a more modern approach, such as with an Excel spreadsheet or an app on your smartphone or tablet.
The goal is not to make drastic changes or be highly critical of your current habits. Simply observe how you spend your time for a majority of the day (it goes without saying, but this exercise is only useful if you are honest with yourself).
2. Eliminate Low-Priority Activities
Once you’ve had a chance to log the time you spend each day, you’ll quickly discover two important things: you have more free time than you think you do and that you spend quite a bit of your day wasting time on low-impact activities.
This can be a shocking revelation the first time you actually sit down and look at how you spend your time. One quick calculation to determine the percentage of time you spend on productive work that serves you and non-essential, time-wasting stuff, may be a real surprise to you.
What may be more unsettling are “seemingly” important tasks (checking email, taking phone calls, running errands) that really don’t move the needle in your business. Instead of beating yourself up for engaging in low-priority tasks, which we all do from time-to-time, identify one big time waster that you’ll remove each week.
You don’t need to become a time management expert overnight, but by honing in on those subtle obstacles to your productivity, you’ll find your much more effective and happier.
3. Work On One Thing At A Time
In these fast-paced times of ours, it can be tempting to open 20 tabs on our computer and have 13 apps going all at once on our smartphone and feel like we are being productive. Many entrepreneurs will claim they are great “multi-taskers,” and that they, by staying busy, are getting more done than others.
But the science tells another story. It turns out that multi-tasking is a bit of a myth. In fact, the constant jumping from task to task can wear you out, both mentally and physically, and leave you far less productive and stressed out.
A better approach is to use something like the Pomodoro Method. Based on the old kitchen timers, this productivity method involves working in short bursts of 25 minutes, with five minute breaks following, in which you work on one task, and one task only.
It may sound simple, but it can be staggeringly effective, and somewhat life-changing. You may think you need all day to work on your real estate business plan or four hours to write some sales copy, but chances are you’re simply taking a task that could be executed in a short amount of focused time and stretching it out.
By using the Pomodoro method, you may find you not only become more productive, but tasks in your business take a lot less time than you would have ever thought.
4. Worst Things First
Daily planners can be helpful, but they can be misleading in the way they present every hour of every day as being equal and similar to each other. The truth is that your energy levels, both physically and mentally, wax and wane throughout the day. It is far better to dedicate the first few hours of your working day to the highest-priority tasks first, before doing anything else.
This is the thinking behind the concept “worst things first.” And though the term “worst” may have a negative connotation, it really just means tackling the most important item on your to-do list, and not busying yourself with low-impact (though much easier) tasks first.
Of all the productivity strategies mentioned in this article, this one may be the most difficult. It is not easy to confront that item on our to-do list we’ve been putting off. But if you can slowly cultivate the habit of tackilng your most important tasks, first thing, you’ll not only experience a lot less stress — and get a ton more done in the process — but you’ll also enjoy a huge boost in confidence knowing your maximizing your potential like never before.
Do you have a time management strategy that has helped your business development? Let us know in the comments below.