Time is precious when you run your own business. Being your own boss is a dream for many, but it comes with a lot of responsibility – and a lot of items on your to-do list. People regularly say to me that they don’t achieve everything they want to, are swamped with tasks, and just not good at time management. There is hope!
At school I studied Spanish, and got a D at AS level (the first half of ‘A’ levels, back in those days). I was a straight-A student, and I really struggled to come to terms with getting a D – what was I doing wrong? Was I stupid? What a failure! D is for devastated.
I dropped the subject for ‘A’ level, no way was I risking another D. But I kept thinking about it, and why learning Spanish at school didn’t work for me. I’m quite determined and stubborn, and at university decided I wasn’t going to be beaten – I changed my degree course so that I spent a year studying biology in Madrid, in Spanish. Somewhat a baptism of fire, but that intense submersion worked for me, and now I’m fluent.
It wasn’t that I was stupid or doing it wrong – just studying languages in the classroom wasn’t the right technique for me. And you are not bad at time management – you just haven’t found the right time management techniques for you.
Find your optimal time management approach
Below are some time management techniques that I find help many people. Some might be right for you – or not, but this does not mean you can’t ever be good at managing your time and workload. Keep trying, and find the techniques that work for you.
Set SMARTY goals
Goal setting is crucial to any good time management strategy. To make sure you’re spending your time on activities that support your business goals, both short- and long-term, you need to define those goals in terms that are clear and attainable. Read how to make SMARTY goals here.
You can’t do everything simultaneously. Which of your goals are more important? Therefore, which of your tasks are more important? Some people find the Eisenhower matrix helpful for short-term task prioritisation if you’re in a panic.
Take a minute to think about the things on your to-do list; could they be deleted? Try to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t working towards your goals or benefitting your business. When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing!” — then say “no.”
I never decide what I’m doing on the day. I am not a morning person and decisions at that time would not go well! I just pick up my to-do list of tasks each day, which I wrote at the end of the previous week. Planning enables you to think about your goals and what to do to achieve them, put an achievable quantity of work for each day (this does take practice), and give you focus.
Social media, phones and apps are all designed to be distracting and addictive. Take back control. Turn off notifications and close apps you aren’t using for your current task.
Track your time
We are pretty bad at knowing how long we really spend on tasks. Time just passes and we’ve reached the end of the day, with some stuff done. Track your time for a week or so to learn the truth. It’ll help you plan an appropriate amount of time for each task going forward, or consciously limit time spent on less productive activities.
Look after yourself
Being fuelled by caffeine and sugar does not lead to endless hours of productive work; try to eat well. Studies show that regular exercise helps improve concentration, sharpen memory, speed up your ability to learn, and even lower your stress levels – all great for time management!
You can do this!
There are millions of time management techniques. If you’re struggling to get everything done in time, it’s not your fault – you just haven’t found the right techniques for you yet.
You chose to become a small business owner, and every day you get to wake up to a day full of the possibilities you created for yourself. What a wonderful opportunity! Take control of your time management and celebrate your fabulous situation.
In my Productivity Programme I help people achieve more in less time and identify the right time management techniques for them. If you would like my help, read more about it here, or perhaps just a consultation.
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