by Sarah Kaminsky
Running a successful company comes with the same challenges, regardless of whether you’re leading a team of 5, 50, or 500. For most leaders, having insufficient time is one of these challenges.
When you’re a business owner, in addition to making sure that all current operations are going smoothly, you are also in charge of looking far into the future (often father than anyone else). Additionally, you’re the one bearing the responsibility for all the menial details that often don’t even cross your employees’ minds. So, it’s no surprise that getting everything done often takes much more than the eight hours you have between 9 to 5.
But is that to say that effectively managing time as a business leader is impossible? Certainly not!
This is a skill and a practice that can be learned and perfected, so even if you’re lacking in the area, you can start incorporating positive practices now. Of course, not all time management techniques work for everyone, and most will require either some getting used to or adjustments. But giving them a try can free up a significant portion of your day to focus on the tasks that really matter.
Three Excellent Approaches to effective time management to implement into your day.
#1 Most Effective Approach to time management: Do a Time Audit
The first step towards improving the way you’re doing things is to look at the way you’re currently approaching your biggest challenges. If you’re reading this because you want to be more efficient or productive, it’s not a bad idea to give yourself a couple of weeks to study your current work habits.
There are a couple of ways to approach this task:
- Pen and paper: Write down the time you start on a task as well as when you end. Any breaks you take, write those down as well.
- Calendar: You can use a digital tool you already have to log all your hours. If need be, you can export the data you need or go through your records or your calendar manually. It will give you a clear idea of what tasks are taking up the majority of your day.
- Tracking apps: you could also download a time-tracking app (TrackingTime has both free and paid versions). Set it up to track automatically or manually, depending on your preferences.
Resist looking at the data right away. Give yourself at least a few days to get into the habit of tracking assignments, so that it becomes a natural part of your process. Once you’re sure you’ve got a handle on the newly introduced habit, go through your records. What do you see? Can you identify any time-wasters, distractions, areas where you’re taking too long to get things done? If the answer is yes, you’ve successfully identified your biggest obstacles.
For most business leaders, traditional productivity solutions will work great – delegating, automating, or just crossing unimportant tasks off your to-do list. You may also find that you’re breaking up your process too much, or aren’t taking enough breaks, which, in turn, results in a dip in your productivity. Again, solutions will vary, but basic practices such as blocking social media apps during certain times of the day, or silencing notifications, can have a great impact.
So can implementing a tried and tested productivity technique, such as the Pomodoro method.
#2 Most effective Approach to Time Management: Adjust Your Approach
The thing is, your personal expectations and approach to tasks have a huge impact on how efficient you are at completing them. If you find something difficult and give in to the idea that it’s impossible to do, chances are, you’re never going to succeed. But, if you look at an obstacle and think of it as a challenge you want to master, well, then it’s an entirely different story.
Applying this approach to your time-management shouldn’t be too hard
- Set your goals with intention and a positive approach. If you’re working on a project that needs to be finished within a month, just break that month into 30 days. From the get-go, this gives you 30 smaller, achievable tasks you can commit to.
- You can even go further than this. You can break each of those 30 days into segments: 2 or 3 hour periods where you can dedicate to a specific task. This will prevent you from multitasking, as well as from becoming overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you need to get done.
- If you start your day by thinking: “Wouldn’t it be nice if,” you’re turning any expected problem into a potentially positive experience. Even if something doesn’t go as you’d ideally want it to you won’t feel as if you had failed. As a result, you won’t be losing motivation because of things beyond your control.
#3 Most Effective Approach to Time Management: Constantly Improve Your Process
Once you’ve gotten rid of distractions, implemented a productivity method, and learned how to take a positive approach to all the items on your to-do list, it’s time to turn your full attention to your work process. Chances are, you’ll find that it can use some improvement. Try looking at your tasks and see whether they truly matter. Often, we tend to give ourselves assignments that are unimportant to the way our business functions. If you’re unwilling to let go, but don’t currently have the resources to commit to something, then definitely delegate.
The ultimate goal is to eliminate as many things as possible from your to-do list. The reason for this is not so that you can slack off, but rather, that your mind is less burdened with things your employees can get done. That way, you’ll have more creative capacity to direct towards the important aspects of your business.
Another thing to do is to set aside one (even small) a portion of your day for learning. Whether it’s by listening to a podcast, reading a book, or just mingling with your team and looking at their own work processes, you’ll find that everyone has a unique technique for getting things done. If something catches your attention, don’t be afraid to give it a try – it may just be the method that pushes your company to the next level.
In Conclusion…Wash, Rinse, Repeat:
For these methods to work, you will need to remind yourself to use them regularly. Every once in awhile, take a step back and take a look at your work process. Do a time audit and cross off unimportant tasks from your to-do list. Check-in with yourself and adjust your approach. Remember, the best way to effectively manage your time is to be mindful, and to nurture positive and realistic expectations.
And finally: Learn, improve, experiment. As your business grows and changes, so will your needs. Thus, to be the best leader you possibly can, you need to be ready to make changes.
What are the techniques that have worked for you so far? Are you aware of any distractions or time-wasters in your work process?
Are you one to take a positive or negative approach to deadlines? How do you work on personal growth on the business front?
Let us know in the comments below.