Why is time management such a huge industry with so many books and courses available? Because most of us are absolutely shocking at it, wish we could do it better and occasionally make half-hearted attempts to be more efficient – but somehow never get around to it.
The importance of time management
As a small business person it is absolutely vital that you make the most of your time. Some people will say you that time is money but it’s much more than that. There is only so much time in the day, it is a limited resource. How you use your time will be one of the most significant factors in the success of your business.
The success of your business is based largely upon your ability to think clearly and logically about a wide variety of topics, from where the company’s vision and how that is going to be achieved, to tackling the issues that seem to crop up every day.
Good time management techniques will also stop you fretting about those things you haven’t done, help you sleep at night, and ensure that you take enough breaks and time off to keep yourself refreshed and working at peak productivity.
It’s hard to believe that rushing around and having lots to do could, with the right techniques, become a source of tranquility and allow a quiet sense of achievement. But find out what works for you and you will achieve more, and be more relaxed, than you ever thought possible.
Write it all down
The first thing is to write down absolutely everything that you have to do, from the biggest to the smallest jobs, including business and personal tasks.
This will be your master list, and it makes sure that no matter how busy you are, you never forget anything. If it’s on the list it will get done – eventually!
The great thing about making lists is that the human brain loves to complete things. The same drive that makes crosswords and jigsaws so addictive can also be harnessed to get your jobs done.
Think about the last time you crossed something off a list and how good you felt, and imagine doing that every day.
The master list provides the raw material for your daily to do lists.
The next steps are to prioritise your tasks and work out how much time it will take. When working out how much time something will take it’s always best to err on the side of too much time rather than too little.
Towards the end of each working day, go back to your master list and draw up your list for the next day. When you go home, place it on your desk or counter or dashboard so that it’s the first thing you see when you come into work the next day.
In addition to daily planning it’s also important to plan over longer periods of time, which is why an annual wall chart is such a useful tool.
The first thing you should do is to give yourself some time off! Mark off your annual holiday(s), weekend breaks and any other time off, for example for major family occasions.
Then mark major deadlines and work backwards to see when the work has to start, also marking on any milestones that have to be met.
Keep this somewhere you can see it, it will help keep you focused.
Know your best times of day
Some people work best in the early hours of the morning, some late at night. Know what’s best for you and schedule your tasks accordingly. If mornings are your best time, do all the complex ‘thinking’ work then and leave afternoons free for meetings, travel and less intellectually demanding chores.
Most people hit a post-lunch or mid-afternoon energy slump.
Use this time to do low-energy tasks like essential reading, replying to emails, meetings, filing or running errands. Also do jobs that need a little physical energy that will help wake you up again, such as tidying up or walking to a meeting.
In the corporate world it’s difficult to develop your own style unless you have a very senior position. One of the beauties of being your own boss is that this is relatively easy.
If you have the money and the desire, be quirky. One top manager has not one but two BlackBerrys. Another is so irritated by being interrupted by his mobile phone that he refuses to ever answer it, instead it’s always answered by his PA (harking back to the old days of a boss having their secretary answer the phone).
One of the most important tasks of a business owner is to think strategically about the business and mull over solutions to tricky problems. For many, getting into the office a couple of hours before everyone else is the secret.
Supported by Business Builders and originally posted on http://au.smallbusiness.yahoo.com