Being an entrepreneur isn´t easy - not only do you have to provide an excellent service but you also have to run a business and manage your own time, and do all three successfully. Do you ever find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed when you think of all the things you have to do, or find that you just can´t seem to get on top of all the work?….here are a few tips and techniques you can apply to get more done and feel more productive.
When you want to improve your time-management skills – there are many areas to look at, you can begin by understanding how you currently spend your time, how do you use the time you have? Next you can identify bad habits and once you have identified these, you can learn tools to change these habits, you can also read about the top mistakes often made, but first, you need to know how to plan, prioritize and perform your tasks effectively, otherwise you will never be as productive as you can.
There is a common expression that says ¨By failing to plan, you are planning to fail¨. If you don´t plan, you won´t know everything you need to do to make a project successful. You might be inadequately prepared, face unexpected problems, deadlines could be missed and your reputation could be at stake, or you are left feel overwhelmed, unorganized and stressed. You must understand the value in planning, it may not have immediate results but don´t forget what it is costing you to not plan.
At the end of the day, spend at least 15 minutes planning your next day. This way, you will wake up with a clear sense of what needs to be done and at the end of the day you will feel like you have accomplished what you needed to.
So the first step is you have to write everything down, don’t keep anything in your head. Put it all down onto a piece of paper, an excel spreadsheet, whatever works best for you. Also remember to include your routine tasks in your daily planning. When we are planning our tasks, it is helpful if we allocate a specific amount of time for a particular task, how long you think it will take, and you need to be realistic. Also remember to keep your actions bite-sized – limit actions to a solitary activity, eg: I need to complete the newsletter; is too broad, will you be working on the layout, design or the content? You need to write each activity, not the outcome.
So you have written down everything you need to do and you have allocated a time to it. What next, which task do we complete first? There are only a certain amount of hours in the day and in order to be more productive, we need to do the tasks that will bring us the most value, you need to prioritize, you must understand which tasks require action and prioritize sensibly.
Ask yourself - If I could choose one thing on the list, which would be the most important? Or
which tasks would give me the most return on my investment of time?
After identifying the most important task, you look for the second most important, and keep so on, taking into account, time allocation for each and planning, what activity needs to be done.
You can group your tasks into different categories and this can help you to prioritize, most of your time should be spent on categories 1 & 2
1. Important and urgent – these tasks expect a response in a short period of time – You need to do these tasks, they are urgent, but remember ¨if you keep putting out fires¨ - you are not making time for other tasks that are important but not urgent.
2. Important and not urgent - these initiate action, like marketing for eg; putting your name out there, it is not urgent, it does not need to be done today but it needs to be done, it is important. This category is where you should be spending most of your time.
3. Urgent but not important - require immediate action, not high priority. You find yourself saying yes to too many things for other people or you find yourself being interrupted.
4. Neither urgent/nor important - but are probably worth doing - this is ¨busy work¨ - often diversionary – emails, cleaning your desk, distractions. These tasks give you the feeling of being busy
5. Wasted time - is your time better spent somewhere else? Is it worth doing this task? Can it be delegated?
Once you have planned and prioritized; you have to perform! This means that you have to concentrate on one task until it is 100% complete! You have to complete it with no distraction or diversion at all. Turn off your mobile and close your email, remove those distractions that you know you normally have. This will increase your productivity, the quality and the quantity of your work. If you focus on completing one task at a time, you will be surprised at how much you can get done!
Planning, Prioritizing and Performing are keys to success!
Also…don’t forget to follow your energy, how you feel, do important tasks when you are most energetic and alert.
And remember if you can´t find more time, change the way you use the time you already have!
My name is Kirstin O´Donovan. I am a Personal Growth and Productivity coach at TOPResultsCoaching, helping individuals to gain control over their time and to feel more productive, empowered and fulfilled.