It is not uncommon to find yourself in a schedule rut, with loose ends needing to be tied long after you have time or energy with which to tie them. As an entrepreneur and business owner, your time is incredibly valuable. If you cannot find a way to balance your work tasks and manage your time appropriately, it will often lead to severe mental and emotional headaches in your personal life. This article is here to help guide you towards proper time management for the benefit of both you and your organization. We’ll cover practical tips that can help you construct an appropriate schedule and get your day-to-day routine in check.
So, what is time management? It is a skill, it is a practice, and it as almost a way of life. Time management is something that can be picked up easily but can often appear overwhelming and almost mythically impossible from the outside. Once learned, it is something that requires dedication and practice to excel at or even benefit from. Time Management can help you achieve the greatest potential from your day by minimizing distractions and creating a focused plan of action. It can also help you balance your mental health and energy throughout the day.
Personal Time Management
There are two types of time management that need to be addressed. This article deals with both personal and professional time management. Often the lines between these two can blur together, but proper time management skills help you to clearly differentiate between persona time management and professional time management.
Personal time management relates to how you spend your day, whether that be working, socializing, or even relaxing. A great place to start with personal time management is to take the first 5-10 minutes of each day organizing your schedule. This helps you set achievable goals throughout the day while also letting you build a mental plan around what needs to be done and when. I suggest prioritizing the hardest item on your agenda as the first thing to tackle. Studies show that by removing the largest obstacle first, you approach the remainder of the day with a clearer attitude. Conversely, if you wait until the end of the day to do the hardest thing, you place a cloud of impending stress over your mental process, often leading to rushed jobs and careless mistakes.
Professional Time Management
As an entrepreneur, your professional time management will often be further divided based on how you manage your own working time and how you manage the overall working time of your company and your employees. When you’re the boss it can be difficult to manage your own time when so much of your job depends on being available to clean up messes and deal with problems as they arise. The best way to manage your professional time is to create a culture of time management within your company. It’s easier to level with your employees if you are all setting similar goals around a similar time structure.
Unfortunately, this often means setting due dates and for companies that don’t already have much synchronous time management this can be a big change. However, if you can manage to get your employees on similar schedules, the benefits are exponential.
Decluttering Your Day
So, how do you decide what to do and when? What is the first step towards time management? We’ve already discussed making your first task of the day the most imposing, but what happens when you have dozens of micro-tasks with similar due dates? Here is where time management can really be put to the test.
Effective time management consists of planning and delegation. While starting with the most difficult task can help alleviate the stress of your day, sometimes beginning with a small, quick or easy task can help set the pace. A quick task to ease you into your day can help build a feeling of accomplishment that can guide your mental focus throughout the day.
If you are a small business owner, you most likely have a team around you as well. It is important to remember to utilize them when you are feeling overwhelmed. If you find that time management is impossible because you simply have too much to do then perhaps its best to delegate and to share the load with your team. You may find that other members of your team will also need this kind of time management support from time to time.
But perhaps your time management issues don’t stem from being overloaded or from lack of a plan, perhaps there are just too many distractions. Sometimes as the day draws on it can become more and more difficult to stay fixated and motivated on the task at hand. So how do you stay motivated?
This is where goal setting can become a major help. Often it is easy to get lost in the mundane aspects of your daily work when you are not connecting them to the result. This is going to be more common with employees who perform most of the day-to-day duties instead of “big picture” projects. It is important to keep the team up to date on what is going on and how their roles help play into that big picture. As a boss, you can greatly help your team stay motivated and on top of their time management by reminding them about the importance of what they are doing and how their work helps support the bigger aspirations of the business.
So how do you know if you or your team are really seeing results from time management? How can you tell whether an employee is managing his or her time better without helicoptering over them all day?
The key is to set goals that can be easily attained and tracked. There is not much of a point to time management if you do not have ideas for how your time could be better or more efficiently used. Set goals for your employees such as responding to emails by a given time or completing an extra project within a certain time frame. Find ways to help them succeed and in turn to help the company succeed at the same time.
Time Management can seem pretty vague and without finer definition and clearly set goals, it can quickly seem pointless. However, proper time management allows you and your employees to work more efficiently without having to overwork. Time management is all about finding organized ways to complete your work without becoming overwhelmed. It is an art that requires planning and practice. However, effective time management allows you to revolutionize both your process and your attitude when entering the work day.