Get back hours a day with these 5 time management strategies
Do you have a “to do” list that never seems to shrink and leaves you feeling frustrated at the end of the day. Even though you’ve been able to cross off half of the items you hoped to get to, you can’t help but focus on what didn’t get done?
Story of our lives, right? As entrepreneurs, there are so many hats to wear and so many things we want to do, that our expectations simply become unrealistic!
You need a strategy! A plan to get more with less. I love that plan! I need that plan!
Here are five tried and true ways to get time back on your side. Try one or all of them. I like to call them the A, B, Cs of time management.
Allocate – Change your to do list from tasks to time
This one is my new favorite! I was constantly writing down big items, like “complete 30 days of content for instagram today” or “finish cleaning out the office”. The problem was that I could rarely complete the whole task and would feel down at the end of the day when I couldn’t cross anything off my list.
Instead of writing tasks on your to-do list, write down time goals. For instance, 2 hours on IG strategy. That way, you’ll focus on the activity instead of worrying about the outcome. You’ll find that you’ll become much more productive, and feel energized instead of defeated. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to give yourself an atta-girl as you check off all of the daily do’s that you accomplished.
Analyze – Reclaim those missing moments
In order to improve your time management, you need to really understand how you spend your time. There are lots of little time bandits out there stealing time without us realizing it. Driving to the store. Scrolling through IG. Going down the “research rabbit hole”. Many times, we don’t realize how much time we actually spend on non-productive or unintentional items.
Here’s a fun (and illuminating) exercise – do a Time Study. For one day, track your time. Include everything, from taking the kids to school to telephone calls, to posting on your blog. Then, take a look. What’s essential? What isn’t? How can you eliminate or reduce the time takers? The goal is to create less overwhelm and more room for the things we enjoy. You may be surprised how much time you’re able to reclaim!
Batch – Goal getting by grouping
Have you ever heard of batch working? This has been a lifesaver for me. It’s really just a way to organize your schedule, but it makes a HUGE difference in your productivity.
The basic concept is that you group related activities together in large chunks of time in order to remain focused. Did you know that multitasking is actually incredibly inefficient? Hopping from one topic to another several times a day (or even hour) reduces your productivity by around 40%. Not only does it take longer to complete a project, but you’re also more likely to have errors when your brain is jumping from one thing to the next.
The solution? Batch working. Essentially organizing your workflow by topic or related activities that you allocate a big chunk of time to accomplish. For example, if you’re a blogger, instead of writing a blog a day, write 5 in one day that you can use for the entire month
You can even allocate the days in the month that you will complete various activities. On the last day of each month, I allocate a chunk of time to review my financial info and plan for the next month. It’s on the calendar. And because I have the time allocated, I don’t worry about it on other days. It’s one less thing my brain has to cycle through.
To get started, just identify your big categories (social media, marketing, planning, creating) and block the month or week. It will take a little discipline when you get started as you’ll want to go back to your old habits. Stick with it and I promise, you’ll feel more in control and productive than ever!
Block it- Go on the offense with a block and tackle strategy
This step is critical! You need to protect the time you’ve allocated to get stuff done. This means, you have to block it on your calendar. There are so many demands on our time and people or things wanting your attention. They key is discipline. You need to be your own time advocate. Your time is precious and you need to protect it!
The easiest way to do this is by actually scheduling the time and activities on your calendar. And once it’s there, you keep it there. And I’m not talking about just blocking activities. You should also block time to think and plan. Mark Zuckerberg of FB actually has “thinking time” blocked on his calendar for a couple hours each day. And yes, he sticks to it. Many of the most successful CEOs of big companies block time on their calendars to make sure they protect the time they need to not only get things done, but to think and plan. If they can do it, why shouldn’t you?
Cull – Eliminate Non-essentials
Last on the list is Cull, reducing the amount of things we put on our to-do list in the first place. It’s time to prioritize and focus on the activities that really move the needle.
Just as important as your to-do list is your not-to-do-list. Take a hard look at all of the things on your to-do list and ask yourself, “is this really necessary?”. Is this activity getting me closer to my goals? If not, take it off the list. Or, if that’s too drastic, you can move it to a “B” list. A nice to have instead of a have to have. By eliminating some of the activities or items on your list that don’t add value, you’ll be able to execute better on the items that do!
So, easy as ABC, right? Breaking old habits can be tough. They key is to create a sustainable system that ultimately leads you to less overwhelm and more time to do what you love. Even starting small, with one of the strategies will make a difference. The key is just to get started!
We’d love to hear what works for you! Please share your wisdom in the comments below.
I’ve create this productivity planner to help prioritize and manage time. Give it a try.