Today it will be about time management. I would bet that everyone on this planet has wished for more time at some point.
In a world where we always go full throttle and check one thing at a time off our to-do lists, time is our greatest asset. She is our best friend and at the same time our greatest enemy.
After all, we want to really enjoy the time we have. But when we are in business mode, we also want to achieve as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Probably each of us can identify with it. However, entrepreneurs and sole proprietorships are feeling this pressure even more.
Good time management brings enormous advantages here. Using your time effectively will make you more productive and have more breathing space.
And the great thing is that some of the best time management methods are surprisingly easy to implement.
So let’s check out some time management tips and tricks that can help you maximize your life and gain valuable time. But first a brief definition.
Time Management Definition: What Is It About?
On closer inspection, the term time management is misleading, because time cannot be managed. It passes the same for all of us and we all have exactly 24 hours a day. So the only thing we can manage is how we deal with this time. And that’s what time management is all about.
It’s about methods and tricks to structure your day, to relieve yourself, to reduce your stress and to create more time for yourself. A quote from the Roman philosopher and follower of the school of stoicism Lucius Annaeus Seneca proves that this topic is relatively timeless
The 10 Best Time Management Methods
1. No More Half-hearted Work
This is probably the best time management advice I can give.
Half-hearted work can ruin your productivity. Worst of all, however, you may not even realize how often it interferes with your scheduling.
If I’m honest, almost every day I find myself working half-heartedly.
The whole thing looks like this: You are working on a project and then interrupt your work just to compulsively check your cell phone – for no urgent reason. Perhaps you are also one of those people who have 50 tabs open in your browser and are constantly switching between different tasks.
Such half-hearted work is insidious because it disrupts our focus – sometimes over and over again. A task takes a lot longer to complete if you can’t use the flow that you only get into when you really focus.
If you find yourself here, chances are you are spending extra time on tasks instead of using that time effectively.
Sometimes you just have to be more attentive and aware when it happens. If you can catch yourself, that’s half the battle and the first step towards better time management.
2. Put Your Cell Phone Away When You Don’t Really Need It
That might sound silly, but it works wonders for me.
As I mentioned earlier, compulsively checking your cell phone is a huge problem these days. In a survey, 65 per cent of the participants checked their cell phones 160 times a day.
This is especially true for business owners who always have something to review. (Also, scrolling through the social media feed seems much more appealing than finally tackling the dreaded project.)
Therefore, the physical distance (not only in Corona times) is an important factor in this time management method. Perhaps you pick up your cell phone out of habit. But if you then notice that it is not in its usual place, you will be able to concentrate much more easily on your actual task.
In the end, it’s very simple. Turn off your phone and put it in another room.
If you can’t put it in another room, consider placing it on a tall shelf, in a drawer, or under a pillow, for example. It just shouldn’t be made easy for you to reach for it without thinking. You will see that this simple trick will already work wonders for your time management.
3. Don’t Let Your Email Control You
Do you check your email a hundred times a day? For many of us, email is just as distracting as a cell phone.
I know: it seems easier to read your email as soon as you receive it instead of waiting for 300 to accumulate in your inbox.
However, the reality, especially with regard to your time management, looks different. If you keep checking your emails, you will find yourself in the maelstrom of half-hearted work again. You divide your attention into different areas, which in turn prevents you from focusing 100% on the task at hand.
Try to set specific time windows during the day to spend your time on email. Try to reduce these intervals to three times a day or even less.
Here is an example of a routine for checking your email when you’re working on a regular 9-to-5 scheme:
- Take 30 minutes to check your email at 9 a.m. first thing in the morning. (Alternatively, you can do your most important tasks first to minimize distractions and then work through your email at 10 or 11 a.m.)
- Another 30 minutes or an hour before lunch (or after lunch if your first email check was in the morning).
- You plan your last check-up for 4 p.m., another 30 minutes. This will give you some extra time to finish your work before you go home.
Of course, you can adjust this timing as you wish until you have found out what works best for you, your team and your internal clock.
4. Track The Time You Spend On Each Project
Nothing beats a certain responsibility.
To achieve better time management, you need to know how you actually spend your time. What can help here is tracking the time you spend on each task and project.
This will be especially helpful if you decide to use the Pomodoro technique, as it will already put a timer on for certain tasks.
You can use a time tracking app to keep track of your time accurately. Alternatively, you can use an old-fashioned table, just like I do.
I’ve been tracking my time for several years now, which has given an amazing boost to the effective use of my time. Since I started I can’t say anymore that I don’t know where my time has gone. Because it is tracked all day.
I recommend logging your time as often as possible and for as many tasks as possible.
If you stick with it long-term, you will have a better idea of which tasks are wasting your time and which can be done quickly.
Additionally, as you build a team, this information can help you scale further. You will know which tasks you can delegate to another team member or have to continue doing them yourself. This way, you can maximize the value of every minute you put into building your business.
5. Plan Your Day In Advance
Imagine this: You turn on your computer in the morning, ready to tackle the day. You have a list in mind of the things you want to get done.
But you check your email and get distracted by something else. Then a team member calls you and distracts you with another task that you hadn’t planned on.
And before you know it it’s 2 p.m. and you have no idea where the day has gone.
Sounds familiar? Planning ahead is one of those simple, but extremely powerful, time management and self-organization tips to avoid spending all day doing unplanned things.
Ideally, you plan a whole week in advance. But once you care about today, it may be a little too much to ask.
So start small by planning your next day towards the end of the workday.
If you always seem to be distracted by other tasks, you should plan for that too. Think about the most common times you will be faced with new tasks. You can plan an hour for this time.
6. Group Related Tasks
Back to the concepts of focus and flow. If you can easily move from one task to the next while avoiding large gaps, that too will play into your time management and ultimately buy you more time.
Research shows that changing tasks too often can deplete your mental energy and tire you more quickly. This means that the same task will take much longer to complete.
As you plan your day, be sure to look at every single item on your to-do list.
Which of them are similar? Which of them can be combined in a group so that you can stay in the same mindset when working on them.
For example, when I was working in a marketing agency, at the end of the month I had to produce a performance report for all of our clients.
The reports were all similar. Accordingly, I blocked a day or two for myself and devoted about 80 per cent of the working day to them. It was much faster than, say, writing one report a day for a week. This was because I usually used the same programs and dealt with the same types of information in all reports.
Think about how you can use grouping in your to-do list to keep your mental flow going.
7. Try A Time Management App
It turns out that most people would like to be better at time management. The market for corresponding apps and tools is therefore huge.
Regardless of whether you are looking for apps for your PC or your smartphone, there are a variety of time management apps that will make it easier for you to organize yourself.
You can use a best to-do list app to keep track of your time. But there are also more complex time management apps with which you can track goals for a daily, weekly or monthly period.
Some of these apps even let you download reports so you can keep track of your productivity and know exactly where you need to improve.
Conclusion: The Way To Better Time Management
Using your time effectively can be surprisingly difficult.
There are a million things to do every day. But there are also a million opportunities to be distracted.
This multiplies when you work with a team and especially in a leadership position where other people report to you and constantly ask you for help.
There are some valuable time management tips out there, not all of which will work equally well for you. The key is to keep trying until you find what works best for your unique situation and needs. Do you have any tips that I may have overlooked that work well for you? Let us know in the comments below.