Improve Your Time Management Skills In 5 Simple Steps
by Alyssa Burgoyne
When I speak with business owners, many of them struggle to find time in the day to get everything done. That leaves them hustling in the evening’s and on the weekends too. All that hustling may seem like a great idea in the short term, however, in the long term it leads to burnout. When running a business or working as an entrepreneur you need to take time for yourself, and your loved ones too. Here are 5 tips you can implement today that will drastically improve your time management skills, freeing up time in your day!
Time blocking is an effective tool you can use to help manage your time. It comes down to breaking your tasks down and effectively estimating the time needed to complete them. When you time block you can use a physical planner or an online task management system. Either way, you need to write out your tasks for each day. After mapping out your tasks, estimate the amount of time needed to complete said task. Now it’s time to create a schedule for the day. Schedule a specific time of the day to work on each task and during that time commit fully to working only on that 1 item. When you have a to do list a mile long, breaking it down to individual tasks makes it less overwhelming to tackle.
Here’s an example:
Monday’s To Do List:
- Draft social media posts
- Take photos of products/store
- Write a new blog for the website
- Follow up with leads from last week
After you’ve written down your tasks prioritize them, and plan to complete the ones that require the most focus during peak times of your day. If you’re clear headed and focused first thing in the morning, work on those tasks first. If your peak time is mid-afternoon, that’s the best time for these more intricate tasks.
Here is an example of successfully blocking your time based on the above to do list.
- 9:00-10:00 am: Follow up with leads from last week. Send emails, and make phone calls. Add notes about contact to CRM system
- 10:00-11:00 am: Take photos of new products and displays in the store. Upload to my computer, and save in an organized filing system.
- 11:00-12:00: Lunch
- 12:00-1:00: Write a new blog for the website. Showcase new products from the photos taken earlier. Make any edits to the photos needed. Post blog to website or schedule to post when needed.
- 1:00-3:00: Create social media posts and schedule them for 1 month. Ensure accurate hashtags are used. Use more graphics/videos than text posts for maximum exposure.
- 3:00: Done for the day.
Plan 1 Week at a Time
If you have multiple moving parts to your business, have multiple businesses or work with multiple clients this can really help you. Sitting down and scheduling your week out at the end of the previous week will help you better manage your time. When we are working and chatting with clients it can be easy to fall into the trap of saying yes to every single project.. The reality is, that your schedule may not allow for that without sacrificing hours outside of your business hours and do you really want to lose out on your personal time?
Every Friday, commit to scheduling the next week out on paper or in your project management system. By being able to physically see what’s coming up, and the deadlines for tasks you will know with certainty how much time you have available to take on new projects or clients. If you’re booked solid one week, and have a potential client reach out for assistance, you can always schedule them in for the following week when you know you have will more time. Scheduling clients in advance also helps to keep recurring revenue coming into your business-something we all need to be successfully and for growth.
Cut The Distractions
This one is a tough one for all of us in our own ways. Cutting distractions when working on your task list is necessary to be productive. Here are a few ways to cut the distractions down:
- Set specific times of the day to check your emails and only sign into your account during that time. Email is one of the biggest distractions we face, so avoid your account or accounts during your time blocks for tasks every day.
- Turn your phone on silent. The constant ping of social media notifications is another huge distraction everyday. No funny cat or kid video on FB or IG needs to be tended to immediately! Same goes for your text messages.
- For those that work from home with kids, this one is really a challenge. Try and complete the tasks that require the most focus and attention from you during nap or quiet times for your kids. If you work evenings after bedtime, these quiet hours can be beneficial to help you with your time management challenges.
- We all have days where we’d rather binge watch our favourite series on Netflix or Amazon Prime, but don’t give in! Working from the couch with background noise is counteractive to effective time management. Instead, opt for working in your office space surrounded by the tools you need to effectively complete your task list.
Use the Right Tools
Using the right tools can make all the difference in your day. If you don’t have a project management software up and running for your business, it’s crucial that you get one. Trello is one of my favourite tools to handle projects on my computer. An online project management software or CRM system gives you somewhere for you to organize your files and information about your clients. By organizing all of your information in one place, you will save time hunting through multiple email threads, or multiple storage locations. Having your information organized online is also beneficial when the time comes to outsource. Most experienced virtual assistants or other business support staff, have experience with many online tools and will be able to jump in and find what they need to successfully complete their tasks.
This brings me to my next point-outsourcing. Many business owners avoid outsourcing because they don’t want the output cost. Think about this-what is your time worth? In a perfect world, what would you make per hour to run your business? Is it $50? Is it $100? Whatever the number is, take that number and multiply it by the number of hours you spend working on tasks that could be passed off to someone else. You may be shocked to see how much output cost you are putting out based on this calculation. Virtual Assistants are an affordable solution to outsourcing, and one that you can trust! You only pay for the time you need, are not obligated to pay taxes or offer extra benefits and you will save money long term in your business. Think about how effective your time management skills would become if you had more time to work on your business, instead of in it!
Improving your time management skills should always be a goal when you’re a business owner or entrepreneur. No one strives to escape the 9-5 to work longer hours than they used to. By implementing the 5 tips above, you will improve the time management portion of your business almost immediately!
Alyssa Burgoyne is an Online Business Mentor for female entrepreneurs and business owners who are ready to scale their business. Alyssa is passionate about the power of organization, and developing strategic systems and processes in your business to improve productivity. When she’s not working, Alyssa can be found spending time with her family, reading, and enjoying the outdoors.