— February 12, 2018
As a business owner, you spend your time thinking, acting and communicating, punctuated by too many interruptions. Maybe you’ve taken a time management course without realizing any improvement. Here are 13 tips to help you get better control on how you spend your time:
Track your time:
Write down on a schedule what you do as you do it. Do it for a week, and find out how much of your time is spent on thinking, acting and communicating. It’s the first step into a larger world.
An important activity or communication should be assigned a time. Try an appointment book, either the old-fashioned paper variety or an AI app with voice recognition. Then discipline yourself to keep your appointments without letting them run long.
Direct your activities:
Decide to spend at least half of your time engaged in communications, activities and thoughts. You’re more effective if you don’t waste time.
Schedule time for interruptions:
Set aside time every day to handle interruptions. You might set up special hours in which you are open to handling all the tasks that interrupt your work flow.
Use the first half hour:
When you first come into work, take the first half-hour to plan your day in detail, including when to handle interruptions.
Know your desired outcomes:
When you set aside time to perform a task or communicate with others, know beforehand what you want to achieve. By knowing what defines success, you can better achieve your goals and, if something is missing, identify what you aren’t doing right.
Use automated note taker:
Automated AI tools will transcribe, summarize and annotate meetings and phone calls so that you don’t have to. It’s a real time-saver and lets you better concentrate on what is being said.
Buy a “Do Not Disturb” sign:
Deploy it when you don’t want to be interrupted. A perfect accompaniment to a thinking cap.
Do you drop what you’re doing to respond to a phone call, email or text message? That’s not necessarily a good idea. Unless it’s an emergency, get back to people when it suits you, and schedule time for your replies.
Social media sources might be vying for your attention, but unless you need these for your business, ignore them. They are interrupting your schedule and your train of thought. Some people don’t allow Facebook or Twitter on their business computers.
Observe the 80/20 rule:
Don’t feel bad that you can’t get everything done during the day. Remember that 20 percent of your activities, thoughts and communications will account for 80 percent of your results.
Try the Pomodoro technique:
Set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes when you start on a specific task. When time is up, take a 5-minute break before beginning your next task.
Fill out your staff:
If you’re an entrepreneur who’s accustomed to operating on a shoestring, consider hiring staff to take over some of your time-consuming tasks.