As a busy entrepreneur, you may feel like there’s always more to do than time to do it in. With so much responsibility on your shoulders, it’s critical that you are wise in the way you spend your limited time. Here are a few ideas to help you maximize your waking hours.
Write it down. Tasks that keep floating around in your head can add to your stress. When tasks pop into your head, add them to your planner (whether it be paper or digital). That way, you can free up your mind to focus on other things rather than an endless list of to-dos.
Use your planner. While it’s critical to record tasks, it’s just as important to consult your planner regularly to ensure that you remember and accomplish them. A good time to review your planner is at the end of the day. Make a game plan for the following day so you wake up with a clear picture of what you need to accomplish.
Accomplish dreaded tasks when you’re at your best. Every entrepreneur has jobs that they find daunting. Relegate those to the times of day when you are most energetic and productive. For example, if you are a morning person, tackle the jobs that you are least excited about early on, while saving the simpler and more enjoyable tasks for later in the day when you’re losing steam.
Establish and maintain order. If your workspace is messy, you’ll be less motivated to work and you’ll waste a lot of time looking for things. Tidy your work area thoroughly and don’t step away from it at the end of the day without returning it to an orderly state. If you have trouble putting things back in the right place, use clearly labeled bins and file folders to keep you in check. Adhere to the “touch it once” policy—meaning that you should take care of paperwork when it comes to you, rather than setting it in a big, unruly stack to deal with “someday.” This applies to computer files, too. If your files are poorly organized, you won’t be able to access them efficiently. Also, if your computer is bogged down with too many old files, it will perform sluggishly.
Minimize interruptions. If you let emails and texts rule you, you’ll be a slave to them from sun up to sun down. Break the habit of looking at your phone first thing in the morning, as it sets a pattern of being reactive (not proactive) for the day. Set aside certain times to check emails (perhaps once at the beginning and end of the day) and don’t look at your inbox in between. Turn off your texts while you’re in meetings or focusing on other tasks throughout the day. Otherwise, each time your phone dings, you’ll shift your focus and lose productivity.
Delegate. You can do a lot, but you can’t do it all—at least not while maintaining your sanity. Take a good hard look at the things that monopolize your time and decide which of them could be handled by someone else. It may take you many hours to set up a website, for example, but a professional may be able to do it in a fraction of the time and use their experience to generate a product that you’ll be happier with than your own novice attempt. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t spend time doing things that may be better accomplished by experts in those fields.
Take breaks. Working harder is not necessarily working smarter. Taking little breaks throughout your day can help you return to your workplace feeling refreshed and recharged. The same goes for vacation days. Some people feel that they don’t have time to get away, but vacations can give you a fresh perspective, jumpstart your creativity, and infuse you with greater energy.
Learn from the experts. Attending an Amazon sellers event is a great way to get input from experts in the online selling industry while networking with other entrepreneurs and service providers. Taking a couple days off of work to attend one of these conferences can pay dividends by giving you shortcuts for success and ideas for avoiding common pitfalls in your industry.
Give yourself time to be creative. It’s difficult to be productive and creative at the same time. Set aside times to be creative, such as the early morning and evening hours. Don’t get so caught up in checking off your daily jobs that you can’t squeeze in time to imagine and create. After all, these practices are essential for innovation.
Time is the great equalizer: none of us has more than 24 hours per day. However, if you’re committed to improving your time management, you’ll be surprised at how much you can squeeze out of your limited time.