As business owners and entrepreneurs we face no greater challenge in both our personal and professional lives than organising and managing our time. A hard truth it may be but procrastination and poor self-control are often to blame for not being able to achieve what it is we have set out to do for the day, and in order to accomplish our goals, we need to be able to plan (and perhaps more importantly) control how we spend the time we have.
The first point to remember is that we can’t manage time itself, it is not a physical being and so we have no control over it! Humans are physical beings and we only have so many hours in each day in which to accomplish our goals.
If you prefer, Albert Einstein’s definition of time is 'the occurrence of events, one after the other.' And we could therefore substitute time management with ‘event management’ or since we are controlling events, ‘event control’. However you prefer to put it, we each have a certain number of hours that belong to us, and because they belong to us, we can manage them.
There are some great articles out there on how to manage time effectively (perhaps we are procrastinating by reading them…) but here are our top tips for time management:
- Spend a week recording honestly all of your activities, conversations and thoughts – this will tell you how much time you actively spend on producing results and how much time is ‘wasted’.
- Schedule specific time (with a beginning and end) for all activities that are important to achieving success – this might be brainstorming, reporting or making sales calls.
- At least half of your time should be spent engaging in activities that contribute to your success and produce most of your results.
- Recognise that interruptions will happen and allow time for them within your schedule for that day.
- Spend the first half an hour of each and every day planning your day.
- Take five minutes before and after every call or conversation to establish what you would like to achieve from the call and then whether you achieved your goal.
- If you have to get work done, don’t be afraid to ask not to be disturbed.
- Practice ignoring the phone just because it is ringing and not responding to emails as soon as they come through and not giving colleagues your immediate attention unless it is absolutely critical for your business.
- Block out all social media and other distractions unless they are used for your business success.
Remember: It’s impossible to get everything done. Prioritising your work for the day before you start will make sure that the most important tasks and most productive tasks are actioned first!
As well as managing the time we have effectively, we also need to recognise why we procrastinate over certain tasks and what we can do to overcome wasting that valuable time.
Procrastination is a vicious circle. By this I mean if you want to overcome it you have to start working. The reason you aren’t working is that you’re procrastinating (and this has many different guises); you're postponing the work for any number of different reasons. Most likely is that you’re afraid of the end result and because you’re focussed on this, you don’t start work.
If you have a particular task that you’re finding difficult to start there are a few strategies you can use to help:
- If you’re putting the task off because you simply don’t have enough time to complete it in one go, break it down into manageable chunks. It will get done just the same.
- By planning your day and following it to achieve everything you set out to be the end of the day, you will automatically reduce the amount of ‘wasted’ time
- Set the most difficult task for your most productive time of day.
- Set yourself a reward, or time aside, to enjoy at the end of the task before getting on with the next activity.
Got a list of things to do? Let’s get started!