Who amongst us has not read about time management in books, taken a class for the same or tried to use apps and planners to prioritize and manage our schedule for the day? Yet, with all of these gadgets and knowledge available to us, we still struggle to get things done on time. The reason behind the perpetual failure of time management systems and gadgets is that these systems manage clock time, which is irrelevant to us as we need to manage our activities in real time. The good news is that unlike clock time you can actually create and manage real time.
As an entrepreneur, you will be pulled in different directions frequently. While you cannot get rid of these interruptions completely, you do have the power to decide how much time you’re willing to spend on them. It’s time to set yourself free from the self-limitation of not having enough time to manage your affairs appropriately. Quintessentially, time management secrets boil down to three simple techniques:
1# Prioritize – “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” – Stephen Covey
Everywhere we go, we carry our to-do lists in our heads. And often, we’re worried about how we can’t get through our long list of to-do’s. The trouble is that we don’t want to accept the reality that this list is NEVER going to be completely ‘done’. The key is to get used to that idea and start setting priorities.
Before setting your priorities you need to establish your goals, which in itself is a daunting task, however, once you have an idea of where you want to get, what you want to do, and how quickly you want to reach your goals, it’ll become much easier to single out the things that need your attention. All you need to do is ask yourself: “Is this task taking me closer to my goal?” If your answer isn’t ‘Yes’, you certainly know that it is NOT a priority.
2# Manage interruptions – “The effectiveness of work increases according to geometric progression if there are no interruptions.” ~ Andre Maurois
How many interruptions occurred on your last workday? There may have been stacks of emails, number of phone calls, hallway banters, coffee breaks, colleagues stopping by your desk and many other things that suddenly demanded your attention and, in doing so, sidetracked you from the tasks at-hand. Your workday only has so many hours in it and handful of these small interruptions can deprive you of the time needed to achieve your goals.
To manage interruptions in your every day schedule, practice not answering all the calls and e-mails right away, rather, schedule a time to return phone calls and respond to emails. Disconnect from instant messaging – you don’t need to give people your immediate attention unless it’s absolutely critical in your business to provide an instant human response. Block out additional distractions like Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media unless they help you in generating business and when you absolutely have to get your work completed, don’t think twice before putting up a “Do not disturb” sign!
3# Focus – “To focus means to bring your attention to the center, to concentrate on one thing intently in order to gain clarity.” ~ Cheryl Richardson
Setting priorities was the first task and once you’ve done that you’d know what matters most, the next key thing is to focus on getting it done. More often than not, we see ourselves in a fire fighting mode, fluttering from one catastrophe to another. In the midst of all the chaos, we find that we’re nowhere near our goals than we were a few weeks back!
That’s depressing – and disturbing. The solution to this predicament is to remain focused on the task at hand, ignoring any distractions, pushing aside low-priority jobs until the important ones are completed. To regain your focus, you must pick up your to-do list every morning and turn your attention towards the single most important task on the list and don’t let go until that task is completed. I can vouch for this approach, as I follow it myself. The habit of remaining focused will help you in making substantial progress towards hitting your targets.
To sum up, time management is essential, especially if you want your business to be more efficient and productive. If you learn the above mentioned effective time management secrets, you will certainly see some positive results in both business and in life.