One of the most valuable assets in your business is your time. It is always a good idea to step back from time to time (I recommend at least quarterly) to review what you are spending your time on and if it is profitable for you. Adopting effective time management methods and improving your skills in this area is a great low cost way to benefit your business.
Ask – Am I managing my time effectively?
First of all, what does that mean exactly. Effective time management is the successful achievement of goals when your time is used. Many times, as an online entrepreneur, you may count every minute that you sit at your computer as “work time”. Falling into this nasty trap does not reflect a realistic measurement of your time. You must honestly review what you are actually spending time on when at your computer. Is this work necessary to your business or is it “other activity”?
Are you spending time on social media doing research or are you catching up with your friends, family, hobby or group sites? There’s nothing wrong with doing this but is it really related to your business and is it aiding you in building your business or reaching your business goals? Be honest – there are no time management police – you are the one you are accountable to.
Everyone falls into the social media or research rabbit hole from time to time. However, in order to be more productive and profitable you must be willing to put some practices in place to aid you with your time management. You will spend a bit of time to get used to the new methods. However, you will eventually spend less time at your computer and more times doing what you love to do.
Identify your goals.
A well know saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”, is very appropriate here. It can be quite overwhelming to look at your list of goals and know where to even begin.
Write down 3 big hairy goals that you want to accomplish within the next six months to a year.
Break down the first goal into a step-by-step outline of everything that will need to be done in order for the goal to be met.
Using your step-by-step outline break it down further into what needs to be done daily or weekly to achieve these steps.
Repeat with your other big hairy goals until you have them all outlined step-by-step.
Daily, Weekly and Monthly Tasks
Now that you have your goals written, write out all of the daily/weekly tasks. These are the tasks you must do to keep your business going. These are things like blog posts, email sequences, social media work, participating in collaborations, etc.
Figure out what other tasks that you need to get done in the next several weeks. Write those down as well. Some of these tasks might include tracking affiliate income, paying out affiliates, pay bills and much more.
After figuring out these tasks, prioritize them for your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. Priority tasks must come first, then schedule your upcoming big hairy goal tasks around them. When you are aware of all that needs to happen, you can improve your use of your time and your effectiveness in your business.
Methods for Time Management
There are loads of effective time management methods and strategies to be found in a search of the internet. You could spend a few years exploring all of these options, but I’ll mention a few here that have been very successful in my experience.
The Pomodoro Technique
This technique uses 25-minute time intervals to focus on the project at hand with a 5-minute break, repeating three times then a 30-minute break to either transition to other tasks or to restart the 25-minute time intervals and 5-minute breaks times four total.
This technique is highly effective because our brains need a break intermittently during the workday. The breaks provide time for the brain to reset for effectiveness and efficiency. This is my favorite effective time management technique.
You can learn more here.
The Time Chunking Method
Very similar to the Pomodoro Method except after the four rotations of 25-minutes working, 5-minute breaks, the longer break is just 15 minutes. You can learn more about this method here. The Time Chunking Method: A 10-Step Action Plan for Increasing your Productivity.
Put an End to Multitasking
The illusion of multitasking is just that – an illusion.
Much research has been done in this area and the findings tell us that multitasking, or trying to multitask, is detrimental to our brains as well as decreases productivity. This study from Stanford University says that,
“When they’re [multitaskers] in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal. That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”
The best practice for effective and efficient working is to laser focus on the task at hand and tune out everything else. Your time management will become so much more productive for your business by implementing this technique.
Schedule in Brain Breaks
When planning out your day, week or month, pay special attention to planning in breaks. Several breaks throughout the day allows the brain to refresh and refocus. Daily 5-minute breaks after 25 to 30-minutes of focused work are especially valuable for your productivity.
Taking one day per week and a few days per month to relax and do something that you enjoy is beneficial not only for your physical and emotional health but also for the health of your business.
As your own boss, you are the one who must be diligent about your brain health and productivity. Your diligence in creating an effective time management technique will pay off with your consistent application of it and you may see results faster than your expect to.
High Energy Zone
Productivity zones are different in everyone. Take a minute and evaluate if you are an early bird or a night owl by nature.
In my house my husband is an early bird – even on the weekends. He hits the floor at 4 AM during the week and at 6 AM on the weekends and is raring to get into his day. I, on the other hand, am a night owl. I would rather stay up until 2 AM when it is quiet so I can focus and not be pulled in various directions to fulfill my roles as wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. Then, sleeping until 10 AM or so is bliss.
Knowing this information about myself helps me to know that for me to be productive I need to begin to focus on my business at about 8 PM and begin to work on my goals and tasks.
If you want to be productive, figure out your best times for high energy and zone in on those times and crush it!
When you are looking for ways to be productive, one of the most basic ways to do this is to set specific hours for your work time. Communicate your business work hours to your family and friends.
Also, be diligent in adhering to your own schedule. The bottom line is that if you don’t respect your own boundary for work, your family and friends will not respect that boundary either.
Limiting Social Media
With the incorporation of social media into our daily lives we have the capability to keep in touch with friends, family and business associates any time, any day, anywhere.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I love being able to keep in touch, almost in real time, while living across country from family and friends and working remotely.
This awesome connectivity can also be a time suck when it comes to business productivity. One thing that I have instituted during work time is to stay off of social media for personal reasons during the work day.
Let’s face it! We love email, until we don’t. We love to see that we have new messages in our inbox. Often times we can’t wait to see who has sent us a message. Then there are times when there is nothing but junk, loads and loads of junk.
One habit I have instituted during my work time is to check email only two to three times per day. I space it out over the day so that about every three hours I stop and focus only on email. It generally takes me about 30 – 45 minutes to handle all the
Also, learning to manage your email using rules and tags to filter out your priority emails will allow you to prioritize the important messages and leave the others for later.
Another great way to manage email is to unsubscribe from the lists that you have no interest in. This will clear out some of your inbox clutter and allow you to manage the inbox more productively.
This is one of the absolutely easiest techniques to adapt into your business with just a little planning and communication to your friends, family and colleagues.
As we said before, your time is the most valuable asset in your business. Use your time to increase productivity and profitability. It is one thing that you are able to control. How you spend your time may be directly related to how your business progresses and profits. If you want to grab my free checklist to help you get started, click here!
There is no time like the present to being your journey to get your time management skills honed to focus on productivity and efficiency.
Have thoughts or questions about Time Management? Let me know below!