Time is finite!
You have heard somebody say it before, or you have said it yourself, “I wish there was more time in the day.” We all experience this at some point in our life. It doesn’t matter whether you desire more time in the day for personal projects, or work projects. Here are six practical ways to make you more productive and get more done in the day.
Baby steps: Realize your limitations
My first and perhaps most important time management tip is, realize you CAN’T get 10 things done in one day, much less an evening when it comes to personal projects. Come to grips with the reality that time is finite. Figure out what is a truly realistic amount of tasks that can be accomplished in a day. When it comes to projects, think in baby steps. Each day focus on a few things that help you get closer to finishing that project or task.
Utilize a project management system
I’ve recently touted the KanBan method of organization, and recently found a website that lists 10 different tools available for that system. I had only known about three of them when I started using this. But, it really doesn’t matter what system you use. Just use something that helps you stay focused and get more done.
I do recommend going beyond the typical task list. I have found that looking at a lengthy task list can just be overwhelming. It helps to at least break up your tasks in order of importance. Dave Ramsey recommends 4 quadrants; urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent and not important, and things that are not important and not urgent.
The advantage of the KanBan method is that it allows you to visualize your entire workflow, rather than staring at a long list of tasks and projects. You can visually see which things are merely a task that gets done quickly, and which things are a project that are ongoing, as well as projects and tasks that are pending; it essentially turns your laundry list of tasks into a workflow chart that is always moving forward.
Learn to say no
Time is precious. We have to learn to say no to things, especially things that fall into the Dave Ramsey quadrant 4, not urgent and not important. I’m probably most guilty of not saying no when it comes to meeting with people. My nature is to want to help everybody, but I have to remember it’s important to guard my time. So, now I make it a point to only schedule one meeting a week with people that are asking me to invest in them. I also have to be cautious about what calls I take. Too many times I’ve given in to taking a call that I know is a sales person, and 20 minutes later the sales person is still rambling and has wasted his time as well as mine. Learn to say NO, and you will free up more time for productivity.
Close your email and especially turn off notifications
Notifications are the king of distraction. And by king, I mean that annoying little kid that keeps throwing his toy on the ground and wants you to pick it up for him, all while giggling and stomping his feet. Notifications are nothing more than a pointless distraction. My phone has zero notifications, other than calendar notifications and actual reminders related to life and work.
Turning off email notifications on your desktop email are also super important. It can be VERY easy to get distracted by a seemingly important email when you are right in the middle of working on a project that really is important. Better yet, when you are not emailing somebody, just close your email client completely. If you are able, I would even recommend only checking your email at set times throughout the day.
This was hard for me when I first started growing my team. I was used to doing literally everything, and I wanted to continue to do everything despite my growing list of responsibilities. I always felt nobody is going to do this as well as me. This feeling is common amongst entrepreneurs and managers. But, I’ve heard it said, once you can find somebody able to do the job 80% as well as you can, it’s time to pass the torch. Some people will even go as low as 70% effectiveness.
Either way, you have to realize you are human and can only do so much. If having more time is important to you, you have to learn the art of delegation, and don’t be afraid to spend some time training a team member. The time you spend now will free up more time for you in the future. You just have to make it happen. Sure, there will be some bumps along the way, but when is running a business ever smooth sailing?
Cut the cable and kill your television
When it comes to finding more time in the day for productivity, one of the easiest things you can do is kill your television. The result is lots more free time in the evening that can be spent on being productive, as well as more quality family time and time for personal projects. Just about anything has more long-term benefit than watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad.
Literally adding more hours to the day is, unfortunately, not possible. But, you can make better use of the hours you do have. It just takes developing some time saving disciplines: realize your limitations, utilize a project management system, learn to say no, turn off notifications, delegate, and kill your television are the ones I feel are most important. Another great blog for time management skills I recommend is Time Management Ninja. There you will find loads of good content on time management – something we can all get better at.