Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Between meetings and chores, balancing family and work, most business owners have thought this at least once. Entrepreneurs know when starting up a business each hour is an important one. So while cutting corners and delaying projects isn’t an option for entrepreneurs on the run, there are tips to help make the most out of each day.
Rescue a CEO and CEO Blog Nation asked entrepreneurs for their tips for maximizing time.
Learning to place barriers
We have emails and calls pouring in every day on a variety of alternative health topics. Rather than answer them as they come, we set time apart specifically to answer simple questions or encourage those with more complex issues to explore the services we offer. There is no advantage in answering every question of information seekers immediately–paying customers have precedence. In today’s digital age, placing these barriers between your work and personal life is important. It’s also much more effective than making it difficult for people to contact you in the first place or becoming unapproachable.
Thanks to Melanie Angelis, The Grecian Garden
Dump your to-do lists
Dump your “to do” lists and put everything “in time” in your calendar. Constant over commitment and overwhelm are the result of deluding yourself on two fronts, the first is that there are more than 24 hours in a day and the second is how long things take to do. By using your calendar instead of to do list you provide your staff with insight on how to best support you, prioritize and optimize focus. The “got a minute?” hit and run events in the hallway can turn into an accountable response. “No, I don’t have a minute right now, but if you schedule with me at 3:00 I will give you my full attention.” That’s a lot better than grasping some of the details and having to go back later to get clear about what you think you said about what they needed! Using your calendar instead of a to do list tells the truth about your capacity and teaches by example how to fully utilize a day, shift tasks, meetings or unexpected events so that you have a realistic view of your day while preventing people from back-filling when you have to put something aside. Instead of “aside” it goes in time, on your calendar somewhere else.
Thanks to Linda Galindo, Galindo Consulting, Inc.
Balancing online and offline time
The most effective way for maximizing my time is to Balance my Online and Offline time. The business and social environment today is suffering from the 24/7 quick response, always online expectation. Taking time away from the online gadgets is getting harder to achieve and damaging our productivity as entrepreneurs. During my offline time when there are no interruptions from emails and phone calls, I’m more productive and have my most inspired ideas for my business. To maximize my time even further I love taking a walk and listening to music. This improves mental agility and the lateral thinking part of the brain so when I get back to my desk I’m more than twice as effective in producing work that involves the higher mental functions, like thinking abstract thoughts, or planning for the future (as seen in research from Clinical psychologist Charles Emery of Ohio State University). Research has also shown that those who have the ability to take a moment to daydream are also more productive and come back to their work with more clarity and are better able to provide solutions to problems.
Thanks to Carolyn Verhoef, Outside the Box Organisation Solutions
Scheduling when I have the most energy
I find that managing my schedule around when I will have the most energy to dedicate to the highest return tasks is highly effective for me. For example, my energy wanes mid to late afternoon. That is when I schedule my committee meetings and volunteer activities, which are extremely important to me, but not critical to business outcomes. Whenever possible, I schedule client interactions and meetings early in the day. If I end up with a late afternoon or evening meeting, I make sure that I am well rested, have eaten well, and had a bit of caffeine to get my energy level up as high as possible. Relationships, both personal and professional are critical to success. I have resolved to show up for them at my best.
Thanks to Kristin Ford, Best in Learning
As small business owner, I maximize my time by planning ahead and scheduling everything. As a professional organizer managing ten organizers, I often find myself setting the standard and example for my clients. I couldn’t live without my iPhone and Outlook. All contacts, appointments, emails, and tasks are organized and keep my small business running efficiently. Color coding appointments and people helps block off and manage time for my busy schedule. Emails buckets (as I like to call them) keep my inbox close to empty. Each email is filed away or deleted on a day to day basis. The final key to managing time well is building routines into my week and month. On certain days of the week and certain days of the month repetitive tasks are completed. Those task include things like bookkeeping, pursuing new business, blogging, networking, and meeting with clients.
Thanks to Amber Kostelny-Cussen, Amber’s Organizing, LLC
Plan and use lists
Secret to maximizing your time is in planning and writing lists. Since us humans cannot think consciously on more that seven plus or minus two chunks of information, writing list can do wonders in maximizing time. Top seven tips to maximize your time: 1. Write lists of daily tasks, short pen is better than long memory so use it 2. Attend to most important tasks fist, unimportant tasks later 3. Remember that in any given moment and time if you are not attending to high priority tasks your time will be fulfilled with low priority tasks, be conscious of what are you doing 4. Chunk down your tasks, biggest problem in procrastination is that task may seem to be too big, so brake it down to manageable tasks by asking yourself “What is my next small step?” 5. Know your outcome out of every conversation, phone call, email, meeting, etc… 6. Work in uninterrupted chunks of time e.g. 50min uninterrupted work, 10min brake and so on 7. Forget about multitasking, it is a computer term, brain uses different parts for different tasks like sound, memory, pictures so attend to one task at the time with full attention.It has been proven several times that multitasking is lowering your IQ for 10 points.
Thanks to Damir Butkovic, Enjoying Life
Break tasks down
Use a timer for projects and set at 15 or 30 minute intervals. Use voice mail (unless you are involved in a needed project) telling people you will be returning calls at the top of the hour. Only look at e-mails (unless you are involved in a needed project) at quarter to the hour. Looking at e-mails and spending time on them is a bankrupting activity. Divide your tasks into Low Priority, Intermediate Priority and High Priority. LP, IP and HP and assign these abbreviations to all of your tasks. Decide in advance what percentage of your day you want to allot to each abbreviated task and put into your To Do list. Work accordingly. Don’t accept interruptions unless they are task related, telling people you will get back to them later. Learn to delegate the LP and IP items.Use a hard bound notebook to put down ideas, phone numbers, notes, things you want to remember or do later -like an idea book. Refer to later on your off time and transpose phone numbers where applicable, websites you want to visit, restaurants you want to remember, etc.
Thanks to Sarah Jo Wood, Evolving Advisors
Take breaks when possible
1) Measure it: It’s easy to wonder where the time went if you don’t have an accurate picture of how you spent it. Do you get lost in emails, phone calls, tasks that demand your attention, as well as major projects? I recommend using tracking software such as Toggl so you can account for each minute and see how/where you spent that time. It’s also a good way to stay motivated on track because it only allows you to focus on one project at a time. 2) Take Breaks: While it’s tempting to continue working when you’re on a roll, it’s important to take short breaks every few hours in order to get refreshed. Take a moment to stretch, eat a healthy snack, or grab some tea. Not only will this allow your body and brain to recover, it will give you some extra energy so that you can tackle your projects more effectively. 3) Take control: Don’t allow time to master you, instead, be the master of your time. Plan your schedule by focusing on things that have high importance and upcoming deadlines first. Don’t allow things like email, social media, or phone calls to distract you – instead, reserve time specifically for those items. Study after study shows that no one is able to multi-task effectively, despite what we tell ourselves.
Thanks to Simon Tam, Organic Marketing
Don’t look back
1. What are the Top 5 things you need to accomplish to become profitable? What is the single (Top 1) most important thing on that list? Write them down, look at them (Top 5), focus on it (Top 1) all day, every day, look again every 15 minutes until that task is completed. Repeat. 2. Either you control most of your distractions or they control you. Turn off your non-organic tools, toys and necessary technical devices – At least for a few hours a day; completely off! This is primarily for the working folk, plan for it and then execute. With no interruptions, look at your list of tasks and put your collective focus on it and nothing else. For the next 2-3 hours, do just that. Whoever is calling, emailing, IM’ing, texting or in some other way trying to reach you, can either wait or seek you out personally. 3. Don’t look back, other than to celebrate your success. You cannot change your past, don’t waste your time. You can affect today and tomorrow. When you reach your goal, then, take time to look back at all you have accomplished.
Thanks to Ben Sayers, VoIP Supply
Focus on the task at hand
Focus on the one task at hand rather than thinking about everything you have to do – it will slow your experience of time. Time can fly – you’re thinking about everything you have to do or time can crawl because only one item has your focus. When it comes to productivity, you’ll get more accomplished if time is crawling. Limit your daily to-do options to no more than 3 major tasks – you can always add more if you get done quickly. If you start with 10 and finish 3 you feel bad and that lowers productivity. Pick only the top 2 or 3 most important everyday and finish them and productivity builds through your own sense of accomplishment. Think less about the task and more about the outcome you are looking to achieve. Then work backwards to find the shortest route to the outcome – it might be a different task entirely.
Thanks to Susan Lannis, Time Liberator
Use an Excel spreadsheet
Maximizing time is extremely important when running a business, and as the CEO of an Internet Marketing Firm, I often find myself with multiple projects and tasks on my plate at the same time. What this means is that I frequently have to put one thing aside to deal with another, and because of this it’s impossible not to occasionally get things mixed up. I’ve found that the best way to deal with this organizational nightmare is to keep a list in an excel spreadsheet of all my current projects, which I can keep open and edit as I switch from one job to the next. Simply taking a moment to turn the box with the job I’m currently working on green, and the one I stopped to begin that job red, is a very simple visual trick to not get lost and end up with a mess of unfinished projects. The simple list design also lets you delete something when it’s finished, and the size of the list is a good reminder of just how much you have to do, which helps you budget the rest of your time as economically as possible.
Thanks to Kimberly Judd-Pennie, Cybermark International