Time is your most valuable asset when you are running a business. Do you want to learn how to be more productive in your business hours so that you can be more relaxed and happy and enjoy your life? Jon from Money Smart Guides is here today sharing his tips on how to manage your time and be happy.
Do you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Have you ever started working on a project and when you look at the clock you are stunned that it is hours later, yet you are nowhere close to being done?
This used to be me. I would get frazzled easily with my lack of time and how quickly the day would pass. I remember getting to the end of the day and only seeing a few items on my to-do list crossed off and wondering when or if I will ever get ahead.
As great as I thought I was at time management, I wasn’t as great as I could be. I wasted a lot of time and this resulted in me not getting nearly enough done in the day.
So I decided to make a change. It didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of a few weeks, I used some simple tricks to manage my time that have allowed me to avoid stress and be happier overall.
Now I get everything on my to-do list crossed off before the end of the day. This allows me to be more relaxed and present when I am playing with my two young daughters.
5 Simple Tricks To Manage Your Time And Be Happy
In this post, I am going to share with you my tricks to manage your time and help you be more productive and take control once and for all.
#1. Track your day
The first thing I did to get better with time management was to track out my day. You might have heard about this idea for people looking to get a handle on their money.
In that instance, you track every penny you spend for a month and then review. It shows you where you are spending money that you otherwise don’t notice or realize.
It works great for time management too. I only did it for a week, but it was eye-opening. I kept a journal next to me and recorded when I started working and what I was doing and then recorded when I started doing something else.
I’ll admit that I didn’t capture every time I switched from task to task, but I had enough data to review. And trust me when I say it was eye opening!
I didn’t realize how many times I switched over to the internet to look up a sports score or visit Amazon. When I totaled these up, I was wasting more than an hour on meaningless things.
And when I think about how I didn’t even record everything I did, I am certain that number was higher.
Because of this, I became more aware of my time and started doing things to block out the wastes. If I wanted to check something out on Amazon or see a sports score, I wrote a note and checked at lunch.
If I needed to run to the restroom, I made sure to refill my water bottle during the same trip so that I didn’t have to stop working twice.
Doing these things helped me get more work done during my day, but there was still more things for me to do to become even more efficient with my time.
The next thing I began doing was to plan out my day. At the end of each day, I stopped working 15 minutes before I was to leave.
I took this time to think about what I needed to get done the next day. What projects was I working on, who did I need to email, what other tasks needed to be completed, etc.
No matter what the to-do item was, I put it on the list. At this time, there was no assigning of tasks or putting them in a certain order. I simply just wrote down everything that needed to be done.
Doing this helped me to limit surprises the next day. How many times do you head into work with the big project on your mind and thinking that item is what you are going to focus on, only to get to work and remember that you have a client lunch that you need to spend the morning preparing for?
By looking over your day ahead of time, you can better plan out your day. This leads to the second step in planning your day.
Chances are if you mind-dumped everything you have to do onto a list, it is going to be overwhelming. You will have a huge list and you won’t be getting to a lot of the items on your list. This might even stress you out more!
This is where prioritizing comes into play. I take my list and run through it and figure out what are the 3 most important things I have to get done during the day.
These items go to the top of my list and everything else is ignored until I get these 3 things done. In some cases, I can delegate the non-important tasks away, but not always.
Another option is going with the Pareto Principle. I tried that in the past, but find that I get more done using my technique.
When it comes to determining importance, it is up to you to define it. If you are running your own business, then the tasks that lead to a bigger bottom line are probably of utmost importance.
But if you work for someone else, then getting your boss her report might be the most important thing you do.
So before you figure out your top 3 items, make sure you define and understand what importance means to you.
Doing this part of my plan is the most or second most important strategy. I find that when I get done these important things, I get motivated and energized to tackle more things, simply because I see I am making progress.
It really is amazing how powerful motivation is when it comes to getting things done.
#4. Early to rise
I mentioned that prioritizing is at the top when it comes to the tricks to manage your time effectively. Early to rise is right up there in the best success habits as well.
I wake up at 5am Monday through Friday. At first it was tough, but now that I am used it, it is easy. And to be honest, I love it.
I love it because I get so much done. No one else in my house is awake, so I have zero interruptions. I can focus 100% for 2 hours before I head to the kitchen for breakfast and see my daughters.
I usually start the day clearing out my inbox. I like doing this at 5am because most people aren’t awake either. So I can reply and rarely get stuck in a back and forth email chain.
Once my inbox is cleared out, I see if there is any simple task on my to-do list that I can knock out in less than 10 minutes. If there is, I do it.
By doing this, it gets me energized and excited as I am getting things done.
Then I switch over and start to tackle one of my big 3 items. I focus 100% on this item until it is 7am. Most times I make huge progress on it. Then I stop and think about my day and get even more excited.
I get more excited because I have made large strides in crossing out my big 3 and it is only 7am. I still have the entire day ahead of me.
#5. Pomodoro technique
When it comes to working on my tasks, I go all-in from 5am to 7am simply because there are no interruptions. I can focus and get a lot done.
But as the day wears on, this strategy doesn’t work as well. Things come up and distractions happen. I use the Pomodoro Technique but there are many time blocking techniques out there.
This works by having you devote 25 minutes to a task before moving on to something else. So for 25 minutes, I focus 100% on my current big to-do item.
When the timer on my phone goes off, I stop what I am doing and take 5-10 minutes to work on something else.
This means I might run to the restroom, make a phone call, etc. You might even spend the time checking sports scores. What you do doesn’t matter as much as doing it for just 5-10 minutes.
After that time is up, I go back to my big to-do item and work on it for 25 minutes again.
On the surface, you might wonder how this really works. After all, 25 minutes isn’t that much time. But you would be amazed at how much you can get done in 25 minutes when you focus 100% of your energy.
I know I was. What used to take me hours I get done in 25 minutes. The task wasn’t hard, it was just that I was constantly distracted and jumping from task to task.
When I finally sat down and focused for a set amount of time, I got so much more work done.
In fact, I usually can get my big 3 items off my list by early afternoon, allowing me to tackle smaller items on my list or to start working on things that came up earlier in the day.
#6. Review and revise
Finally, I take the time to review and revise my strategy. Every month I look at my process and see what is working and what is not. Then I make adjustments.
For example, once I started to follow this plan, I was taking the 5-10 minutes in between my 25-minute focus sessions to check emails.
This was a mistake because I would get sucked into replying to more and more emails. And in some cases, I got caught in an email chain and then a phone call to talk things through.
Suddenly my 10-minute break turned into 30 minutes.
So I made the decision that I wasn’t going to check my email until before lunch and then again later in the day.
If this isn’t an option for you, you can stick to a 2-minute rule when it comes to emails.
The bottom line is you need to review and revise your strategy because not every day is the same and you will find better ways to be more productive.
This is the strategy I use to become more efficient and get things done. I get to have breakfast with my daughters in the morning and then when 5 pm comes, I get to spend the entire evening with them, playing and joking.
I am 100% present because I don’t have work issues in my head. I am not stressed about work because know what I have to do the next day and am confident that I will get everything done.
It is a feeling of freedom and happiness that I love. I encourage you to try out my tricks to manage your time and see how it works for you. Feel free to even modify it so it better aligns with your circumstances.
At the end of the day, you can become more efficient with your time, you just have to take a few steps to make it a reality.
Jon helps people get out of debt and start building wealth so they can achieve their goals on his website, Money Smart Guides. He currently lives outside Philadelphia with his wife and 2 young daughters.
Related posts on time management:
- Time Blocking Tips to Make You Laser Focused and Super Productive
- 7 Tips for Planning Your Day
- 11 Top Biz Owners Share Their Best Time Management Hacks
- Avoid the Time Traps That Destroy Productivity
- All Time Management posts
FREE Biz Planning Workbook
Download your free printable Business Planning Workbook for solopreneurs. Set your goals. Make your plans. Stay focused!