When you’re trying to run a successful business, it can sometimes feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day. And, some days, it can feel less like you’re running your business and more like your business is running you.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Rather than getting overwhelmed by the thought of not having enough time, take action by putting these five time-management tips into place.
Honor your calendar.
Your calendar is more than an app or a notebook with reminders in it— it’s the roadmap for your productivity.
Every night, review what you have planned for the next day. Every Sunday, check the calendar to see what you have coming up in the week ahead.
When you’re booked all day every day—like I often am—not knowing what you’re doing in a given day will leave you feeling out of control and disorganized. That makes it a lot more difficult to put your best foot forward.
By knowing exactly what you need to accomplish each day, you can minimize surprises and set yourself up for success.
Buffer your schedule.
One thing that has helped me out tremendously has been adding buffer time into my schedule. For example, if I have a 30-minute meeting planned, I’ll block off an hour: 15 minutes before the meeting, and 15 minutes after.
This is really helpful to me for two reasons. The first is that I don’t always have much time to prep for meetings in advance. By adding 15 minutes into my schedule before the meeting, I’m making sure that I don’t go in unprepared.
The 15 minutes after the meeting are there in case the meeting runs long. In a lot of cases, it does. But, even if it doesn’t, I can use that time to answer emails, return phone calls, or take care of other smaller tasks that aren’t on my calendar. On that note…
Block off time for all your tasks.
You’re probably using your calendar to keep track of meetings with clients and any business-related events you have. But what else are you using it for?
When I’m hosting a webinar, there are a lot of moving parts, and planning needs to be a priority. That’s why we book time for brainstorming sessions, run-throughs, in addition the webinar itself. We do this because if these things aren’t on the calendar, they simply won’t happen.
Be proactive by blocking off time for even the smallest tasks. For example, give yourself 15 minutes a day to catch up on emails. I don’t do this often enough myself, but, when I do, I feel more in control of my day.
Another thing you should do is block off time for lunch. Don’t schedule anything else in that 60-minute window. When you do this, you’re making sure your lunch break doesn’t detract from anything else you need to get done.
Personally, I hardly ever get to take my lunch. For me, that time is an opportunity to take care of things I wouldn’t get to otherwise.
Prioritize your tasks.
I highly recommend the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. One of the things he teaches is: “Do it, delegate, defer it, drop it.”
You can start implementing this strategy right away with your email inbox.
- Do the simple tasks.
- If a task is more complicated, defer it.
- If you don’t have to do it yourself, delegate it.
- Delete your junk emails.
Full disclosure: I’m sure David would freak out over my inbox, since I have 405 unread emails as I’m writing this.
If you don’t have time today to complete tasks or delegate them, you can at least get organized. Start by sorting your emails into separate folders (labeled by type or due date). Then, you’ll be able to move through them as you have time.
Even just putting every unread email in the appropriate folder can bring you peace.
Wake up early.
I encourage everyone to wake up between 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning. Successful people get up this early. They do this because, by getting up at this time, they earn an extra two hours where they can get ahead of everyone else.
By the time I get to the office at 7:30 a.m., I’ve been functioning and getting things done for 3 to 3.5 hours. By noon, I’ve worked a full day, and then I get to work another day. Imagine the advantage I have over other people who don’t do this.
Waking up early has given me control of my life. If you can’t get up at 4:30 in the morning, consider putting in more hours in the evening—even just a couple of nights per week.
If you try putting just a few of the things I’ve suggested here into place, I’m confident that you’ll see positive results. But, if you take nothing else away from this, remember that you have more power over your schedule than you might think.
Like I always say, the difference between top producers and mediocre producers in any business is that top producers take action. Take action today!