Time Management – 7 Tips for Creating More Time in Each Day

Looking at WatchDo you often feel there aren’t enough hours in the day? You know the answer… there are 24 and that should be enough to do what needs to be done. You’ve heard the old saying, “Work smarter, not harder.” The truth is, as business owners, we always have to work harder… the trick is to use time management skills to make the hours we do work “smarter” for us so we get more out of each hour Here are seven time management tips to make the hours we work “Smarter, not Harder.”

Make Your Work More Efficient

Does everything you do each day get results? Find out which ones are working, and which ones that aren’t, and take steps to get rid of the time wasters that don’t benefit you or your business. The actions that aren’t making a difference to the results you want should either be cut out or streamlined so that they don’t take as much of your time. In an earlier post, I mentioned the value of YOUR time vs. the value of a Virtual Assistant’s or Freelancer’s time. Good time management says that, if you can hire someone to do some of your tasks for less than your time is worth, by offloading these tasks, you will actually be raising your profits – and have more time for the things you need to accomplish… and being with your family.

Automate

Many times, if you can’t offload a task to an assistant, you can find a software program (many of which are free to use) or web site that can automate it for you. The most obvious is emailing your client list. Good time management tells us to use programs like iContact or Constant Contact to handle this. You create a newsletter or email notification (or have a freelancer do it), then upload it to the mailing program, and… voilà, the mail is sent out when you want it, and your time is freed up. Examine your daily tasks… start with the ones that are the least mentally challenging. Move the ones out that need to be moved out, automate those that can be automated, and save yourself for the important tasks that are really worth your time.

Delegate

As with automation, look to outside help. Online virtual assistants are available around the clock and around the world. Work at home parent – hire a young person from the local High School to pick up your youngsters after school, bring them home, give them a snack, and make sure they start on their homework. There’s a couple more hours for you. As you find the jobs that you can offload, make sure you carefully define what the job entails – so you can instruct the person you get to help.  Find your flexible workforce at Elance. Post your job today, or better yet, ask people to recommend those they trust.

Break

Believe it or not, taking a few extra quick, mind clearing breaks during the day will actually make you more productive. Working for long, uninterrupted stretches taxes your mind, and you lose concentration on the task at hand. That loss of concentration costs you productivity that you really don’t want to lose. But a quick get up and stretch can give you a mental, “shake of the head” that knocks loose some thoughts that had been hanging you up. Stand up – stretch your body… it will stretch your mind also. These quick breaks will actually help you work longer and maintain the focus you need to get your best work done as quickly and productively as possible.

Stop the Interruptions

Some people look at interruptions as, “breaks” because they force you to change your thinking. The problem is that you, and your thought processes are not controlling these breaks – they are controlled by outside sources. When you control the break, you take it when you need it. Interruptions will usually interrupt you when you are in a critical thought chain – which you then may lose for good! So lose the distractions, not your thoughts. If you work in an office, use a, “Do Not Disturb” sign. Work at home – close off your work area and tell your family, “When the door is closed, I am not here!” Only answer the phone at scheduled times. Same for email… and no Instant Messaging! You actually create more time in your day by cutting out activities that waste it.

Change Your Schedule

Most people have certain times of day when they operate at peak efficiency. For instance, I am writing this paragraph in the morning… and am finding it much easier than I did late yesterday when I started on this post – mornings are my productive time. Others work better in the afternoon, or after exercise. Find your productive time and schedule your critical projects then… don’t answer the phone or email, focus just on what needs to be done when you will do your best. A bit of trial and error will help you find the “sweet spot” in your day. Find it and exploit it.

Don’t Push Your Limits

Using these simple steps will help you manage time and, “create more hours in a day.” But working more hours is not the right way, it just gets you burned out quickly – working without interruptions in your most productive hours will get you where you want to go… more done in less time – so you have more time for life outside of work, like your family.




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