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Top Ten Tips For Effective Time Management For Entrepreneurs

Top Ten Tips For Effective Time Management

Source: http://timemanagementstinger.com/

Leading on from last week’s post on how to improve your productivity instantly, these top ten tips for effective time management develop a few of the concepts and present some other ideas that you probably won’t have heard of. Importantly, we human beings are all different and work differently. It’s really about finding out what works for you. I’ve listed my personal top ten which I think you will find very useful.

1)      Forget time management – it’s a misdemeanour! Controversial I hear you say? If you think about it, time is the one thing in life that we can’t manage. We’re only dealt with a finite amount of it. I came across this concept from 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Steven Covey.  The trick is to manage your focus, rather than time. Whilst you think this may just be a play on words, it actually shifts your psychology when you start to think about how to best manage your focus in the finite time that you’re given. So rather than plough through your to-do lists, which don’t really work because there is no motivation attached to them (as you’ll have seen in last week’s post, How To Increase Your Productivity Instantly), make sure that each day you are managing your focus, and yourself, and getting at least one step closer to your goal (s).

2)      Double your productivity by halving your working day. What, are you crazy?! Let me explain. Do you ever find that you’re most productive when you have a limited time? Say, you’re going on holiday and need to tie things up before you leave. You automatically prioritise really effectively focusing on what must be done. Who decided that we work 8 hours a day? When you work for someone else, what tends to happen is that you fill that time, and that includes all sorts of other things that don’t really need your time – such responding to and sending emails all day long, social media interaction, texts, phone calls that don’t need to happen, pointless meetings, countless tea rounds (maybe that was just me), long lunches etc. Granted, when working for yourself, it often feels that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but try this for one week and see what happens – I dare you! I did this when I moved to Brighton in the UK and saw a dramatic increase in my productivity. I had something to look forward to in the afternoon, like cycling / running / swimming or kitesurfing or wakeboarding  – all of which I love to do.

3)      Reward yourself each day with mini rewards if you complete 3 major tasks that must be done. This ties in with (2) – for example, say to yourself “if I complete task A, B and C, then I’ll go to the cinema tonight, or I’ll see a friend or spend time with my nieces or nephews, or see another family member. If I don’t complete them, then I won’t reward myself.”

4)      Outsource everything that you don’t love to do. As an entrepreneur it’s tempting to do absolutely everything as you feel that only you can do it well – no wonder we suffer from overload. When you sit down and write out your entire task list, work out the activities that you love to do because you’re good at them, and delegate as much as possible the ones you don’t want to do which you procrastinate about – this is often the admin – book keeping/taxes or responding to customer queries for example. There are outsourcing desks like Elance.com or 123 Employee where you can find yourself a virtual assistant for a very reasonable price. You’ll need to train them, but that alone can help you as it focuses your mind when you prepare for them exactly what you’d like them to do.

5)      Get into the zone. You have probably heard about athletes who get into the zone when they are in a state of peak performance and feel as if they can go on forever. This is also called Flow. Similarly, when we’re working, we need to feel energised and great about what we’re doing. In “Flow” The Psychology Of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihali describes flow as the state of consciousness when you’re completely mentally involved with something. Flow state is when we’re entirely engaged mentally and psychologically. This leads to creativity, enjoyment and a total involvement with life. We all work differently. It’s often advised to work on your most creative tasks first thing in the morning, the ones which will add most value to your business as this is when you’re fully charged after a nutritious breakfast and some form of exercise.

However, you may discover, that you work better at night. Certainly throughout university I found I was a night owl and would work much better late at night, sometimes until 4am – but this is often not so easy when you need to have a sensible body clock that fits in with other people’s working days. Last week I mentioned the 60-60-30 solution which I was actually introduced to by Eben Pagan. This is because our bodies have Arcadian rhythms which cycle every 90-120 minutes. The next stage of this is to figure out when you’re more productive in the day and to get a feel for your mental energy and ability to focus and concentrate. The idea is to get in tune with your body’s natural rhythms. Don’t attempt to work when you’re feeling tired and very low on mental energy – instead, relax and do something completely different. Recharge and don’t seek out caffeine!

Stay Focused By Decluttering Your Home Office6)      Make sure your work zone is tidy and organised. People often say that your place of work is a reflection of how organised your mind is. If you’re a messy person, the chances are that there will be another area of your life which is disorganised and requires attention / help. I’d have to agree with this. What happens you see, is that if there are peripheral distractions such as piles of paperwork that need filing, which you may think don’t affect your concentration, they send messages to your subconscious mind that there are tasks that need to be completed – so you are never able to focus with 100% of your attention as the subconscious mind is thinking it needs to finish the incomplete tasks.  The best thing to do, is remove everything from your desk and replace only the things that are necessary for your current task. And yes, that means the stapler and hole punch you only use when filing.

7)      Do your filing daily so it doesn’t build up. Organise using clearly labelled folders, colour-coded if you like, so you can find something on demand within 30 seconds. This frees up your mind and clears out the subliminal messages that are sent to your subconscious mind that there are things that need to be completed.

8)      Don’t have lots of windows open on your computer that don’t need to be open. This is essentially multitasking which we all now know is ineffective and damaging to our brains. Have you ever got lost in your thoughts as you’ve flitted between windows? Maybe that was just me! There is no need to have windows open which are unnecessary and it seriously hinders your ability to focus and concentrate. At the end of a task, close down the window (s) and move onto the next.

9)      “Clean the grill” at the end of the day. This is concept used in the restaurant business where everything is cleaned so the next day will be started fresh. The same applies to your work space and computer. Make sure you shut down your computer so when you start it up in the morning, there is a blank canvas. This really helps with concentration and reduces stress.

10)   Work in a creative environment to induce creativity and a focused environment to help with focus. This may sound weird but it has been proven that our minds work differently according to the environment in which we work. For example, red rooms are meant to help with focus, and blue rooms are meant to induce creativity. If you don’t feel like repainting your study every couple of hours, then try to work in an environment conducive to whatever it is that you’re trying to do. If you want to get creative, and you love nature for example, then work somewhere where you can look out to nature and let your mind wonder. Maybe take your laptop down to a park or coffee shop overlooking a park. And when you want to be focused, you may want to go to a library.

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  1. […] where Steve Tobac looks at some of the myths associated with “time management”. In my top ten tips for effective time management, you’ll have seen that I came across the idea the time management is a misdemeanour as one […]

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