One thing that people constantly wish they had more of other than money is time. We are time rich in our youth and time poor as we grow older. It’s one of those clichéd sayings that ‘Time is money’ but it’s a cliché because it’s true. Were rich entrepreneurs born with more time than the rest of us? Of course not, but they find ways to manage their time so that they have enough to go around.
Whether you have lots of business or personal tasks that need attention, having a lax attitude to time management can lead to an avalanche of tasks that will never get done. This not only restricts the flow of new and on-going tasks but can also cause an unnecessary mental burden which can lead to stress.
So how do you make the most of your time? There are some simple things you can do to make sure that your time is being spent on the right tasks and that you are managing your time efficiently. I see time management in three stages. Information, organisation and discipline.
You no doubt know what tasks need doing but are you aware of the importance of each and how long they will take. Even if you have an idea in your head of the time you need for a task it can help to write it all down. Keep a record of the time it takes to complete tasks so that you will be better informed in the future. An hour can very easily turn into an afternoon. Once you know or have estimates about the time you need think about the importance of each task. Are some tasks time critical? Are some far more crucial than others? Write all of your tasks down on paper and rate them on their importance.
Now that you are informed about what needs done as a priority and how long it should take you can assess how much time you actually have and see if the maths add up. If you simply don’t have enough time you have a couple of options. You can only do the tasks that you feel need to be done or you can get some help. If you run a small business this can range from outsourcing your call answering or bookkeeping to doing your shopping online to save you time for other tasks.
None of the above will work unless you are disciplined in how you go about it. You can write as many to do lists as you like but if you are not keeping one eye on the time it takes to complete a task you will find that the avalanche of tasks will return to overwhelm you. Being disciplined with time is not an easy thing to get right as there will always be unforeseen circumstances in play and distractions on every corner. One great tip that has served me well is to do the worst thing first. If there is an item on your list of high importance that you are not looking forward to that’s the one to do first. This is as much for the mental boost as anything else. Having a task weighing on your mind all day while you are carrying out work you’re enjoying doesn’t help anyone. How much more will you enjoy the work once that horrible task is ticked off?