HOW is it that the Elon Musks and Steve Jobs of this world are so successful? After all, they only have the same 24 hours in the day as everybody else yet, somehow, they seem to go above and beyond with the time available to them.
Well, if you study the lives of extraordinarily successful people closely, you’ll discover one common habit. They are very careful about how they spend their time…to the nth degree. No matter how you slice it, we all have 24 hours in a day, so the key obviously lies in learning to use our time wisely.
Below are 11 Power Tips to dramatically increase your productivity and time managaement.
Tip # 1 Monitor how you’re currently using your time
IF it seems like your days slip by all too quickly, try creating a log of your daily activities. Once you see where you’re spending your time, you can identify and focus on the activities that provide the greatest returns for you personally and financially.
Start your log by writing down what time you wake up, get ready, and begin work. Record how much time you spend on individual activities such as email, phone calls, and client work. You might even want to use a time tracker app right from your smartphone.
Tip #2 Calculate how much your time is actually worth
TIME is money. Do you know what your hourly rate actually is ? Knowing how much your time is actually worth can help you make better decisions as to whether you should perform a task or outsource it.
For instance, if your time is worth $200 an hour, you are far better off paying someone $30 an hour to edit your newsletter. You can “bank” the other $170 per hour by spending your time on profit making activities.
Also take the time to determine how much time a day you need to spend on billable activities to meet your financial goals.
Tip #3 Have a daily schedule
Although you don’t want to be too rigid with this, it definitely helps to write out an outline of what your day looks like. You can use a piece of paper, sticky notes or a calendar tool like Outlook or Google Calendar.
Whatever it is, have something written down so you can refer to it throughout the day to bring you back on track. In other words, don’t start your day without a to do list.
Group similar tasks together, preferably doing business development activities early in the day when you are still fresh in mind and body. Break bigger projects into smaller tasks so they seem more manageable and easier to accomplish.
Tip #4 Prioritize
Have more to do than hours in the day? By prioritizing your tasks, you’ll make sure that you are tackling the items that matter the most. Create a system that works for you.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What items MUST be done today?
- Which items can be rescheduled?
- What can be delegated?
- Which tasks most closely match my priorities and goals?
- Which items can be eliminated?
Tip #5 Learn when to say no
Be strong and uphold your personal boundaries. Other people’s priorities may not be yours. When you are well rested and treat yourself and your loved ones to the time off you deserve, you’ll feel happier and more productive when it’s time to get back to work.
Before you say yes, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really have the time or energy?
- Do I need this customer or relationship? Are they good for me?
- Will it be profitable?
- Does it invade my personal space and time?
- Does it involve doing something I enjoy?
- Does it fit in with my list of priorities and goals?
Tip #6 Remove distractions and time thieves
TIME thieves are lurking everywhere like viruses. Think about what activities are eating up your time needlessly. These items include email, social media, and phone calls.
Conquer the email demon by checking and responding to your emails at set points in the day. If a family member calls during work hours, politely remind them of your work hours and offer to call them back.
Unless you are expecting an urgent call there is no reason you can’t let the call go through to voicemail and respond to it later. If the caller leaves no voicemail then the call probably wasn’t that important anyway. It’s just about being a little more smart with your time.
Tip #7 Stick to the plan
IF you have a game plan for the day (and you should, really) then try not to get sidetracked from your plan.
A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency for me.
None wiser words have been uttered in the field of time management. Unless it’s a true emergency, or you are being paid “rush” time, you probably don’t need to squeeze in a last minute request.
Also, by assigning yourself project deadlines, you can keep on top of projects and avoid those dreaded last minute emergencies.
Tip #8 Choose an inspiring place and time to work
WE are all built differently.
Do the tasks which require your greatest energy when you are at your best. Are you a morning person or do you work best when burning the midnight oil?
Create a work haven that is clean, distraction free, and inspiring. Does your office overlook your flower garden? Do you have displays of your favourite art on your walls? Or can you easily pop in to your favourite coffee shop when you feel like it? Whatever you do, arrange your work environment into something that doesn’t feel like all work and no fun. Business is and should be fun!
Tip #9 Group similar tasks
AS you work through your day, try to chunk your tasks into similar activities. It may be best to do business development, income generating activities first while you’re still fresh and vibrant, leaving admin and back office stuff for later in the day. This does not mean wishing them away, far from it. A good admin system will keep out of a lot of trouble and you shouldn’t ignore these tasks, just make sure to come up with a system that works for the business as a whole.
Tip #10 Avoid Interruptions
Tying up what’s already been said about avoiding distractions and grouping similar tasks, try to avoid interruptions. Finish what you start as soon as possible, this will improve your focus. If something comes up that you need to remember to do, unless it’s urgent, write it down somewhere you can see and carry on with what you’re doing.
Tip #11 Be organised!
If nothing else, at least be organised! When things are organised and easy to find, you save so much time and are free to focus on more complex assignments. Digging through piles of papers really shouldn’t be tolerated and there are plenty of free or cheap tools online to help you find your balance.
One tool that’s ever so helpful and that I like to recommend is Evernote. It’s pretty much my basecamp for organising information.
Whatever you do just follow your own organizational style to come up with a system that works for you.
Why wait for success when you can literally schedule it! By mastering your time, you can accomplish much more with less effort. Be choosey about how you spend your time. Focus on activities which most closely match your goals. By taking the time to monitor, measure, and manage your time, you will enjoy an abundance of success and happiness!