I started my own business two and a half years ago and I was doing everything wrong for the first year and a half. My biggest mistake? Working HARDER rather than smarter. I was wasting my time being unproductive and exhausting myself without moving forward at all. In fact, it’s safe to say I was moving backwards. I see so many people go into business with several ideas and creative plans. I love that! However, I now understand the importance of sticking with the basics in the very beginning. After making my own mistakes, I’m now on a mission to help new business owners take control over their time, become more productive and actually get things done. Read on for 7 time management tips you can’t live without.
1. Have A Plan Before Starting The Day
I’m not one for organization (you should see my kitchen cabinets!) but I do understand the importance of getting organized when it comes to scheduling your time. I don’t have an abundance of time to focus on my business which is why investing in a good planner was key for me. You must know what your day and week will look like ahead of time so there’s no frustrating surprises along the way to throw you off course. Once a week, sit down and plan your entire week out.
First, block off non-negotiable tasks like working at your office job or an important meeting that can’t be missed. Then leave some room for family time. Block off the time needed for a family dinner or date night coming up. Remember, you need to have a life outside of your business too! Next up is planning your focused work time. This would be your business hours plus any additional time you have available depending on how your schedule looks for that week. Blocking your calendar like this will open your eyes to how much time you really have in a day so you can plan your daily goals accordingly.
Tip: Color code your tasks by type. For example, family time may be purple and focused work time could be red. This really helps to visualize how your week looks and how you’re spending your time.
2. Work From a List
The first thing I realized when starting my own business was the importance of working from a list whether it be a list of clients or a to-do list. When it comes to your to-do list, I suggest having it written out before starting the day, either the night before or first thing in the morning. This way you know exactly what you’re up against. Be as specific as possible when creating your list and make sure every task will be moving you forward to reach your business goals. Sure, you can add in a few extra non-important tasks that you’d like to get done but prioritize your list and put the most important tasks at the top.
Tip: Keep your to-do list on your phone so you always have it with you and can check things off throughout the day as you complete them.
3. Set Your Environment Up for Success
I didn’t realize how much the environment I was working in had an effect on my productivity until I made a change. Clutter can be distracting and overwhelming. Clean up your work area before you sit down to focus. Keep things organized and include items that you love to inspire you. Maybe you have a candle burning of your favorite scent or a picture hung on the wall of pleasant memories. Turn your office into your happy place.
Tip: Switching up your environment can promote creative ideas. Move your work to a coffee shop when you’re in a rut!
4. Set a Timer
Setting a timer on my phone has been the most effective for me when it comes to getting focused on a specific task. Determine how much time you want to spend on each task, set a timer, and record it. Writing it down holds you accountable and allows you to look back and see your progress.
5. Turn off Distractions
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t actually do any work, which is what many people assume. They may try to interrupt your focus time throughout the day so you need to be clear about your work hours. Turn off any distractions like your phone while you’re in focus mode. When on the computer, only have one tab open at a time so you can better focus on that one task.
Tip: When you aren’t working, do the same thing by shutting down any work distractions and get focused on family time.
6. Focus On The Best Use of Time
Stop yourself throughout the day and ask yourself “Is what I’m doing right this second the best use of my time?”. If not, refocus and move on with the next task. If you aren’t sure which tasks will move your business forward, look to the experts in your industry and take note of what they’re doing. Knowledge is powerful so don’t be afraid to try a new way of doing things that could end up being more productive.
Tip: Forget about being perfect. This is a waste of time and no one will ever truly be perfect. Instead, do the best you can with what you have. Learn from your mistakes and make adjustments as you go.
7. Use Every Chunk of Time
Having hours of focused time to work on your business is ideal but life gets hectic and sometimes we don’t have even 60 minutes a day to ourselves. This is when you make the most of every chunk of time throughout the day. I’m talking while waiting in the doctor’s office, on the bus, waiting in line, or even waiting for your dinner to cook. The time is there in your day, you just have to use it.
Tip: Focus on large tasks when you have more time and save the smaller things to work on here and there throughout your day.
If I hadn’t changed my ways and discovered how to manage my time better, this blog post wouldn’t exist. I had to give up many things I loved to do, including time with my hubby when I first got into the business simply because I had no clue what I was doing and I was wasting my time. Don’t let this happen to you! Your time is valuable and you deserve to live a life of happiness and fulfillment even when you have a lot on your plate. Implement these 7 time management tips to change your life and your business.
Written by Nicole Tinkham
Nicole Tinkham is an online fitness coach and owner of Nicole Tinkham Fitness. Her focus is on helping others live happier and healthier lives through fitness, nutrition, personal development and business ownership. She’s a busy wife, mom of four fur babies and entrepreneur with a passion for cooking, family, blogging, and the great outdoors. To learn more about Nicole, gain motivation to go after your goals and start living a better life, follow her on Facebook where you’ll find inspiration, healthy recipes, helpful tips and so much more. Please feel free to email Nicole about guest blogging on any of her interests as well.