Effective time management is an ongoing challenge for many business owners. But did you know that by using a few tips to increase your productivity, you can improve your efficiency as well? Productivity is not only an important component of time management; it will also keep you moving forward toward greater success and profitability.
Consider starting your day with a to-do list. This is a great daily habit to put into practice. Make it fun by using something that appeals to you. Brightly colored pages, whimsical designs or inspirational quotes can encourage you to complete your daily to-do’s.
The point of the list is to simplify your process, so keep it simple. Don’t get caught up listing every detail of every task. You’ll quickly throw yourself right into overwhelm. Just capture the general concept of what your next steps are on each project.
Divide your tasks into three categories and arrange them in this order on your daily list:
- Urgent AND Important
- Urgent (not important)
- Important (not urgent)
Which tasks are the most crucial? You know… the ones that must be done today to keep your world from blowing up. Define these first and put them at the very top of your to-do list. These items have time constraints (thus the potential for overwhelm) and are important to the success of your business.
Next, handle tasks that have a deadline, even if they don’t impact your profit margin or the growth of your business. This helps to eliminate the pressure caused by pending time constraints. Then you can move on to address other tasks. Also, it’s just empowering to be on time!
Finally, with the clock-centric tasks completed, you can use your valuable time and energy to address those items that DO affect the success of your business. And you can do it without the pressure of meeting today’s deadlines. If you don’t get to these today, they can move to the list for tomorrow.
On the surface, this next tip may seem counter-productive. But… spend more time when writing an email or leaving a voicemail for a client or associate. I know, your time is valuable! You barely have time to do it at all. But if you don’t have time to do it once, you certainly don’t have time to do it twice! And dealing with the aftermath of a misunderstood or misinterpreted message will cost you much more time in the long run.
Effective communication goes a long way toward increasing your productivity. So, say what you mean – and be concise. It will help you to avoid confusion over what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and who needs to do it. Take an extra minute or two to increase the likelihood of the request being completed correctly and quickly.
Finally, in all your communications, make any action steps very clear. Generally, others are willing and able to give you what you need and are capable of doing it correctly, if they understand it. When sending an email or leaving a voicemail, consider naming any action steps at the end of your message as a recap to emphasize them.
Last but not least, set solid expectations. Be as precise as possible as to when you need the task completed. And indicated how you’d like to be notified when it’s done. Finally, explain when and through what platform you’ll be following up if necessary. Making sure everyone is on the same page will keep things running smoothly.
I encourage you to find a project management system that appeals to you (Asana, Trello, Monday.com, etc.) and use it. Couple this with your handwritten to-do list. While this may seem repetitive, it can be extremely useful when you’re trying to increase your productivity level. It has done wonders for me and my team by keeping us organized and accountable to ourselves and one another.
Using time blocks to organize your day will help you become more efficient with your time. After all, scheduling isn’t just for your clients – use it for yourself! Create a weekly schedule and do your best to stick to it.
Be realistic with your appointments. Don’t schedule an hour for a meeting you know will only take 15 minutes. Scheduling only the time needed for a particular task will eliminate calendar clutter and will keep you focused.
Set time blocks each week for specific tasks, especially repetitive ones. Group similar tasks together and do them in the same block of time. Studies have shown that when we repeat tasks, we complete them more quickly. So, produce all your invoices once a week in one sitting. Or run all your reports only once a week. Whatever the task may be, schedule a specific time block for it and reduce your distractions.
Give it Away
Another trick to increase productivity is learning to delegate. You don’t have to be a superhero, at least not every day. And you don’t have to hire a handful of employees to be more productive.
Virtual help is abundant these days. It can be a solution for you whether you need help with one task, one project, or on a regular basis. And hiring a freelancer is probably less expensive than you think.
Figure out the tasks that throw you off track the most often. Find a virtual assistant who has experience with that task and let them handle it for you. That way, you can increase your personal productivity by spending time on the more important items.
After incorporating a few of these tips to increase your productivity, you should begin to see your time management strategies become more effective as well. Not only will you accomplish more, but you will feel more accomplished! And a positive mindset can take your business far.