Top 4 Time Management Tips: Productivity

Time is money.

And that’s about all there is to it. As a business owner, you need to improve your productivity, so that you can increase your profit. But keeping a cool head when you’re running the show can prove one of the biggest challenges. So take a deep breath and a step back.

1 Plan your day

Take half an hour or so at the beginning of every day, to assign yourself a structured To-Do list. Ask yourself:

  • What needs doing before the end of the day?
  • How long will it take to complete each task?
  • How many tasks can you realistically tackle, and produce a high quality end result?

Schedule in time for interruptions and breaks, so that when things go wrong, or you feel you’re running out of steam, you can take time away from what you’re doing without feeling guilty.

There are several day planning tools out there, whether you keep things traditional, or if you prefer to ditch the paper trail:

  • Paper daily diaries. Why try to reinvent the wheel when paper diaries are no better or worse than electronic planners. The FiloFax ruled the 80’s, but retro is so now!
  • Excel printable daily planner. If you feel that the leather bound option is a bit pricey, you can create your own daily planner using the free printable daily planner for Excel.
  • Schedule planner app. This paid app works for your iPhone, your iPad, Android or Kindle. It offers a range of features. From customisable alerts and notifications you can set for really important tasks, to cut, copy and pasting tasks to allow you to manage your tasks more effectively.
  • Wunderlist. This app is free! And is compatible with any device: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac and Web. You can even sync your data across all your devices.

2 Measure the value of a task

It seems that every time you cross off a task on your To-Do list, two or three more crop up to take its place.

But by measuring the value of the tasks you assign yourself, you can prioritise which are more urgent, and which are just adding to your workload.

Ask yourself why you have assigned yourself a certain task.

  • Does it need to be completed asap?
  • Can it be delegated to someone else?
  • What are the benefits of the task being completed quickly?

The Time Doctor recommends that you measure your tasks in time and money. How much is each task worth in “pounds and pence,” and how much of your valuable time will it take? Importantly, what does this task contribute to your business objectives?

3 Assign deadlines to yourself

Working to deadlines keeps you focussed. Everything has to end sometime. Set yourself a date or time that a particular task or priority will cease to rule your life.

Deadlines are important because they help us visualise the end of a process. You can plan how you will carry out the task, by breaking it down into stages, and deciding how long it should take you to complete each stage.

You can do this by giving yourself several mini deadlines. Working to each of those will make your large deadline seem smaller and more manageable.

Remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

4 Take regular scheduled breaks

Recharge. Don’t see taking a break as time-wasting. Jason Nazar, contributor to Forbes, recalls that while he was still in his twenties, he “prided” himself on staying in the office long after everyone else had taken off, working into the wee hours on a regular basis.

“I thought I got so much work done in those hours long after everyone else was gone. But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done, not the more complicated strategic planning, phone calls or meetings.”

We are more productive after we take a break. A good night’s sleep, or ten minutes for a quick coffee can set you up with a fresh pair of eyes when you come back to readdress the problem.

Find out what works for you

Our top tips have been selected as a guideline to help you streamline your own productivity when running your business. They are by no means universal, and you will soon discover what works for you.

Experiment with some of these ideas, and share your own with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+

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