As the saying goes, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, but in business there are times when that just doesn’t seem enough.
So how can you accomplish all you need to in order to stay on track?
That’s where some effective time management techniques can be invaluable, so let’s walk through 10 things you can do every day to stay on track.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique sees you break your day down into 25-minute chunks of time with a 5-minute break in between.
It’s a deadline-driven approach that sees you work with the time you have, rather than against it and the idea behind it is that it creates a sense of urgency, allowing you to accomplish a whole lot in a short time-frame.
Here’s exactly how it works:
- Break your day down into 25-minute blocks (these are known as pomodoros).
- After each pomodoro, take a five-minute break.
- Once you’ve completed about four pomodoros, take a longer break of about 15-20 minutes.
Audit your time
Often you feel like you have endless time in a work day, and believe tasks can be quickly accomplished. But the reality is, some tasks extend far longer than you anticipate or perhaps you get sidetracked with other unnecessary tasks.
This is where it pays to create a time log to work out exactly where it’s being spent.
You can do this on paper, using a spreadsheet, or via a time tracking app, but either way it will quickly illuminate the tasks which are chewing into your time each day and affecting your productivity.
Similar to the Pomodoro Technique, time blocking sees you break your day down into chunks for the tasks that matter the most.
However, it’s slightly less rigid than working in 25-minute blocks and factors in the amount of time you might need to spend on a set task.
For example, it might see you allocate one hour to making phone calls to clients, then 15 minutes to checking emails, followed by half an hour of marketing activity.
If you’re using this technique, don’t forget to allocate a set amount of time each day to the miscellaneous items that might happen to pop up beyond your routine tasks.
The benefit of this technique is that it allows you to work undistracted. Rather than flitting from one task to another, you stay focused on a specific activity for a set period.
The 80-20 rule
The 80-20 rule says that 80 per cent of your results come from just 20 per cent of your work activity.
In other words, the most important tasks in your business day tend to yield the best results.
As you block time or work through a to-do list of what needs to be achieved, start with the tough jobs that demand a high level of concentration and are non-negotiable and set a specific time of day that these will be achieved.
Know your dollar productive activity
This tip plays in to the previous one. You should know exactly what tasks each day yield the highest results.
Chances are these are your dollar-productive activities. In other words, these are the tasks that bring in the highest amount of current and future revenue for your business.
This dollar-productive tasks will differ from industry to industry, but often involve working on your pipeline of future sales and successful time management involves devoting set periods to them.
Start your day the night before
If you’re looking to get super-productive this is one of the best tips available – start your day the night before.
Basically, this involves writing down a clear list of exactly what you hope to achieve the following day, then setting the time-frames in which you will do it.
Group similar tasks together
Did you know a whole lot of time is lost when you shift from one task to another? That’s because you have to ‘change gears’ and get in a fresh mindset for the new task at hand.
If you’re looking to get super-productive, try grouping similar tasks together then work your way from the hardest to the easiest using the time blocks you have allocated.
Break it down
Sometimes a task is going to take a fair amount of time, and it won’t be possible to accomplish it in a few hours or even a day.
If you’re working on a larger tasks, break them down into bite sized chunks each day, so that you are progressively getting closer to your goal.
Use time management tools
Finally, there are a wealth of great time management tools available to help you track your time and stay on task.
These range from time tracking apps, to planners, good old-fashioned list and simple timers.
Find the ones that work for you and use them to ensure you stay on track each and every day.