Whether you’re a grinding college student, you’re just weeks into your first start-up, or you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, time management is undoubtedly the most important skill you can master.
Learning proper time management techniques will allow you to get more done in less time, spend more time with family, work on new projects, and will ultimately make you more successful in life, and in business.
I started a private investment firm in 2016, and it was wildly unsuccessful.
I lost thousands of my clients’ hard-earned dollars, and even more out of my own pocket. I had the knowledge, skillset, and resources to be successful, so why the miserable failure?
I hadn’t learned how to properly analyze my workload, and manage my time. I was working 50+ hours at my day job, and trying to juggle my responsibilities in an irresponsible way.
By the time I sat down to focus on my clients’ investments, it was my 10th or 11th working hour of the day. I’d already worked out, eaten a day’s worth of food, and changed into some comfortable clothes.
Let’s just say I wasn’t giving them my freshest perspective.
I eventually realized just how much easier and stress-free (not to mention lucrative) life is when you have razor-sharp time management skills. Peter Drucker said “until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”
Implement these time management tips to make you more successful:
What You Will Learn In This Time Management Techniques Article:
- Work with yourself, not against
- Get the worst stuff done first
- Procrastinate responsibly
- Bring your office with you
- Delegate or hire
- Get in the right mindset
#1 – Work With Yourself, Not Against Yourself
The most productive of people know when they are going to be the most productive. They also know when not to work.
You must be realistic and self-reflective about the your own productivity patterns. Some people just get more done at midnight, and that’s perfectly fine! There’s no best way to manage your time, it’s unique to everyone.
The most successful people design their schedules based on their natural tendencies. That’s not to say they don’t adapt when they have to, but they’d rather swim downstream than fight the current.
I do my best work in short, concentrated bursts. I can get a lot of quality work done with an hour of precise, focused effort. After a twenty-minute break I can easily do it again, and I can keep this pattern up all day long.
Some people crush their eight-hour shift, and manage to keep work off their mind while enjoying the other 16 hours of their day. I’m not a member of that particular group of people, though I often envy their resilience.
The point is, it doesn’t matter how anyone else works, only how you can get the most out of your time. Don’t compare yourself to others, or try to manage your time like them – your brain doesn’t work like theirs!
#2 – Get The Worst Stuff Done First
No matter how much you love your job, you probably don’t love every part of your job. Sometimes you have calls, meetings, reports, or charts to make. This probably isn’t what you were looking forward to today, so schedule them first whenever you can.
This is among the most popular and effective time management techniques and for good reason.
You’ll have more energy to push through the mundane tasks, and you’ll have the motivation of looking forward to the fun stuff, which you can concentrate on next!
Schedule as few, and as short of meetings as possible. This is something the world’s best CEO’s agree on, from Jeff Bezos to Bill Gates. Involve only the most absolutely necessary people, and discuss only the most pressing and actionable topics.
Maybe an email can take the place of the meeting altogether, leaving you and everyone else to work on their specific tasks more directly.
If your less-than-desirable work is piling up, maybe you’re just wearing too many hats, and need some help. We’ll talk about that later.
#3 – Procrastinate Responsibly
Few words have more negative connotations than procrastination.
But procrastination isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As long as you’re educated about the amount of time and effort the project will take, procrastination is actually a healthy way to organize responsibilities.
In a sense, procrastination is the act of living in the moment.
You should think about a subject when it’s most pressing, and you shouldn’t put too much effort into it before that, especially when you’re running a business.
Doing too many things at once is a sure-fire way to get nothing done, so try making a list of the things that need to get done, and then organize it by the time when it would be “too late” to do each particular project.
Is the most pressing matter the one you’re giving there most time to currently? If not, it’s a good thing you’re reading these time management tips!
#4 – Bring Your Office With You
Start planning your commutes, and other downtime, in your schedule. You can get a lot done on your phone in 30 minutes if you have a plan bigger than scrolling through Facebook.
Now that you’re making the schedule, every hour of productivity counts, and probably means another hour of family time or sleep.
You never know when an opportunity will present itself, so prepare yourself. Million-dollar sales pitches and ad scripts are written in the notes of iPhones, and hundred-thousand-dollar deals are struck via text message every single day.
Make a list of small tasks you need to get done and try working on them periodically throughout your day, only when you find yourself waiting in line, sitting in an Uber, or scrolling through your newsfeed.
You have more computing power than you need at the tips of your fingers, and mastering these time management techniques can help you focus that power towards something productive.
#5 – Delegate and Hire
Trusting new people is one of the hardest things for new business owners to do.
You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention money) into building your business, and you’re not going to risk it all on someone, just because their resume looks good.
Thinking this way will ensure you never grow beyond what you’re capable of achieving in a day.
You’ll probably have to do most of it yourself in the beginning, but once you no longer have time to focus on the parts of the business you’re most interested in, it’s time to find some help.
You started your business with an ideal workday in mind, and someone out there is passionate about doing the things you don’t enjoy.
You can use resources like Indeed to find employees, but chances are you’ve already worked with someone who you think will make a great first (or next) employee. Reach out to them! If nothing else, they’ll keep you in mind when they need a new job.
Maybe you’d like to start with freelancers before you hire someone full-time. I recommend using Fiverr or UpWork to find the best freelancers.
#6 – Get In The Right Mindset
All the time management skills in the world won’t help you succeed if you don’t have a defined plan, and priorities.
No matter how easy working during your commute seems on paper, it’s very difficult if you hate what you’re doing. So, as cliché as it may be, you have to find something you’re passionate about first.
Because then convincing you to work while you’re on the toilet, or stopped at a red light is easy. In fact, it won’t take any convincing at all, you’ll already want to do everything you can to make it work.
Before you go get a new planner and start thinking about your optimal work schedule, spend some time figuring out what you care enough about to fill all your open time gaps.
With dedication, planning, and proper time management techniques, the sky is the limit for your new, more productive life.
Go get ‘em!