Better time management is the solution to the “I do not have enough time” excuse (one of the oldest ones in the book)
Trust us; we get it; you are busy (so are we). It is easy to get overwhelmed when tasks and commitments seem to multiply by the minute; however, nothing is inspirational about working so hard that you don’t even have time to eat lunch in peace. So, even if entrepreneurship does come hand in hand with constantly having to get things done, this does not mean there aren’t ways to help you get those things done more efficiently. Work smart, not hard is such a famous quote for a reason.
When the creative director for a big fashion brand appeared on a podcast episode saying that “we all have the same 24 hours in a day” and that “if you do not have enough time, you need to make enough time,” it did not sit well with many. Her initial idea was to motivate people who felt they did not have much time to get things done. However, many thought her words were tainted with privilege and that they lacked touch with reality.
We believe there is a lot to unpack regarding this topic, so let’s get to it:
A person with a team of chefs, drivers, assistants, and nannies will probably have more than enough time to focus on building a successful company. This might not be the case for a single mother of four who works two minimum wage jobs. However, regardless of their life circumstances, both hypothetical characters benefit from better management equally.
What is time management?
Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between different activities and how much time to assign to each of them. Not managing our time effectively will probably have you asking yourself these questions by the end of the day: “Where did my time go?” And “Why can’t I seem to complete tasks?” better time management skills will help you take control of your day and reap benefits in your professional and personal life.
Better time management benefits:
- You will have more free time for who and what you love.
- You get to feel better and more accomplished overall.
- You will complete your daily tasks and honor your schedule.
- You can make sure essential commitments do not slip your mind.
- You get to increase your overall confidence by feeling more in control.
Top 20 Techniques for better time management:
Time management skills are learned and perfected with practice. These are the techniques we recommend for controlling how your day is spent and making sure what you need to do gets done (no excuses).
1. Increase your energy levels:
If your energy levels are low, it will be hard to find motivation and strength to improve the areas of your life that need it the most. The best way to ensure we excel is to nurture our bodies and minds.
2. Wake up at least an hour earlier than usual.
The first thing you do in the morning should ideally not be work-related. Make time for yourself, your loved ones, and the things you love before doing anything else. This will make a massive difference and will set a positive tone for the rest of your day.
3. Get enough sleep.
The quickest way to properly manage your time is to be well-rested. No one will provide peak performance while dealing with a lingering “I did not sleep well” headache. Plenty of studies on sleep and mood show how people who rest well are happier, more creative, and produce better results in the workplace.
4. Nourish your body and stay hydrated.
Even the most brilliant minds will have difficulty thriving if the body is treated as an afterthought. Not giving your body the proper nutrients and hydration can lead to serious (and avoidable) health issues that will affect your well-being and might even lead to an early death. What you do daily matters, so please take a break, and pour yourself a big glass of water before you keep reading.
5. Reduce sugar intake.
The rush you get by consuming sugary products will inevitably be followed by a crash. A high sugar intake can lead to high blood sugar, heart disease, etc. (we do not want that).
6. Move your body daily.
In the wise words of Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy”. If you haven’t seen the movie “Legally Blonde,” please add it to your must-watch list (or don’t, we won’t blame you for being more into documentaries than chick flicks). The point is, regardless of your taste in films, making exercise a part of your daily activities is always a good idea. It does not have to be complicated; a short walk around the block or dancing to some of your favorite songs will do.
7. Prioritize your mental health.
Stressful things will happen (especially if you are an entrepreneur). Learning how to deal with these situations is one of the essential skills to master. Give yourself and break and remember that most problems will have a solution, and when they don’t, stressing about them will not help solve them. If you feel uninspired and something is not flowing, try leaving it for the next day. Keep your stress levels low, and don’t let them rob you of your peace.
8. Take time to stop and smell the roses.
Seriously, be more intentional about noticing (and celebrating) the little things, and thank yourself for wanting to improve. That is the first step to producing your most high-quality work and obtaining a work-life balance that feels in alignment with who you are.
9. Ask for help when you need it.
If there is something that surpasses you, be honest and ask for help! You do not have to overextend yourself or take on someone else’s workload to be a successful person. Asking for help does require vulnerability, but it does not mean you are weak or a burden. Allowing others to assist you will open the doors for fresh ideas and new perspectives; it also creates a positive culture that normalizes (and encourages) community and support.
10. Set boundaries.
Not setting boundaries might have us feeling under-appreciated, angry, depleted, and even taken advantage of. A vital self-care skill is learning to say “No” and communicating what is acceptable for you and what isn’t. This will help you create healthier relationships with others and improve your relationship with yourself.
11. Organize and Declutter your space.
It will be harder to be efficient if you spend large amounts of time looking for things that are misplaced. Cluttered spaces can directly impact your concentration, creativity, and focus levels. Getting rid of the things you do not need is a great way to feel better instantly. Doing this regularly will improve productivity and bring order and clarity to your life. Working and living in a pleasant, neat environment that you feel comfortable in is the only way to go, and it will do wonders for you and your performance.
Tidying up will also help ensure your space is clear of mold, dust, pests, and other icky stuff that will affect your overall health and well-being. Taking the time to clean, eliminate chaos, and have everything where it belongs will make it easier to find what you need when you need it, help you decompress, and improve your overall mood.
Listen, life happens, and it is unrealistic to expect perfection 100% of the time. So please remember that the point is not to go overboard and allow this to become an obsession. As long as you make sure your space feels safe, clean, and inviting to you, there is no need to hyper-fixate on the minor details.
12. Minimize Distractions:
You won’t get much done if your favorite TV show is playing in the background or if you are scrolling on social media all day. To properly focus on the tasks ahead of you (and avoid unnecessary extra work), you must keep your distractions to a minimum. This does not mean you must cut out all your day’s fun. We also need to answer personal text messages and phone calls and love to catch up on memes (they are instant mood boosters and help humanity cope with life and express their emotions). However, if something requires your full attention, do yourself a favor and put your phone in silent mode.
You can’t expect to be productive if your day is packed with more distractions than actual work. The key is to be intentional. Commit to a task, focus on getting it done, and take a well-deserved break after you have completed it. Then keep going until all your to-do items are completed. Set a specific time for leisure and what brings you joy, and make sure you balance your daily activities (both personal and professional).
13. Prioritize (use the Eisenhower Matrix)
Not all things are equal in importance, and Dwight Eisenhower (34th American president, former army commander, and overall super productive guy) was aware of this. During his two terms as president, he created NASA, led the construction of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, included Hawaii and Alaska in the union, ended the Korean War, and came up with the Eisenhower Matrix.
How did he manage to get all this done? By being crystal clear on the difference between urgent and essential.
His matrix is designed to help prioritize and delegate tasks based on their level of importance. This tool is quite simple, and implementing it results in better time management by helping you discern the most important work and what needs your immediate attention.
It works by organizing your tasks into four main quadrants:
– Urgent and important tasks/ projects that need to be completed first.
– Not urgent and important tasks/projects that can be scheduled later.
– Urgent and unimportant tasks/projects can be delegated to someone else.
– Not urgent and unimportant tasks/projects that you can be deleted from your list.
Use this matrix to find the easiest ways to get more done and avoid falling into the “urgency trap.”
14. Eat the frog first:
This method was created by Brian Tracy, a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and author of over 80 self-development books. It consists of tackling the most critical, complex, and time-consuming task before all others.
The following quote inspired him:
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
So, please list your frogs (the biggest ones go first) and eat them for breakfast! Please pour yourself a cup of coffee in our honor while you do (you already know that at The Bean Online, we love java).
15. Pomodoro Technique:
This technique was designed in the 1980s by a student, Francesco Cirillo, who had trouble concentrating on his schoolwork. The method works using focused time intervals of 25 minutes called “Pomodoros” (tomatoes in Italian). Instead of relying on your memory, you set a timer that notifies you when the 25 minutes are up. After this, you take a 5-minute break to clear your mind and do non-work-related activities. Once the 5 minutes are completed, you focus on a new 25-minute time chunk. After 3 or 4 Pomodoros, you give yourself a more extended break of fifteen minutes to half an hour.
The rule applies regardless of whether you finish what you must do in those 25-minute chunks. If you are not done, take your break; if you are done, use the remaining time to learn something new or get started on something work-related.
16. Make discipline your best friend:
Discipline is using reason to determine the best course of action regardless of your desires. Motivation may not be there every day; however, if you commit yourself to be disciplined, that won’t matter. You will still show up and do what you have to, regardless of whether you feel like it. Discipline will require you to make small sacrifices in the present for a better life in the future. This level of accountability and self-restraint is something you can gift yourself that will make you feel empowered and help you achieve your life goals.
17. Set goals and an intention for your day.
A great way to set goals and an intention for your day is to take time to journal. This will help you unravel what you want your day to look like, what you need to achieve, and how you would like to feel. Doing this regularly will help you focus and guide your mind in a positive, intentional direction.
An intention can be simple or broad. Here are some examples of what daily intentions can look like:
- Keep in mind that life is also what happens outside work.
- Build a life that brings makes me feel proud and happy.
- Be thankful for the process instead of stressing over results.
- Be compassionate with myself if I make a mistake.
- Stay present and connect with my loved ones.
- Learn something new that brings me joy.
18. Productivity apps
These tools are specifically designed to help you stay organized and increase productivity. Their main objective is to help an individual or a team get more done in less time while maintaining order and structure. If you are wondering if these will work for you, it will all depend on which ones you select. A wide array of productivity apps are available for free or monthly/yearly rates.
Make sure you only use the ones you need; if you have ten different apps on your phone designed for roughly the same purpose, you will probably get overwhelmed and not use any of them.
Check out our tool kit to find some of our suggestions to make your workload more manageable and efficient.
19. Be mindful of your habits
A habit is any behavioral pattern that is created by being repeated with regularity. Creating a routine that you enjoy and works for you. To ensure that our goals are achieved, we need to work on curating our daily habits and modifying them if they are not ideal.
Forming a new habit is not easy; it takes effort and commitment. To reprogram our minds and develop new habits, first, we need to decide what these new habits will be; then, we need to undergo an adaptation process and be disciplined about repeating it enough to set it. The notion that it takes 21-28 days to form a habit is not based on scientific data. The time it takes to develop a habit is not set in stone and can take days, weeks, months, or even years, depending on the practice and its level of complexity.
Some of the things you can do to assist you in setting a new habit are sharing your intention of building this new habit with someone who can act as your accountability partner. Other ways to motivate yourself to stick to your new habits are positive reinforcement, envisioning yourself acing the latest pattern, and rewarding yourself when you do.
20. Get a Planner!
We strongly believe that everyone should have (and use) a planner. It is an effective time management tool and serves as a place to keep records of specific tasks and essential information. A planner will help you stay productive and finish your assignments on schedule while remaining organized and on top of what needs to be done next.
You can choose to go for a digital planner, a paper planner, or both. Your selection should be based upon personal preference and on what fits your individual needs the best.
These are great for those of us who spend a significant portion of our day in front of a computer screen or working from our phones. They can be easily accessed and synched across devices is also very convenient. If you are a digital nomad, having a digital planner is also a way to ensure you travel light.
One of the main benefits of digital planners is that they will allow you to set reminders and alarms to ensure nothing slips your mind. Many of them come with free trial periods so that you get a chance to find something you genuinely feel comfortable with before you make a final decision.
Yes, they may be retro, but sometimes that is a good thing. Physical planners might also take up more space in your bag, but to some people, the tactile experience that writing represents is incomparable. There is something inherently special about taking the time to write something down on paper. Harvard studies show that writing things down is better for retention than typing them when learning and taking notes. Even if your handwritten notes might look like hieroglyphics to someone else, they can be more beneficial to you than what shows up on a digital planning app. This happens because typing on a keyboard is more automated and less intentional.
Regardless of your format, having a planner will be a guaranteed game-changer for better time management. When it comes to managing a business, planning will help you determine what actions and steps need to be taken to achieve your desired results and prioritize essential activities. Planners will also help you assign said actions to the appropriate individuals (thus saving you time, effort, and money).
Wrapping it up:
Proper time management can (and will) take you very far! We can all improve our time management skills by implementing these techniques (no, reading about them is not enough). Doing this makes it possible to turn our busy routines into smarter ones, find work-life balance, and shift from “I never seem to have enough time” to “I got this covered!”. This will improve our chances of becoming (or remaining) successful people and successful business owners.
We know all this is easier said than done but remember that all great journeys begin with a first step (even if it’s a small one).
Are there other systems you use to stay organized and manage your time more efficiently? Let us know in the comments! We would love to learn what has worked for you and your entrepreneurial journey.