Time is your most valuable resource. Here's how to use it wisely and effectively.
As an entrepreneur, your time is your most valuable resource. Successful leaders must learn to manage it wisely. You've probably heard the phrase, "There's no time like the present," and, indeed, the only moment we can truly control is the current one.
Fortunately, there are daily habits anyone can develop to make time management a simpler, more effective process. By reframing how you approach each day, you can make your next 24 hours more productive. The secret is to be proactive about the activities you schedule.
1. Focus on activities that really matter.
We each have to make choices about how we spend our time. Aligning your schedule with your priorities enables you to do more of the things that count. If you haven't thought about your core values recently, taking an opportunity to do so will guide your time-management strategy.
Consider how your daily activities relate to your goals. Do the tasks on your to-do list reflect the things that are most important to you? To better manage distractions, choose a few top priorities to focus on each day. Most of those will likely be activities that are both urgent and important.
Don't spend time on less-critical tasks unless your "must-do" list is complete.
2. Put your health first.
Many entrepreneurs work long hours in an effort to accomplish more, but sustaining that pace is very stressful. Getting caught up in burnout culture jeopardizes your goals by compromising your mental and physical health. When you make your wellness a priority, it benefits both your home and work life.
Your personal health and happiness should always have a place on your calendar. While you may not have time to take an extended vacation or spend an hour at the gym each day, you can probably squeeze in a walk outside or a regular dinner with friends.
Investing in your wellness helps control stress, which has been shown to lead to higher productivity.
3. Add structure to your day.
Think of your daily schedule as investments you are making to advance your goals. When we save for retirement, most of us seek to automate those savings as much as possible. Taking a similar approach to time management makes room for the activities that will make you more successful.
If there is a task that you need to perform regularly, create a block for it on your calendar. Reserve time to respond to emails, make phone calls and maintain relationships. Developing routines enables you to be more consistent and highlights opportunities where you can adjust your schedule to accommodate changing priorities and one-off activities.
Scheduling daily activities helps you focus on the task at hand. While many people believe that multitasking saves time, switching between different activities frequently breaks your concentration and, ultimately, makes each task take longer.
Try blocking off time for each task and completing one before moving on to the next.
4. Learn when to say no.
Taking advantage of the right opportunities helps you and your company grow, but saying yes too often can lead to an overcrowded schedule. Successful entrepreneurs proactively decide what activities to pursue, rather than reacting to other people's priorities. Whenever you receive an invitation, ask yourself whether it fits your goals.
Don't be afraid to say no if an opportunity doesn't work for you. Managing the number of activities you participate in ensures that you have the time and energy required to be fully present for each of them. If you need to accomplish something but your calendar is full, consider whether you can delegate it to someone else on your team.
5. Manage your own expectations.
Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day. For many entrepreneurs, it is difficult to strike a balance between of all of their competing priorities. You can achieve great things, but you can't do them all at once.
If you are continuously booked from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep, you probably need to rethink the way you approach your schedule. Strive for quality over quantity in your daily work. Only commit to those activities that you have time to do well.
Remember to give yourself credit for all of the things you accomplish every day. While perfect efficiency doesn't exist, by developing good habits and practicing them consistently, you can improve your time management and feel more in control of your schedule.