We all have 24 hours in a day. But why is it that some people can accomplish more than others? Do they sleep less? Do they have a higher IQ? Quite the contrary!
Let’s look at some ways to manage your time so you can get more out of your life and in the process, enjoy it.
In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, our activities can be broken into 4 quadrants:
Stephen Covey used the 4 quadrants to explain how to put “First Things First”. We should do our activities in the following order:
- Firstly, complete important and urgent tasks (e.g. completing an assignment to be submitted the next day) immediately.
- Secondly, complete important and not urgent tasks so that you do not have to worry about them becoming urgent (e.g. study for an examination happing next month)
- Thirdly, complete urgent and unimportant tasks (e.g. answering a telemarketer’s phone call)
- Lastly, complete unimportant and not-urgent tasks (e.g. catching up with friends on social media like Facebook)
2. Eliminate Distractions
Turn your mobile phone to silent mode when you are at work. This will allow you to still receive calls and messages with caller ID display so that you can follow up on them when you look at your phone again.
Check your email inbox only a few times a day. If you have email alerts (which go off with a bell sound), turn them off so that you are not distracted. Batching tasks together like answering emails all at the same time allows you to be “in the zone”; your brain can perform similar tasks optimally due to the learning curve effect. Answering emails one by one and switching back and forth between answering your emails and a different task will break your momentum and decrease your productivity.
3. Eat Your Frog
“The first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog.” – Mark Twain
Your frog is the biggest and most important task for the day. If you eat it up, i.e. complete it as your first task of the day, you would feel a sense of accomplishment and optimism for the day ahead because…what could be worse that day than your frog?
4. Plan Ahead
Never start your day without knowing what needs to be done for that day. The night before, take 15 minutes to write your activities for the day on a piece of paper. Penning your thoughts allows you to refer to them in writing and helps you to keep focus. Also, you should clear your desk at the end of the day as a cluttered desk will make you think subconsciously that you are disorganised and the cluttered items will distract your attention. Lastly, a clean and organised desk will make you feel better and finding office supplies on your desk when you need them will be a breeze.
Alternatively, you may also arrive a few minutes earlier for work to prepare your to-do list for the day.
5. Rest Well
Always make sure that you get 7-8 hours of sleep in the night. Having enough sleep will allow your cells to repair themselves and you will perform better the next day after a good night’s sleep. An alert mind is more productive and you will complete tasks as fast as possible. Never sacrifice your sleeping hours just to squeeze a few more hours of work for that day; you will regret it the next day when you function at a suboptimal level.
Over to you – will you be trying any of these time management tips for small business owners? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Bio: Alex is the author of Cents for Good Sense, a personal finance website which educates readers on being more productive and making wiser financial decisions to achieve more out of life.