The importance of effective time management in business cannot be overstated. How many times have you poured yourself into a task only to find yourself exhausted and unable to get anything else done? This can be extremely frustrating and can lead to procrastination or burnout.
If you're reading this, chances are you're busier than you'd like to be and are looking for ways to learn how to manage your time. After all, time is the one resource that we never seem to have enough of. That's why it's so important to make the best use of the time that we do have!
What is time management?
Time management is a term used to describe the tools and techniques we use to get more out of our daily schedule. We manage time in all sorts of ways, like planning, organizing, delegating, and holding ourselves accountable. But regardless of which time management system works best for you, there's one thing that's universally true: they are only as effective as the person using them. You need to put in the work yourself and be disciplined enough to stick with your system until it becomes part of your routine.
Time management is also a primary pillar of strong project management. The more efficient you are with your time, the more progress you will make towards your goals.
In this definitive guide, we will explore the best time management tips that really work. Each one is designed to help you keep track of everything that is going on in your life, which will give you some much-needed direction as to what needs to be done now, and what can wait for later.
Why is time management important?
Time is a very precious resource. It is not possible to create more time – we can only manage what we already have available to us. In the business world, time management skills are an integral part of success: many people believe that good time management skills are as important as professional experience.
The advantage of being time management efficient is that it's not just about doing your work in the most efficient manner. It's also about prioritizing tasks to save time in the short term, boost productivity, and avoid wasting time long-term by completing and prioritizing tasks at a given time.
How to get better at time management
Time management is about planning, making better decisions, and prioritizing tasks. When you know how to make better use of your time, you will reduce your stress in the process. You will also be more productive at work and in your personal life.
The following tips for time management will help you to make the most of your time, no matter how much or little you might have. Taking charge of your own time is crucial if you want to achieve success in any area of life.
7 easy time management tips that actually work
1. Evaluate your current schedule
As a business owner, if you want to manage your time better, you need to first find out where you’re wasting your time. Ask yourself where your time is going. Are you spending too much time on the internet, reading emails, posting on social media, or lingering too long on phone calls? Tracking your daily activities to understand how much time you’re spending on each one is a great place to start to improve your time management.
- Conduct a time audit
- Identify gaps
- Focus on productive activities
2. Prepare your daily schedule
If you want to learn how to manage your time at work, you need to start making to-do lists. Before you sign off for the day, create a list of the most important tasks you need to accomplish the next day. Knowing you’ve got everything you need in place will help you feel more prepared. Use time management tools to manage your schedule successfully – Google Calendar for planning your meetings and tasks, Any.do for making lists, AwesomeCalendar for taking notes, Fantastical for great work-life balance, and Microsoft Outlook for document processing.
3. Prioritize important tasks
Staying organized is all about knowing what to keep and what to let go of. As you assemble your to-do list, make sure you prioritize essential and critical tasks based on importance – not urgency. Urgent tasks that require your immediate attention may not always be about accomplishing your goals. You should focus on achieving your business goals, not someone else’s. When you accomplish what’s important for you and your business, you will feel a sense of pride in what you've achieved with your day. Long-term, this feeling should motivate you to stay focused and complete all the tasks on your list.
4. Delegate/outsource work
How you manage time at work depends on how much work you’re taking on yourself. Remember, you don’t have to do everything: no matter how small your business is, make it a habit to delegate your work to staff, contractors, or partners. Small business owners tend to heap too much on their own plate, and it’s often hard to share the workload with others. But to run a successful business, you need to delegate work so you can make the most of your valuable time.
Some common tasks you can delegate or outsource are:
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Website design and development
- Customer/tech support
- Travel planning
5. Avoid distractions at work
Phone calls, text messages, social media, co-workers — distractions can come in all forms. Power off your phone (or put it on “do not disturb”) and forward your work phone to voicemail so you can focus on important tasks at hand. If you’re spending too much time on social media, muster your willpower and close those tabs, potentially with the help of a website blocker. Set time limits for your tasks and reward yourself with breaks for some “me time.”
6. Stay organized
Are you wasting too much time looking for documents or files in your messy office? If you want to make the most of your time management plan, it’s essential to keep your desk and surroundings clean. Don’t waste your valuable time looking for misplaced items – use tools like Signeasy to handle document transactions and store all of your completed files in the cloud (instead of your desk!). Thanks to the easiest eSignature software on the market, you’ll never have to deal with hard-copy paperwork again.
7. Saying no is okay
Our final time management tip for you is: learn to say NO. Running a business is no small task. Don’t hesitate to decline a request from someone else if it means you can focus on tasks that are important for your business. If you don’t have the time to take on a project, don’t be afraid to say no. If you can’t say no, then assign the work to someone else. Keep in mind that your time belongs to you, and you’re always in control!