It still amazes me how much some people manage to get done. Many people, including myself at one point, seem to be stuck in a rut without enough time in the day to accomplish what's needed. Is that you? Are you controlling time or is it controlling you?
I realized that everyone has the same amount of time in a day. The same 24 hours. The difference is HOW those hours are used that makes one efficient or not with their time. In this article, I will show 9 ways to take control of your time and accomplish more for 2016!
Track Your Activities for a Week
In order to understand how you can regain control of your time, you need to get a real picture of how you spend your time. Just like when managing your money, you need a full picture of what is happening. Try tracking everything you do for at least one week. Use a small recorder to record (something like Pomedor) when you start and stop any task, and include the time. Alternatively, if you want to disconnect from tech and distractions, just use an old-fashioned pad and paper. Don't change anything for now; just live your life as you do and track your activities. If you miss a few things, that's ok. Just keep tracking and be honest. You won't be fooling your way to better productivity.
Now, look at how you spent your time. Organize each thing that you did into urgent, important, family, fun, and time suckers. Some things that are fun might fall into the category of time sucking and that's okay because you can place limits on some things to still allow yourself to have fun without going overboard into time wasting.
Assign All Important Tasks to
a “To-Do” List Your Calendar
“To-Do” Lists are so 2014. Controlling time means that everything that is urgent and important should be scheduled. Some urgent and important things will also be personal, such as family events. The rule is if you want to address it and remember it, put it on your calendar! Give it the amount of time you think it will take, adding a few minutes for padding to avoid overlap, overbooking, and missed deadlines. To add extra precautions, if you use electronic calendars ensure that your reminders are on. Apps like Google Calendar are great to keep you on track regardless of what device you are on.
Schedule Fun Time
Don't forget to put time for the fun stuff. Fun often goes with family and friends and it is a very important part of your life. Everyone needs time to destress and being a Solopreneur doesn't change this fact. The trick is to schedule the right amount of time and the right amount of fun, without intruding on the important and urgent tasks and activities that you also must do.
Finding the proper balance between your professional and personal lives is essential for a healthy life. You never want to have too much of one or the other and end your year frustrated at what you did not accomplish.
Each Night and Morning Be in Review & Evaluate Mode
End your evening evaluating how your day went. Decide what could be done better, or what needs more or less time to complete. If you do this you will get better at creating and adjusting your Plan of Action. Then begin your morning taking time to look over your daily schedule to remind yourself what is coming up so you don't forget anything. Never rely on just memory or you will easily get off track.
Many times I have found myself being distracted and placed on someone else's schedule because I would not take the time to map out my own day and what I needed to accomplish. When you have no focus, it becomes difficult to reject detours set by the agendas of others.
Create a Plan of Action for Every Activity
Regardless if the plan is for family time, business, something else – if you create a plan of attack for each item in your calendar, you'll accomplish it faster with fewer problems. One of the biggest time wasters is jumping from item to item. Not everyone can multitask and that's ok. Figure out which one you are and work accordingly. Even for multitaskers, you should never overfill your plate or you too will suffer from Overwhelm. Stick to one thing at a time until it's done and you'll feel as if you have a lot more time in your day.
If you find that what you are working on is taking too much time for you to do, outsource it! There is no shame or harm in outsourcing work to someone who can take the time to complete the task to fulfillment and properly. Also, you will have more time to attend other tasks. So why not outsource things that you would need a learning curve for or would not require your personal touch to have completed? Check out places like Fiverr and Upwork and hire some new members to your Power Crew to help you.
Train Others to Respect Your Time
If you already have a business or just launching one, especially if you work from home, you will often find that other people seem to lack respect for your time. Most often freelancers get frustrated with these people, but the real issue is that you've not taught people to respect your time. I learned a neat trick on controlling time from Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, where you can post a reminder to yourself and others (if they visit you in person) and it would simply have “1440” on the reminder. This is to state that you have 1440 minutes in one day to accomplish what you have scheduled. This is simply one way to put people on notice. You are teaching people to respect your time. If you don't who will? If you are not doing this now, it's time to start doing so. Check out Kruse's book to find some more cool tips and tricks to control your time.
Never underestimate the power of delegation for getting more time in your day. This goes back to hiring good people to become part of your Power Crew and a good assistant can almost double your productivity time. So while you can't actually get more time stuffed into your day, remember that everyone has the same 24 hours. Your focus is finding the best ways for controlling time and delegation helps with this. You can create a situation where you “clone” yourself by hiring an assistant or outsourcing some routine tasks such as scheduling advertising, housework, sending emails, handling payroll, or lawn care. There is no such thing as a successful CEO who doesn't delegate. You CAN'T do it all.
Be Realistic about Controlling Time
Finally, controlling time requires you to always be realistic about what can really be accomplished in any given amount of time. No matter how much it may have been your childhood dream, you're not superwoman (or man) – you're just a human who is doing their best to manage the resources they have to excel in business. If something doesn't get done today, move it to tomorrow. You didn't “fail”. As you get better at scheduling, you'll get it down to a science on how long it really takes you to complete any particular task and you'll have fewer days where you don't succeed.
Boss Up with This Rundown
Remember when I asked are you controlling time or is it controlling you? With these simple tweaks in how you organize your day, you will position yourself to have your time under control before February. If there are stumbles along the way, which is expecting when learning new habits, simply start over. Just don't give up on yourself and improving your time control situation.