Distractions are everywhere these days. With new apps, TV shows, gadgets, publications, and social media options, our attention is in high demand. As a business owner, time is your most valuable asset. And with promising spring and summer months ahead, it makes sense to invest some energy right here and now in reevaluating the way you structure your time. So, how can you create a systematic approach to managing all your competing business, family, and social demands? Here are a few proven methods that can help.
BREAK IT DOWN
The best way to gain control over your time is to get some perspective on how you operate through some simple observation. Tracking daily activities by simply logging time spent on various tasks is a great way to get a general sense of what is taking up your time. Then, once you notice large swaths of time dedicated to seemingly endless projects, it’s time to start to get more specific with your analysis.
One of the most useful time management skills is developing the ability to break your complex obligations down into small, manageable operations. Cutting those enormous burdens into tiny executable actions makes them easier to wrap your head around and allows you to flow from one to the next without feeling overwhelmed or losing track of time.
Another valuable method for tracking and prioritizing tasks is the A-B-C-D-E method. The process works like this:
- Tasks You Must Do – crucial tasks that have significant and immediate consequences
- Tasks You Should Do – essential tasks that have mild or long-term consequences
- Tasks You Could Do – tasks that can help you but have no apparent consequences
- Tasks You Delegate – tasks that you will delegate to others
- Tasks You Never Do – tasks that you can eliminate because they neither help you nor have any consequences
Once you have broken down your obligations in this manner, the idea is to complete all of A before moving on to B, and so forth.
With modern technology, the temptation to multitask is strong. Nowadays, it’s not unusual to see someone in a coffee shop eat, drink, click through multiple web browser tabs, start to send an e-mail, and then stop to respond to a text. But one thing that gets lost in this frantic obsession with attacking all our responsibilities at once is the focus it takes to start, fully understand, and complete an assignment.
One way to avoid the temptation to bite off more than you can chew is to cluster similar tasks together. If you can break down your day into e-mail related tasks, followed by a series of meetings with your sales team, and end with a block of organizational tasks, you can move through your to-do list in each block without having to shift your mindset wildly.
Even though it’s vital to assess and organize your time, obsessing over the details of your day too much can lead to exhaustion and unrealistic expectations. Scheduling every single waking moment will inevitably lead to burnout, so it’s essential to build open time slots into your week. Use these to relax, reflect, and, if possible, simply let your mind wander. Many creative individuals maintain that their best ideas pop into their heads when their minds are simply free to roam.
Whether business is good or bad, the energy we put into this moment will determine the next. If you want to feel more focused and energized instead of overwhelmed, start by implementing one or two of these methods over the next few months and you’ll be surprised by how much more time you have for the things that matter most.