Studies have shown experiencing a chronic feeling of not having enough time, or chronic time urgency, can increase stress levels and induce feelings of anxiety. As more time is spent working remotely, improving time management during the workday can lead to increased productivity and a better work-life balance. Establishing new time management systems as a business owner can also help a team to remain productive without unnecessary strain.
Start by Filtering
Ironically, the most important thing to do with respect to time management has nothing to do with managing your time. Whatever system is in place will be irrelevant if too many tasks are being placed on a calendar. There will not be enough time to complete a monumental list of tasks, and the quality of work will suffer as you juggle to try and fit it all into your day.
When a new assignment or request is issued, ask for details before committing. How much time will it take? Is there a firm end date or deliverable or is this an ongoing ordeal? Thinking through these questions will ensure that this is a worthwhile investment of your time. Saying no is an option often overlooked when a task is presented. By evaluating a task and determining whether you have sufficient availability and the requisite skill set, you can avoid stress for a task that may not align with your goals.
Stay inside the System
As a business owner or entrepreneur, it is important to keep your thoughts organized. Using a system for staying organized increases focus and efficiency and eliminates wasted time. Creating a system in which you are able to control your thoughts and attention by focusing on one task at a time is key to high-level performance.
Once a system is established, the next step is to regularly reconcile everything in your system. Most successful people do this daily, but it is also helpful to do this weekly, monthly and annually. This ensures that you are reprioritizing based on how your tasks have developed. As you filter through tasks, be sure to analyze them to ensure that you are staying focused on what is most important. Refresh tasks so that they are more relevant and avoid mindlessly pushing tasks to a later date. By doing so, you are telling yourself that such tasks are unimportant — when, in reality, that may not be the case.
Be Strategic — Whether in Manager Mode or Maker Mode
One way to ensure that you are using your time wisely is to pay attention to the differences between being a manager and a maker. In manager mode, you are talking with others, problem-solving, and thinking quickly and efficiently. Those in manager mode tend to be most productive when allocating time in units of 45 minutes to connect with people and generate ideas.
As a manager, be strategic in how you set meetings. Instead of giving out your schedule through a calendar-sharing software, tell other people when you want to meet. This will ensure that you allocate your time and energy in ways that allow you to be most productive.
When you are in maker mode, you are alone, creating and thinking slowly. Makers are most productive when allocating time in units of 2 to 4 hours. Each mode employs different tactics to optimize efficiency. When carving out time to act as a maker, turn off text and Slack alerts and place signs on closed doors. This will give you time to think strategically and complete tasks without interruption.
Allan Draper is a business growth expert, entrepreneur, attorney and host of the successful podcast, “The Business Growth Pod.” He specializes in scaling businesses and helping entrepreneurs reach goals with a dedicated approach to business analysis. Draper has contributed to the growth of startups and helped turn them into multi-million-dollar enterprises.