“It’s about working smarter, not harder.”
We’ve all heard this saying before but to be honest, a lot of us have a hard time executing it. I’ve had those days where I feel like I’m working my butt off, only to realize that I got nothing accomplished. This is why time management is so important. Effective time management skills will allow you to achieve your goals, get stuff done, and help you grow your business or side hustle faster.
After lots of trial and error, I’m proud to say that I’m able to manage my time effectively. And to help you work smarter, here are my 10 favorite time management tips that will help you get more done in less time.
10 Tips for Effective Time Management
Time management is the process of controlling and planning what you spend your time on. Having good time management skills allows you to get more done throughout your day in a shorter period of time. Whether you’re a student or a business owner, effective time management will help you focus on the important tasks. You can get more done in less time by…
Setting Goals and Breaking Them Down
We all have huge goals we want to accomplish. However, larger goals often never get met because they’re too much to chew off all at once. Instead, set that large goal and break it down into smaller, more digestible goals. Assign realistic due dates for these smaller goals and stick to them.
Let’s say you have an important project like launching a blog. The actual launch is the large goal at stake. You can break that down into smaller actionable tasks and giving them realistic due dates, such as:
- Choosing a theme (3 days)
- Build your necessary pages (1 week)
- Writing your first 5 blog posts (3 weeks)
This technique is applicable to any important task that can be broken down into smaller, actionable goals. Give yourself an ample amount of time to accomplish each small goal, and set time limits to keep yourself accountable.
Time Block in Google Calendar
This time management method divides your day into blocks of time. Each block represents a certain amount of time dedicated to a specific task at hand. To do this, start by blocking things that happen every day into your calendar. For me, those things are emails and checking in with my team.
It is important to be strategic and not reactive in your business. Reactive tasks are important, but they do not move your business forward. These reactive tasks include responding to clients, emails, and Instagram management. To make the most of your time, relegate all reactive tasks to specific daily time blocks.
Once you’ve blocked out time for reactive tasks, you’ll want to block off portions of your day to dedicate to your goals. This is where you’ll input the time needed every day towards your small tasks that’ll ultimately help you reach the larger goal.
Here’s an example of what my Google Calendar looks like:
Use a Concentration Tool
Let’s face it — we can all get our goals and calendars organized, but being able to concentrate is another thing entirely. This is why I recommend using tools like the Pomodoro Method or a time blocking cube. Here’s how they work:
Pomodoro Method: This technique encourages you to work with the time you have. It breaks your workday into 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks. This cycle is called a “Pomodoro”. After you’ve completed 4 Pomodoros, you can take a longer break (15-30 minutes) before resetting your count back to zero. I use this Chrome Plugin to help me keep track of and time my Pomodoro sessions.
Time blocking cube: Similar to the Pomodoro Method, a time blocking cube is a wind-up timer with 4 different intervals. You can choose from 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes. Wind it up and start focusing on your task before the timer rings.
Focus is key to making the most of your time. Unfortunately, distractions are rampant especially for business owners working from home. Although limiting distractions often means having discipline and strong will power, there are certain things you can do to ensure that you’re keeping distractions at bay.
First, identify what your major distractions are. For instance, if you’re easily distracted by your phone, keep it in a different room and put it on silent to avoid any unplanned phone calls. If you know you won’t be able to focus unless you get your kitchen cleaned, make sure to tackle it before you start your day. And if you’re working from your laptop, do not have Facebook or any unnecessary windows open (yes, this includes a window to your inbox as well).
Use a Project Management Software to Keep Organized
A project management software will help you plan, organize, and manage all your business tasks and goals. Think of it as a hub for all your business’ to-dos. Most of them are completely customizable to suit your business’ specific needs. And if you have a team, it’s a great way to manage and track your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and progress.
Project managers often work with software like Asana, Trello, Start Infinity, and ClickUp — as they all allow for:
Personally, I use ClickUp as it allows me to delegate tasks to specific team members easily. It also allows for easy communication within the app through comments and chats. ClickUp also has the ability to track tasks at different stages from start to completion.
Say No to Events, Opportunities, and People Who Do Not Serve You
One of the most important things business owners and entrepreneurs need to learn is how to say no. There may be opportunities that do not serve you or your business and saying yes to them will take up your precious time. If you’re presented with an event or meeting, sit down and evaluate its purpose. Will it serve you and your business? Is it something that could be communicated through email? Will it move your business forward or is it a waste of time?
Remember, your time is valuable. Managing your time efficiently means setting clear boundaries.
As business owners, we have the ability to do anything. But there aren’t enough hours in the day for us to do everything. As your business grows, you need to get comfortable with the idea of outsourcing. What are the tasks in your business that you’d rather not do but are taking up time? If you’re a blogger but Pinterest isn’t what you enjoy, outsource it and hire a Pinterest manager. Similarly, you could hire a virtual assistant to help you take care of the administrative end of your business. Outsourcing will allow you to focus on the needle movers in your business. If you don’t know where to start, consider outsourcing all the reactive tasks by hiring a virtual assistant or social media manager.
List Things in Order of Importance
If you’re breaking down your larger goals into smaller ones, you could reach your large goal faster by ranking these smaller tasks by level of importance. For example, if you’re launching your blog and building your email list, there are certain tasks that are immediately more important than others.
Making sure your blog goes live before creating your freebie is one of them. In this case, you need to tackle the immediate tasks like setting up your site (choosing a hosting platform, picking a domain, etc). Although it’s important to start working on your freebie, you won’t be able to get your blog readers to download it if you don’t have a blog in the first place. Similarly, ranking the importance and urgency of your task can help you decide what you need to outsource.
Suneera Madhani, an 8-figure entrepreneur and founder of the wildly successful Fattmerchant, swears by this method. You can hear how she organizes her tasks by ranking their level of importance in this episode of Her Life, By Design.
Do Not Multitask
I know how tempting it is to leave your inbox open on a tab as you work on the task at hand. Multitasking is a huge waste of time because it distracts us from what is currently most important. Instead of attempting to do it all, zone in and hyperfocus on what you’re currently working on. This will ensure that you get the most out of the least amount of time. And if you’re using the Pomodoro Method, you could always use your 5-minute breaks to check in on anything that may be bugging you.
Review Your Day
Once you’re done with everything on your agenda, take some time at the end of the day to review what worked and what didn’t. This is a great time for you to make adjustments to your schedule before you start work the following day. When you sit down to review your day, reflect on details like distractions and how much you were able to get done in an allotted amount of time. Or if you’re trying any (or all) of these tips, figure out what worked, how much time you were able to save, and how you can make adjustments for a more productive tomorrow.
Work Less and Grow Faster
We all have the same amount of hours in a day. But some of us are able to accomplish way more because of great time management skills. In the digital age, it is now easier than ever to give in to distractions. From browsing through social media to picking up unscheduled phone calls, we don’t realize how much time we’ve wasted until the day is over. Start managing your time effectively by implementing these 10 tips. Not only will you find yourself working less, but you’ll watch your business and side hustle grow with the increase in productivity.