This is a guest post by Eric Siu.
There’s one constant in life that is common to all of us: decreasing time. Some of the most popular entrepreneurs have stated that one of their biggest daily struggles is not having enough time to finish projects. There isn’t ever enough time to go around so the only thing we can do about it is optimize our time to the best of our ability. After all, you want to make the most of your time here on Earth, right?
Here are 5 tips on managing your time more effectively. Try playing around with a few different methods to see what works best for you!
If you have more than 3 priorities then you don’t have any.” -Jim Collins.
Prioritizing helps you focus on the most important items to get done – the big impact items. Instead of using overwhelming to-do lists to stock all of your items, think about trimming it down to 3 items per day. Here’s what Doc Stoc’s CEO Jason Nazar thinks about excessive to-do lists:
Key Takeaway: For one week, try working on 3 priorities each day and see how it works out for you. It might not be for everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
This leads us to our next point…
2. Trim The Fat
Cutting away the unimportant outputs helps with prioritization. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, can assist with weeding out the less important tasks. The basic premise of the Pareto Principle is that 20 percent of inputs make up 80 percent of outputs. For example, 20 percent of your clients make up 80% of your income. Another example would be Italy in 1906 – where 80 percent of the land was owned by 20 percent of the population.
Key Takeaway: What tasks are bringing in the most positive output? Focus on those. What tasks are have a little to marginal benefit? Eliminate those. Try to do a self-audit each month so you are continually optimizing.
Cutting away less important tasks and honing in on important tasks are just two pieces of the pie. Truly locking down and focusing on the task at hand is tough to maintain on a consistent basis. From e-mail to instant messages to watching funny cat videos online, there are so many land mines of distraction surrounding us. One way to shut out this noise temporarily is to leave everything off when you turn your computer on in the morning. Focus on the most important task you want to get done for 90 minutes – some have stated that this method has been particularly effective in helping them get things done.
Hear more about it here:
Bonus Resource: Ian Lurie from Portent Interactive talks about doing 45 minute sprints where he focuses on one task for 45 minutes and then disengages for 15 minutes to check e-mails and social media. He tries to fit in at least 5 sprints a day. Neat method
Key Takeaway: Focusing means saying no to all the distractions. Try using the two methods above to see how it fits into your workflow. No matter what, it’s difficult to do great work when you are distracted.
The only way to truly know if you’re improving is to track everything. Tracking allows you to hone in on what you need to eliminate from your day to day. As you continue to eliminate the unnecessary, you free up more time to do the more important things. One way to keep track of your activities is to use RescueTime. RescueTime tells you what programs or browser tabs you are logged into most – think of it as your own personal Analytics tool.
Key Takeaway: Find out exactly where your time is being spent. Then analyze the data to see which activities you can eliminate or cut down on. Rinse and repeat.
Organizing is one of the most effective ways to cut down on wasted time because you understand where you need to go without having to wade through daunting road blocks to get to your goals. Ever forget where you put a certain file or folder? Have trouble locating an important e-mail? Can’t find your wallet because you have too much crap cluttered around your desk? Organizing every once in awhile not only helps make your day to day easier – it unclutters your mind from the uneasiness of being unorganized.
Key Takeaway: Take some time to organize your work space and your work machine – you’ll find yourself more at peace. For the things that you don’t use often, eliminate them without mercy.
Here are some tools that will make time management easier for you:
- Fantastical (Mac) – Fantastical is an intuitive calendar that makes it simple to track your schedule – it’s what your calendar should have been out of the box.
- OmniFocus (Mac) – OmniFocus allows you to quickly and easily add your thoughts into actionable to-dos.
- RescueTime – RescueTime is the tool mentioned in the ‘Tracking’ section above – it gives you a detailed look at your weekly activity.
- Evernote – Evernote is a handy note taking tool that allows you to jot down whatever is on your mind. You can create different notebooks for different subjects. My favorite use is finding helpful articles and clipping them using the Evernote Chrome extension. I can then refer to Evernote if I ever want to check out these articles again.
Lost time is something that you’ll never see again so make the most of it when you’re working on something important. Imagine if you were able to save 7 hours a week (1 hour a day) by optimizing your time, that would equate to:
- 28 hours a month
- 336 hours a year (14 days)
- 1680 hours in 5 years (70 days)
What could you do with that extra time? Spend more time with your friends and family? Learn a new hobby? Do something active? Whatever it is, the extra time you’ll get is priceless. Don’t squander it!
What are some other time management strategies that you use?