We all are given the same 24 hours each day. How to manage time is a big topic for hustlers and entrepreneurs. Whether you are just starting out or scaling your 6-figure business into a 7, or 8-figure business, time management is key to your success. Right?
While we can all agree that time management is important, listing tasks to do, busy work, and other time wasters don’t add up to as much as you think they do.
The key to improving your time management skills is to know what you should be focusing on. Your focus should be based on your long terms goals. You can avoid distractions, beat procrastination, and increase your productivity. How do you mange time and really seize the day? By focusing on your most important tasks, and finding time for what really matters in your life and your business.
1. Identify Your Most Important Activity
“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” (Lakota Proverb)
People set goals for all sorts of things. Right now you probably have a pile of unfinished tasks on your to-do list. But how many of them do you finish each day?
It is common knowledge that your goals must be specific and measurable so that you don’t waste time. However, you must also take the extra step and identify your primary goal. What will be the focus of your time management efforts?
With this goal in mind, you should then list the activities that will move you closer to your goal. Then you should pick the single most important activity, your MIA, and focus on that. But when is the best time to work on your MIA?
2. Maximize Your Mornings
After you figure out your MIA, you need to make time for it as early in your day as possible. According to cognitive scientists, for most people, the most productive time is the first two hours after waking up. You may not feel like you’re a morning person, but your brain chemistry likely says differently.
Most people squander this morning productivity boost by wasting time on light activities. Reading a newspaper, watching television, or catching up on social media. Cutting out these distractions will help you reclaim a productive slice of your life. Instead, you could use this valuable time at the beginning of the day to do deep work.
There is another benefit of using an early work session to start your day. There are likely to be fewer distractions. Mostly because the people who would distract you are procrastinating this early.
3. Stop Making To-Do Lists
If you ask for time-management tips, one of the most common pieces of advice you will hear is to create a to-do list. The problem is that most to-do items are really just a waste of time:
No duration information
When recording tasks on a traditional to-do list, there is often no way to track duration. You cannot see at a glance which activities will take a couple hours and which will take a few minutes.
They encourage busy-work
Each day, you look at your task list and try to pick an activity to work on. Most of the time you will likely pick the one that seems like the lightest work. The path of least resistance. The problem is this is usually not the activity that is the most important.
To-do lists are stressful
How does it feel to carry around an ever-growing list of work tasks that you have not done? Effective time management should not be punishing. You already do a lot of hard work so you need a time management tool that empowers you.
Create Time Blocks Instead
All the successful people I know run their day from a calendar, not a to-do list. That is because if there is something important to be done then it should be scheduled. It may seem like a minor change, moving from a to-do list to a calendar. But, using a calendar forces you to consider the time it will take to finish a given task. Give yourself enough space to meet your goals and deadlines. This will free your mind and increase your productivity. Follow these four steps and plan when to work:
Schedule time blocks for the everyday things first
What goal is valuable to you? Whatever it is, break it down into the basic actions that you must do each week. Then put these actions in your calendar. If it’s something you need to do every day, set it as a recurring event. No matter how big your goals are, they can be broken down into daily activities that will move you forward.
Save early morning time blocks for your most important activities
We all set our schedules with the best intentions. But, no matter how much we attempt to manage our days, surprises always pop up. Sometimes it seems like as you plan more work, interruptions become more likely. When you plan a time block for the afternoon, it becomes more likely that some other priority will arise. It will seem awfully important, it often will be, and this will divert your attention.
Never cancel on your goals
It is important that you treat every time block as if it were an appointment with someone important. We all hate time wasters when we meet them in daily life. Don’t be that person to yourself. Sometimes something unavoidable comes up. The proper response is quite obvious. You would not casually blow off an important meeting. Instead, you would reschedule. Keep this same discipline for your calendar and respect your time. If you keep practicing, time blocking will become a well-honed time management skill.