Maximize Your Productivity – Tips for Mastering Time Management

Most business owners are busy all day (and night) yet never catch up with their to-do list. How can you remedy this? Start by performing a time assessment. For two weeks, track how you spend your time. What did you do today and how much time did you spend on each task? At the end of two weeks, assess where you spent your time. Is the majority of your time spent on tasks that grow the business or bring in more money? Is the majority of your time spent on tasks that only you can perform? By assessing your results, you can see what to delegate and where to focus to achieve for the best results.

Each person has to find the time management tools and tactics that work for them. Here are some thoughts:

  • Group like-tasks together and organize around those tasks: files, emails, etc.
  • Choose one type of organization/scheduling system and stick to it. Use your calendar to schedule work the same way that you would schedule meetings. Being able to set priorities is the key to getting organized and making the most of your time. But how do you set priorities for your day-to-day tasks and activities as well as specific goal action items in order to make sure nothing is slipping through the cracks? I like to use the Urgent-Important activity matrix (shown above) originally developed by time and organizational management guru Stephen Covey. The matrix is based on all tasks being assigned a level of “urgency” and “importance”:
    • Priority 1: Must Do – these goals or activities must be achieved if you are to consider yourself ‘successful’. These are your highest priority goals or activities.
    • Priority 2: Should Do – these goals or activities should be achieved (but it is not essential) to consider yourself ‘successful’. 
    • Priority 3: Nice to Do – these are self explanatory.
    • You may prefer the commonly used “High-Medium-Low priority” terminology.
    • Human nature means that we instinctively act on tasks that are ‘urgent’, whether these tasks are important or not. That’s OK for the tasks that are also important, but the other ones are not necessarily the best use of your time and effort. Start in the lower right matrix box (see matrix above) and follow the green arrow counter-clockwise around the chart. Only after completing all the items in a box, do you proceed to the next box.
    • This matrix can also be used to explain why taking action on goals sometimes gets into trouble. Goals are typically derived from dreams and desires, which by their very nature are not ‘urgent’. Goals are, however, VERY important and their enabling actions need to be elevated in priority over tasks that are not really important. So as a tool for helping you prioritize your action items, start by identifying which part of the matrix each task belongs in, and then manage them as the green arrow shows.
  • Eliminate time wasters:  80/20 rule: 20 percent of your efforts will bring about 80% of your results.  What are the most important things that YOU need to do for success and what can you DELEGATE?  When you delegate, coach your employees and ensure that they have the education and skills to be a success.  Learn to say no.  Meet only when necessary and for the meetings, have an agenda that focuses the meeting.
    • Learning to delegate is perhaps the most essential step in growing a business. Many business owners are reluctant to delegate even if they have the staff on hand to do so. As the business grows, they continue to try doing everything themselves. Here are some of delegation’s many benefits:
      • Delegation creates a culture of responsibility by making employees responsible for results, not just completing tasks.
      • Delegation frees up the entrepreneur’s time to focus on more important growth tasks, rather than day-to-day operations.
      • Employees will be more satisfied and likely to stay with the business because they’re gaining new skills and confidence. Both the business and the employee benefit.
      • The business builds strength by having a “bench” of qualified employees who can handle key tasks. This way, if one person leaves the company, someone else can likely step up to fill his or her shoes. Eventually, delegation paves the way for a succession plan, enabling the entrepreneur to retire or sell the company.

Prioritizing tasks is the key to time management and organization. It is essential if you have any hope of achieving your goals. And don’t forget to document your set priorities in your action plan.

Be sure to download your eBook copy of “Small Business Thoughts Real-Time Strategic Planning“.

Copyright ©John Trenary 2022. All rights reserved.

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