You could spend a lot of time taking time management courses and reading articles available on the subject of time management. Managing time to ensure everything gets done is one of the most difficult tasks faced by home business owners including myself! But are we best served by managing our time or would managing our priorities make us more productive? All of us have only 24 hours in a day to work, play, and sleep. But why do some people move ahead more quickly with their goals than others?
I am convinced that the difference is prioritization: working on the important tasks first versus filling our days with "filler" tasks. We would all be better served managing our priorities each week rather than trying to manage our time.
Are you asking yourself how you make time to prioritize when you have so many things to do? Start the process by making a list of the activities that you do in your business each week (you could do this by keeping a journal for a week or two). Think about which of these tasks are actively bringing in money to your business? Which tasks are attracting customers, strengthening customer loyalty, establishing you as an expert, or growing you into the business owner you want to be? These are the tasks that should be at the top of your list. It is a well researched fact that typically 20% of our tasks act to produce 80% of our income. You just need to define which daily, weekly and monthly tasks fit into your 20% bucket.
Here are a few suggestions to become more priority focused:
1. Make the most of the times in the day when you have the highest energy levels. Get complex and mentally challenging tasks done during your energy highs. During the lows, take care of low priority, routine, or non-challenging tasks.
2. List the interruptions and habits that sidetrack you from important tasks. What can you do to reduce or eliminate distractions? Email and phone calls are very common distractions. Schedule time each day to check emails and take calls and restrict these activities at other times during the day.
3. Review your goals and your 20% tasks at the start of each week and plan important tasks into your schedule for the upcoming week
4. Carry a notebook everywhere to capture your thoughts and write down important tasks
5. Review your notebook and weekly plan each night and prioritize 5-6 tasks that you will work on the next day
6. The next day work on the most important task on your list until it is complete. Then start work on the 2nd, once it is complete start on the 3rd etc.
7.Hold yourself accountable. Take stock of your achievements each night and identify goals or tasks which you completed and which goals or tasks you need to give more attention
8. Asking questions can be an effective tool to help keep you on track. Whenever you are unsure of what to do next, just ask yourself "What is the most valuable use of my time right now?"
9. Learn to say no to low priority requests so that you have time to complete your high priority tasks
10. Can you delegate low priority or routine tasks to a personal or virtual assistant?
Be careful not to over schedule your time as this creates stress! Always remember to make time in your schedule to learn new things and develop your natural talents and abilities. For example, you could take a class, attend a training program, or read a book. Continuously improving your knowledge and skills increases your marketability, can help boost your career, and is the most reliable path to financial independence. Are there some tasks that you know you put off because of fear? Jump on them - sometimes it is the tasks that we put off that could really catapult us towards our goals!