3 Time Management Techniques to Speed Up Success for Entrepreneurs!
Time management is a myth.
You didn’t think I’d say that two seconds into this post, didja?
I sure did – and I’ll explain here in a second…
But I know what you’re thinking:
if I am claiming that time management is a myth, that must mean that techniques to manage your time are also considered blasphemy, right?
Let’s take an adventure down a path what happens when you don’t take time management techniques seriously, and then I’ll take you on an adventure about a myth, a man, and a legend about three productivity saving techniques you can use to manage your time.
You can imagine your desk is filled with random piles of papers everywhere,
post-it notes all over on your desk and computer screen,
your phone is ringing off the hook, yeah I know cell phones don’t have hooks,
there’s too many notifications that you can’t see them all,
your computer has random dings going off all the time,
and maybe there’s even a dog barking and a fire alarm for some strange reason…
Not fun, right?
You’re getting stressed just thinking about it, I know, me too!
In fact, I used to kind of be like that. Not so much that type of frazzled Betty, but similar. Like floundering in business tasks, not knowing what to focus on or what’s most important.
Better yet – when the list was too overwhelming, I’d just give up altogether in what we now know as analysis paralysis!
But now, I’m an organized Charlotte!
Ahem – mostly organized….I AM human, ya’know?
Here’s what an organized Charlotte looks like.
Every day you wake up and you know exactly what tasks to focus on that will move your business engine forward.
You even have time to spend basking in the glorious warmth of a fresh cup of coffee without something nabbing you out of your peacefulness first thing in the AM!
You know what to do first, what you’ll be doing in the next month or so, and you still have flexibility so during lunch you can take that extra hour and go shopping at TJ Maxx like you’ve been wanting to do for the last couple of weeks.
Huzzah – everything is done, taken care of, and you don’t have to feel stressed about not being at work because you’ve put in your time.
You can focus on your personal life now – during business hours like you’ve always dreamed!
Ahhh – nice and relaxed!
So how do we get there? We’re going to take a journey…
In this post I’ll outline three techniques that are guaranteed to improve your productivity, explain what time management really is and what the heck time management really means for you and Beyoncé.
I’ll also show you how you can start working towards that in your business!
After the post, you’ll be an organized Charlotte, and then the time gods will reward us by letting us go out for coffee (no guarantees that Beyonce will make an appearance).
Ready? Let’s go!
1 | Determine What You’re Doing with Your Time
First steps in learning how to get the Time Gods to give us more time is to learn about time, managing it, and figure out a thing or two about what being productive really means.
Then we can get to the good stuff about how to actually become super A+ organized with the least amount of effort possible.
Just the simple act of knowing how you spend your time in a realistic way, by being honest with yourself, can skyrocket your productivity.
You’ll start to notice that, hey, you’re right, maybe I’m spending a little bit too much time on my phone. Or, maybe I don’t need to watch 8000 hours of Shark Tank.
Let’s change that!
Time Management is a Myth
First, what does “time management” even mean?
Does it mean using annoying planners and appointments and maybe even those bullet journals that you have sitting in the corner but haven’t really used?
Mmmm no, but Grant Cardone of 10x says it’s a total myth.
– Gasp! –
“How dare he!” All the productivity gurus are screeching right now.
What does he mean by that?
Well, since we all have the same amount of time in the day and time is going to pass no matter what, we can’t really manage time.
It’s going to pass anyway.
It’s not going anywhere no matter what we do.
Everyone has the same amount.
What he really means is realizing what we’re currently doing with our time.
In other words, how are we managing ourselves?
Side note: Right now there’s a quote about how we all have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce and look how well she’s doing.
There’s some people who are like, “Well she has assistants and she can afford them so of course she gets a ton of stuff done.”
But I call B.S.!
Living that way is a scarcity mindset.
Each person still has the ability to utilize the tools that they already have to manage themselves and their actions.
Even if you have a few dollars, you can still hire someone to take over that task and gain back time for it. Or, you can choose not to, and save the money. It’s simply perspective.
Rinse and repeat, my friend. We all still have 24 hours a day.
Now back to Grant Cardone. He recommends writing down how you’re spending every single second of your day to figure out where those gaps are that you don’t realize are there.
In fact, it reminds me of a book where Darren Hardy wrote down exactly every cent he spent for a month.
Now, I don’t recommend doing that for a whole month. I imagine you’d have like 100 lines in your notebook that all say you spent time writing in a notebook on how you’re managing time.
That wouldn’t be an effective use of time, would it?!
But what would be good is to write down for one or two days every once in a while, how you’re spending your time, down to the second (yep, Grant really said to the second)!
I’m going to give you a break and say nah – minutes are probably just fine. It’s the idea of the exercise, not the SATs.
You could be spending 10 minutes here and there throughout the day checking your phone but adding that up could be an hour and a half that you could have written that blog post.
I can hear you saying, well, I know where most of my time went because I spent 8 hours at work, 15 minutes getting ready in the morning, etc..
But I can say this: I bet you don’t realize how much TV you’re actually watching. In fact, I bet you are watching at least 1 hour of TV per day, which amounts to 7 hours per week! Almost an entire workday!
And If you’re anything like the Netflix binger I know you to be, you’re definitely watching at least three episodes of something. Who watches one episode of something? That’s like eating one Pringle!
So for those 3 episodes of The Great British Baking Show per day at 54 minutes per, that’s 18.9 hours of binging per week.
And I bet Beyonce doesn’t even watch TV.
That’s literally, a part time job.
Which brings me to my second point of getting clear about what you’re doing with your time – think of your time as money.
Time is Money
Yeah, they all say time is money because in business, if you’re wasting time that’s money going down the drain.
But there’s a reason why that saying has stuck around and there’s a reason why it’s so important.
Try to think of the minutes and hours as dollars as cents.
If you knew that you had a particular number of dollars left in your bank account, you would probably try to utilize all of that and stretch your dollars as effectively as possible to pay all of your bills or what have you.
Just like if you get paid an hourly wage and you’re looking at purchasing something for yourself, you should look at how many hours you’re going to need to work in order to pay off that one item that you’re looking to purchase.
You should look at your time dollars the same.
So in your life-time bank account how are you spending your time dollars?
Now, realize that we never know how much is in our life-time bank account, so this increases the importance of how wisely we spend those time dollars. Just think about it for a bit.
So the first thing to do to improve your productivity is to get clear on what you’re currently doing with your time. I think you’ll be surprised by how much time you haven’t utilized in the past.
After all, once you spend time, with every single second going out of your life-time bank account, you’ll wish that you had spent your time dollars better.
ACTION STEP: How can we put this into action?
Well, instead of focusing on a rigorous Google calendar bursting at the seams and being disappointed when we don’t complete the tasks, we’re just going to take a step back and observe for a bit.
Then, we’ll adjust the actions we’re already taking by the teeeeniest tiniest amount.
This will set us up so that our trajectory of our time management skills will be angled towards large improvements.
Over time, this will help us improve in strides, but you will only see it as a tiny tweak.
If you think of the domino effect – it’s exactly like this. It starts as a tiny domino, but just as compound interest does it’s thang, your tiny changes will compound over time.
Just try to eliminate super small amounts of actions you know you shouldn’t be doing. Like our TV example – try to turn it off maybe just 5 minutes a day before you normally would.
It’s so small, it’d be silly not to, right?
2| Choose the Right Productivity Methods That Work for You
Now that we know a bit more about time and how that mythological world works, the next step in becoming a productive Charlotte is to find the right methods for us to work from.
In order to have more time, we need to be more productive in our own ways.
Now, productivity is a slippery slope because for some of us it’s not easy to do routine things. For some of us, it’s not easy to finish things, and it’s way more exciting to get started on a project than to see it through.
So how do we get around this but also still be productive if we are kind of lazy to begin with?
The trick is to realize that different methods are going to work for different people. All you need to do is figure out what methods are going to work for you, specifically.
You want to find what methods work for YOU as a person, and stick with it long enough to see if it actually makes a difference, not what some productivity/self-help book you bought says to do (it’s still sitting on your shelf with a bookmark in it, isn’t it?).
I’d say at least two weeks time is a good indicator to see if a method is working for you. There will be a time where you’ll want to stop – don’t do it! Attach it to a reward so that it starts to become a habit!
I’m going to list a few different methods that are in said self-help books, but then it’s up to you to try these out and see which one works best.
This is going to take some testing and maybe some back and forth when figuring out which of those methods work best for you.
So what kind of methods can we utilize to help us out in this area?
The Different Methods of Time Management and Productivity
Some tough love coming your way – watch out!
First, we need to realize that being busy is a cop-out.
If you want to do something, you will make time for it.
This comes back to what successful people always deem is taking responsibility for your life and for your actions. If you’re too busy, then it’s not important enough for you to take action on it, or you are focusing and putting the wrong things in the wrong priority spot.
Whatever it is, get rid of it, and stop making yourself feel bad or guilty about not doing it.
You’re spending valuable time by continually telling yourself you need to do that thing! And you’re probably making yourself feel guilty, and that’s only going to cause you more stress!
So go ahead and forgive yourself, and see if you can find a good method to help you prioritize better to make room for all the good things!
I recommend choosing just a couple to start with and improving as you go forward. If you give yourself too many things to try at once you will end up failing because you will overwhelm yourself. Trust me – I’ve totally done that before!
Eat the Frog – Brian Tracy’s method that talks about determining the most important and hardest tasks, and getting them over with first thing in the morning. Eat the Frog pertains to eating the most difficult task that you have to do that day. The rest of the day will be a breeze after that!
Pomodoro Technique – This pertains to setting a timer and working for 25 minutes on ONLY one task with no distractions. After that 25 minutes, you are allowed to take a five-minute break. After a few timers, you take a little bit longer break. The method is pretty much the same. Pomodoro means tomato in Italian because some guy in Italy created the method.
18 minutes – Spend 5 minutes setting a plan for the day. 1 minute of each hour is spent on refocusing to make sure you’re working on the right tasks. Spend 5 minutes reviewing at the end of the day and ask yourself: did you complete your tasks? What did you do well? Where did you focus or get distracted? Use your answers to guide you and adjust the next day!
Eisenhower Decision Matrix – Determine what’s urgent (needs immediate attention), and what’s important (what’s needed to reach long-term goals). What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
You can use this free online tool I found here to use this time management method.
Photo Credit: The Art of Manliness
ABCDE – When you’re mapping out your to-do list, you need to go back through and determine whether or not the task is:
- A – Very important or must do
- B – Important or should do
- C – A “nice to do task
- D – A task you should delegate
- or E- A task you should eliminate all together.
Time Blocking – My own personal recommendation for time-blocking is to write your tasks down that you need to do for the week, then break those down into days of the week you want to do them. Then, using the method above (ABCDE) to map out their importance.
When you’re ready to write out your plan, start with the A tasks and put them on your calendar.
Give yourself an allotted time (and more time than you expect) to get them done.
Then, move on to the B tasks, and C tasks, and so on.
Make sure there are personal and work tasks in there (unless you are only using a calendar to enter in times during business hours). Include buffer time so that you can be flexible for when something (inevitably) happens to change your schedule.
Batch Tasking – To do this, I would write down what tasks you need to get done for the week. Then, identify which ones you want to do on what days. Be sure to account for what days you will be the busiest, or that you won’t be at your full mental capacity compared to difficulty of the task.
For example: for me, writing articles is a large part of my schedule. I put this at the beginning of the week in order to use my fresh weekend-brain to write out great content! For Friday’s, I use this day for self-improvement, reading, and learning because it doesn’t take up much mental capacity for me. You could use that day for admin tasks, or inbox cleaning too (but seriously, I can see your inbox from here – it’s overflowing! :p)
Gamification – Make anything into a game and you are sure to make it more exciting for yourself. Achieve the goal, with a reward at the end. For example, your challenge is to get 30 more Instagram followers by interacting and engaging with users within your niche for an hour extra today!
If you win the game by completing the task (not by getting that amount of followers, which is out of your control) you get to go browse kitty videos on Youtube for 15 minutes!
You can also give yourself time limits and see how fast you can get a task done. Try to beat your personal best each time!
MIT’s – Identify the three most important tasks that you need to do, in the morning, while your brain and mind are still fresh – Josh Kaufman
Glass Jar – Imagine you have a glass jar on your desk. You first fill it with rocks, which are your biggest tasks of the day. Then, imagine that you then fill it with pebbles, which are the tasks that are second biggest tasks of your day. Then, fill the jar with sand, and finally, water. The sand and water fills in the gaps where the rocks and pebbles couldn’t reach.
If you think of your tasks the other way around, however, and you try to fill with water first, then sand, pebbles and your rocks, you’ll realize that you didn’t have enough space (or time) to fill the jar with the most important rocks.
Move the Needle – What is going to move the needle in your business? If you write out your to-do list and you look at it closely, you can identify the ONE thing that will move your business in the direction of your goals. Everything else should be secondary.
DO IT NOW – Is it going to take less than two minutes? If so, do it right then! David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done says there’s no need to think about something more than once. Especially if it only takes 2 minutes to do – it will take up more time in your brain than doing the actual task.
Another person who thinks of this is W. Clement Stone. Do it right while you’re thinking about it. Don’t sit there and think about it – just do it!
Alright, so that is all of the methods that I love to try to stay productive with! I haven’t tried them all of course, but this list should give you a good head start on improving productivity, therefore, increasing your time.
Have you chosen the three methods that you want to try out first?
See, not so bad, right?! It’s not all crazy planners and strict scheduling. Some of these are actually fun!
3 | Create A System
In the previous two steps, you’ve figured out what you’re doing with your current time, and hopefully chosen a couple of different time management methods to test out.
Next what we need to do is create a structure around those methods that will be flexible and last as you grow and adjust the methods for you.
We will determine what’s important in terms of priorities, talk about why systems are important in your business, and how to create a system around those priorities.
You will free up so much brain space you will actually have time to think about that cat knitting project you’ve been putting off forever. Not the one where you actually knit cats together, but the one with the cat on it..you know the one!
What do you mean by building systems and processes?
Well, we need to map out those repetitive tasks you do all the time, so that we can free up brain space and not try and remember those 80 steps you repeat weekly. There’s no reason why you need to try and remember those more than once.
You should have them written down somewhere, and when you need to do it, you just click on the checklist and go through it.
As easy as pie! No more trying to remember where you put that spreadsheet or what the heck to type in that Facebook post! You’ll have templates!
You should have templates for almost anything that you can imagine in your business.
Here’s a list of things that you can create templates for in your business to help save you time:
- Your monthly bookkeeping checklist
- Finding new leads for your email list
- Social Media Templates for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc
- Writing blog posts
- Templates for sending out newsletters to your customers
- Any and all email marketing funnels that you have
- Uploading that new product on Etsy
- Sharing and promoting that new freebie
- Writing out your schedule for the month
- Coming up with a content strategy for every single social media platform
- Copy templates for your marketing
- Canva templates for your Pinterest images
- Canned email templates for your customers common questions
- Canned emails for your client welcoming packet and off-boarding processes
- Email templates for your Pinterest group board requests
Whew, I’m overwhelmed just reading that list!
That’s why we want to spend ONE time doing the work and creating the templates, and then you don’t have to think about it again!
Just do the task, and it’s done better and more efficiently.
Again, if you’re doing it more than once, you need to have a process for it.
Now obviously this will take a lot of time, but the point is to continually do it over and over until you have the majority of your workflows written down, and then you’ll start to see that freedom really kick in. I’ve got a perfect post on this here
So how exactly should you build out your systems and processes and your business?
First, identify the workflows you want to write down.
Then, choose software to help you write these down and keep track of them.
Then, start writing down your tasks. I wouldn’t make it too difficult on yourself, all I would do is just starting with the next task that you do, start writing down exact step by step processes of how you do that task.
Doing this will actually help you realize where you can speed up your workflows, so overall it’s a win-win when it comes to being more productive in your business.
For a more in depth lesson on how to create your systems for your business and manage your time better, head on over to this post here!
Time Management Tips to Appease the Gods
Are the time-management Gods smiling down on you yet?
Okay so you have determined what you’re currently doing with your time and realized that you’re spending too much time on too many different things.
You’ve monitored your time and realized that you need to spend your time-dollars more wisely, yay for budgeting!
Then, you went through our list of different productivity options and chosen a couple of methods that will help you be more effective in your business.
That’s awesome because they will really help you at least see the difference between where you began, and as you use them, you’ll start to see your progress moving forward which will free up your time!!
And lastly you have a plan in place to actually start building out that system, so you know exactly what you should be doing in your business and being a more productive Charlotte. Way to go!
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of business workflows that you can hand off to someone and take a vacation. Woohoo!!!
Did this help you out? Is there anything you have questions on? Send me a comment or an email!