77% of business owners believe they should be spending more time on truly urgent tasks.
At first glance, the statement doesn’t raise eyebrows. But when you consider it further, one thing becomes strikingly clear: most successful business owners feel like they spend the majority of their time on less-than-urgent tasks.
That means that even for people that are achieving some results, the ceiling for their productivity is far from being close.
And in the business world, where even the slightest advantage can result in massive positive outcomes, entrepreneurs must be willing to work on how they spend the most valuable asset they have: time.
But how can entrepreneurs become more time-efficient?
To answer that question, let’s look at some of the best time management strategies for work and how you can start applying them as soon as today.
Why Productivity Matters
Productivity is a hot buzzword in the entrepreneurial world. You have probably read some of those insane daily routines of famous people today and in history, thinking that there’s no way you could follow something similar.
But the truth is, there’s no golden rule for how you should spend your time. If you decide you want to get up at five each morning and work 16 hours, that’s completely fine. Or maybe you decide you want to be able to work four hours per day and take the rest of the day off.
Both of these approaches are viable, but their success will come down to two main questions:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What do you need to do to get there?
In most cases, productivity matters because it enables entrepreneurs to own their time and take charge of how they spend it. Wasting at least some of your time is probably inevitable, but by working to minimize the amount you spend without a clearly-defined purpose, you can maximize not only your work results but your overall life balance as well.
No matter how much time you decide to spend on work-related activities, being able to stick to your schedule and meet your goals means that you actually get to enjoy your free time as well.
When you are in-sync with your goals and your work, you don’t have to compromise your time and can actually own it instead of it owning you. When you decide to take time off, that can be a conscious and guilt-free decision since you know you are meeting the goals you set out for yourself.
How to Manage Your Time for Better Results
Now that we’ve understood how being efficient in the workplace can benefit you, it’s time to dig into specific strategies to help you become time-efficient.
Ready to get started? Then read on below.
Perform a Time Audit
Before you can get started on your journey towards becoming more productive, you need to get a better understanding of the current time management habits that affect your daily life.
In other words, you need to see where those minutes, hours, and days really go. What activities take up the most time? Where is the most time lost? Which tasks are neglected?
You may think you have a pretty good idea of how your day looks, but the chances are that the real situation isn’t exactly as how you imagine it. Therefore, the only way to gain objective insights is to set up a way to track where your time goes.
If you spend most of your time on a computer, tracking your activity may be as simple as installing a time-tracking app on your browser. You may find that seemingly minor distractions such as email or social media are eating up your work time.
If you have offline tasks as well, it might be a good idea to start a notebook, jotting down what you did in the last hour.
Internalize the Value of Time
Becoming more time-efficient is just as much about mindset as it is about good practices. If you don’t have a deeply-rooted understanding of why your time is valuable, keeping control of how you spend the hours you have available will always be an uphill battle.
Therefore, you should take the time to envision and crystalize what an additional hour or two saved per day could do to you.
What if you could spend that time learning a new skill? Or becoming more knowledgeable on a subject? Networking with peers and prospects? Figuring out which direction you should take?
The thing is, time management isn’t about a single win or a big project. It’s about the accumulation of minutes and hours, turning that time into vastly improved outcomes for you and your business.
Once you know precisely what those hours could turn into, you might find yourself getting excited about the prospects of implementing the time efficiency tips listed in this article.
Start Planning Your Days
The only way to stay on top of your time efficiency is to know what to do next. Most people are afraid of micro-managing their day because of the constraints that it can put on accomplishing different tasks.
Cramming a task into an hour might not always be possible, and you can’t have your entire schedule falling apart just because something took longer than expected.
However, you can instead adopt an approach that has become more popular each year because of David Allen’s revolutionary book. In Getting Things Done, he talks about not constraining yourself with timed-tasks but instead prioritizing tasks in terms of urgency and freeing up your mind for what you have to do right now.
One of the most ingenious suggestions he offers is to have “buckets” where you can drop in ideas, non-urgent to-do’s, and everything else you need to remember but don’t have time for right now.
That way, you know that those things won’t be forgotten and can allow your mind to ignore them for now. However, for this to work, it’s essential to come back and clear out the “buckets” at regular intervals, ideally every week.
Zero in on Your True Goals
When you’re working on accomplishing your daily tasks, keeping busy can make it seem like you’re getting somewhere. But unfortunately, that alone isn’t really an indicator of anything besides the fact that you’re doing some sort of work.
Often people will work on tasks that take up a lot of time and are hard without considering how they play into the bigger picture of what they’re trying to accomplish.
To avoid that, if you want to launch a new business or realize an idea, you need to have a signpost that tells you exactly what you’re aiming for, which you can then use to evaluate every task you add to your calendar.
And sometimes, to identify goals, you need to dig even deeper in order to find what gives your life purpose. My course, Managing Happiness, can help you find the meaning in your life and reach your desired outcomes, which can then crystalize exactly what you need to do in every hour of every day.
Then, it will become a matter of looking at each task and thinking – does this bring me closer to the goals I’m trying to achieve? And is it the best way to use my time right now?
Learn to Delegate
There are 168 hours in a week. Subtract the time you spend sleeping, spending with your family, resting, or pursuing passions outside of work, and you’re left with much less than that.
Therefore, as an entrepreneur, you will inevitably reach a point when you realize there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. What’s more, as discussed in previous sections, you’ll probably see that some of the tasks aren’t the best use of your time, even if they need to be done.
That’s why it’s a good idea to start thinking about delegating tasks as soon as possible. No matter the stage you might be in or how big of a business you run, it’s all but guaranteed that you could find (more) things to delegate that would ensure every hour you work is as productive as it can be.
One thing that can make a huge difference is hiring a virtual assistant. Sure, it may seem like an expense at first, but if they can take over your email, help make presentations, and even handle some of the outreach, wouldn’t that allow you to make up the money you pay tenfold or even more?
If you don’t want to hire a VA, you should at least think about outsourcing specific tasks.
Need to get your site ranking? Hire a service like Shortlist to build high-quality backlinks. Want more leads for your business? Allow TaskDrive to deliver targeted leads for your sales team. Need to save time on dealing with customers? Hire the entire process out to a service like LTVplus.
These companies are part of my portfolio and I personally vouch for the quality of the services they provide. But they are just an example of the direction in which you should be thinking.
Whatever challenges you are facing, you don’t need to address them yourself. You can bring in world-class experts to take your efforts to another level, saving time and growing your business at the same time.
In this article, I discussed some of the best ways to become a more time-efficient entrepreneur. But while each of these steps can be incredibly powerful, it’s up to you to implement them and find how to make them work in your situation.
What have you found to be the biggest challenges in terms of productivity? And what has worked best for making you more efficient? Leave a comment below!