With all the apps and tools available today, you would think that managing time effectively would be simple.
The reality is, if you sleep eight hours, you have just sixteen hours on any given day to get things done. For entrepreneurs, this seems like such a limited amount of time given the number of demands on your to-do list.
Time, being a perishable resource, needs to be utilized strategically to ensure that you are making the most of it. It is important to understand the obstacles or challenges in your way that could be preventing you from managing your time effectively.
Here are some of the most common obstacles and what to do about them:
At any given time, you are faced with several choices or things that need to be done—some are more important than others. However, if you are unable to determine what is important right now, you might not be able to make the best use of your time.
Prioritization is simply about sorting out your to-do list in a way that allows you to do what is really important first and to relegate the rest of your time to other tasks. Busy yet successful people have mastered the art of prioritization and so they are able to get things done more efficiently within the limited time they have.
Research shows that people who believe that they are in control of their time tend to manage their time more effectively than those who do not feel in control.
Do you, consciously or unconsciously, let others control your time? Whether it’s that colleague with unending meetings, your spouse or child with constant domestic demands, your employees or your friends—all these people can chip away at your time so that you end up doing things on their terms (and time) and not on your own.
If you have given up control of your time, it is time to take it back and be a little selfish with it. This calls for saying ‘no’ more often to avoid distractions from your planned priorities.
Without a doubt, life gets in the way but by being in control of your time, you would still be able to maneuver most of these ‘life’ events in a way that allows you to attain your short-term and long-term goals.
A present-oriented framework can easily keep you from making long-term plans and following through with them while keeping distractions at bay. Consequently, you may find yourself with numerous incomplete projects, looming deadlines and a chronic inability to get anything done.
Consider adjusting your framework to one that is more future-oriented—one that allows you to plan, prioritize and allocate enough time for the different things you need to do. Consider the rewards that come from being in control of your time and achieving your goals over the long-term.
Being reactive or proactive is really about being in control of your time. Do you wait to solve problems at the last minute when they are about to get out of hand and mutate into a crisis? Constantly putting out fires can be a major time-suck that can distract you from what is really important.
To spend your time more effectively, be less reactive and more proactive by solving problems immediately instead of putting them off until when it is too late.
A popular belief is that multitasking helps you do more things while saving time. However, numerous studies indicate that multitasking is a less effective use of your time and can affect the quality of work output too.
The problem with multitasking is that it unconsciously prompts you to take on more responsibilities, causing you to feel overwhelmed and out of control. The result is an inability to meet deadlines, split attention, stress and not being able to get anything done.
No matter how demanding your schedule is, avoid multitasking. Instead, plan, prioritize and execute one task a time.
Exhausting yourself should not be an accomplishment. It is true there is a culture among entrepreneurs and employees alike that taking on more work and working long hours is the only way to become and remain successful.
However, if your to-do list keeps growing longer and longer, you are obviously not going to be able to manage your time effectively—you will end up in the same conundrum: too much to do, too little time.
One of the best ways to better manage your time is to take on just what you can handle at any given time and leave out the rest for another day. Do not mistake this for procrastination or laziness though—quality is always better than quantity when it comes to meeting the demands on your time.
Even the most successful people struggle with managing their time. Yet, as the scarcity of time will not change any time soon, it is possible to optimize how we manage our time. Organization, clarity of goals, prioritizing and good ol’ ‘no’ are steps in the right direction.