I’ve lost my focus again… This used to be my famous line until I snapped and started putting systems in place for the perfect time management strategy. A perfect strategy for me would be a one with the uppermost goals being to increase efficiency and value, quality and quantity of output and to never lose focus again.
When I worked without a set strategy for time management, I observed that I constantly dropped opportunities, my work life balance was out of whack and stress levels were shooting through the roof. Procrastination and mental fog were my most vicious adversaries.
Now, everyone talks about time management without knowing what it actually means and how to strategically implement it into their lives. By time management, I mean a cleverly systematized method of planning and distribution of tasks to accomplish efficient levels of output. Time management is all about prioritizing, allocating a given amount of time for each activity in the day, choosing higher priority tasks always over the lower ones.
Recognize your time spending patterns
It is not uncommon for someone to start scrolling away on social media and lose total track of time. This is when you think you are updating yourself on what’s latest and trending, but it is also when a lot of cute cat videos are in the way and time dissolves into nothingness.
For the next five days, (let’s make this Monday to Friday) keep a time log. Record every single thing you do during each 30 minute periods. Spend the following Saturday analysing your time spending patterns. Identify what tasks took the most time and were they necessary.
Set priorities, create goals.
Once you know how you have been spending your time until now, it’s easier to trim down on non-necessities and set priorities. Prioritization means doing what is urgent and most important first, the lesser imperative tasks subsequently. Create to-do lists based on priorities and set your list somewhere where you constantly can see it, that way you know and remember what’s on top.
Continue logging your time because at the end of the day you still have a chance of recognizing what was a waste of time or how much time was unnecessarily spent. I use a color coding system to analyze time spent, red to me means time spent unwisely and these tasks could be delegated or discarded. Orange means tasks that could have saved time if done differently, so there is room here for improvement. Green is what I crave a lot of, this to me would mean a pat on the back, time spent just right.
Time management would be impossible if you are disorganized and your desk and office are a mess. First thing I’d love you to do is get rid of the clutter around you. Employ a system in place; outline a flow chart that shows a clear plan of how to deal with “things” so that they don’t form a clutter.
I once spent six long hours organizing a client’s office. Books, mail, bills, receipts, drawings by kids, business cards collected at networking events, invoices, stationery, magazines, take out menus and much more were all delegated their own “Homes” and at the end of each a chart was created showing the home of each item that will likely enter the office. At the end of the day the client was coached on how to maintain the office so that the clutter is off forever.
Employ technology available to you
Unlike quite a few of my clients, I’m a big fan of technology. Electronic scanning and filing of paperwork, (I use a Neat scanner) file management on the cloud, (drop box, live drive and zip cloud, depending on the client’s preference) accounts and spreadsheet management on the cloud, (google docs, QuickBooks cloud, Numbler) a consolidated email system, (MS Outlook) an offline secure data management and organizing tool, (Lotus Organizer, iPassword) and a good number of productivity apps keep me methodical and systematic.
These guys are here to stay, the time is near when old school methodologies will become obsolete and technology will totally take over. It’s time to start preparing!
This is the single most concept that most solo-preneurs do not perceive… Solo-preneurs in this day and age who crave exponential growth need to focus on escalating their reach and cannot afford to sweat the nitty gritty aspects in their business. I started Virtual Plus with the sole intention of freeing up the most precious time for solo-preneurs like myself.
To delegate to staff, team members or even online business managers like me, start by identifying activities that other people can do. Recognize and hire people with the required expertise and skills. Take specific measures in conveying your expectations. Monitor periodically but never micro manage. If a team member needs micro management, you have a liability and not an asset.
In conclusion, don’t be too harsh on yourself. After all, like me, you are human too. We are all creatures of habit, even though we break resolutions every day, tomorrow is a fresh start.