We’ve all read books that tell us how important our time is. But most books can’t even simplify the message to fit on one page. Well, below I have done just that. I teach, praise and live by the following techniques, which allow you to manage your time better so you can invest more of it in developing yourself, your business and your leadership.
Not every tip will work for every entrepreneur, but they’re the key to how I got to where I am today.
Start by organising and simplifying
Stay organised. Label files using logic that makes sense to you. Keep important, frequently referenced documents in a folder. The less time you spend searching for items, the more time you have to focus on important tasks. We all get inundated with and submerged in work-related details, but we need to remember that by taking the time now to organize, we save time hunting for important information in the future.
Multitask with intention
We live in a fast-paced world where people are continuously taking on more work than they can do. By multitasking, you can accomplish a lot more. But let me be clear — it is very important not to multitask to the point where you lose focus. For example, if you are on the phone with a client, you probably shouldn’t be typing an email. I can get a lot of work done while at the gym. I get on the elliptical and spend the hour sending emails at the same time. I’m still getting an incredible workout and I feel less stressed after the gym knowing I was able to get work done.
Write your to-do list the night before
A surprising number of successful people share this habit. Knowing what your workload will look like the following day will help you rest more easily, helping you feel more prepared to meet unique challenges or new situations. You’ll also be able to refer to it if you realise you’ve forgotten something overnight.
Read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
This is one of the most inspirational and informative books I’ve ever read. Ferrazzi details — in an entertaining story-like fashion — the best tactics to networking effectively with generosity to ensure everyone wins. Our lives, in business and outside, are largely dictated by the health and strength of our connections.
Set aside personal time
When you’re done at work, be done with work. An unbalanced life isn’t healthy. Just like our bodies and minds need the rejuvenation that happens during sleep, our “work muscles” need time to rest, recuperate and ruminate on new information. Remember to commit as much time, effort and love into your non-work relationships as you put into your work relationships (including time with yourself!).
Turn off the TV
Invest in yourself. Instead of submitting to the urge to tune out in front of the TV, read something. Whether you’re reading something that will directly help you improve your performance, strategy or outreach at work, or you’re reading a book strictly for pleasure, you’ll be doing yourself a great service. Our minds need new information from varied sources to continue growing.
Listen to audio CDs while driving
There is so much to learn and so little time to learn it all. Audiobooks are readily available, both on CD and for download, meaning that long commute could work in your favor. Start your day with a motivational CD to get you pumped up for work, or listen to an industry-specific talk to gain insight and new tools. And don’t forget the thousands of free MP3 audio podcasts that are out there.
Remember, time management works a little bit differently for everyone. If you remember to take notes, streamline and use your time wisely, you’ll see both your time management and outlook improve.
A version of this post originally appeared on YFS Magazine.
Nicole Smartt is the owner of Star Staffing. She is the youngest recipient to be awarded the Forty Under 40 award, recognising business leaders under the age of 40. Her book, From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead at Work, can be pre-ordered on her website at www.nicolesmartt.com.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organisation comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship programme that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.