Are you in a constant state of overwhelm and dread because you’re always behind schedule? Without a doubt, time is our most valuable and precious resource. How well are you managing this finite gift? With our hectic lifestyles, never-ending to-do lists, and constant assaults on our time, it’s no wonder there’s never enough of it. Learn how to create a time management plan in 5 steps.
Ideally, time should be used as a vehicle to build and promote your business, develop your talents and relationships, and enjoy time for self-care and solitude. With all that’s at stake, time management should be top priority on all our lists.
What Is Time Management?
In its simplest definition, time management is the act of consciously controlling, and allocating the time you spend on specific tasks and activities, in order to optimize efficiency and productivity. If you’re an entrepreneur like me, and you set your own hours, time management is particularly essential because it’s up to you to allocate your time according to your goals on any given day.
I don’t have a day job I’m required to be at from nine to five, my time is my own which is absolutely fantastic, but it does mean that I have to exercise discipline, doubling down on my efforts to accomplish what I’ve set out to complete in a specific time frame.
When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to keep yourself motivated, to fight the daily distractions, and not give in to the inevitable temptations to procrastinate. These are all very real issues that arise when you’re not accountable to anyone but yourself.
I don’t know about you, but making lists has been a huge part of my life. I always say I’m putting the pressure on the paper. The mental pressure in my head builds when I think of all the things I need to get done.
If I don’t write them down, I experience extreme overwhelm, and can’t get a realistic handle on what I need to do and when. The brain dump that occurs from writing things down, frees up my mental reserves, assuring that my most urgent tasks will get done because I’ve taken the time to write them down.
How To Create A Time Management Plan
There are strategies you can take to create a time management plan that keeps you focused, optimizes your time, and enables you to track your success. Essentially, it puts you in the driver’s seat of how you spend and allocate your time.
1. Setting Priorities
The first step in creating a time-management plan that works for you is to determine what is most important to you. Prioritize your long-term goals according to what you want to accomplish in the next six months, the next year, and even the next five years. Then set your short-term goals for what you want to get done in the next week, writing a specific to-do list for each individual day in the week.
With your goals and priorities set, you can now formulate your time-management plan, which gives you a broad perspective of what you’d like to achieve in all avenues of your life. Time management promotes big-picture thinking.
Keep in mind, priorities should encompass all areas of your life, including self-care, relationships, and business planning. A great business plan is awesome, but it won’t be effective long-term if it excludes other essential areas, like taking time for creativity, service, and reflection.
[Read More: Does The Pomodoro Technique Work?]
Striving for balance in all areas of your life will not only make you happier and healthier, but also more productive in your online endeavors. Focusing all your time on business may work short-term, but in the long run is not sustainable, and will eventually lead to burnout. The Pomodoro Technique is an efficient way to organize your day, in blocks of time, to increase focus and productivity.
2. Developing Organizational Skills
Now that you have your priorities and short and long-term goals set, organize them in terms of importance and urgency. Remember, however, that just because a task isn’t urgent or doesn’t have a deadline attached to it, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Exercise is a good example of this.
While it may not be considered urgent, I don’t think any of us would underestimate its importance. Not making time for this essential aspect to health, won’t kill you overnight, but will degrade your health overtime, until one day you’ll get a wake up call and won’t be able to ignore it any longer.
Adequate rest, time for relationships, healthy eating, solitude, and creativity all fall into this same category. Strive for balance when planning your time. When creating your business priorities and goals, consider what activities will generate the best ROI.
For instance, in my affiliate marketing business, creating content is top priority. I know by writing engaging and helpful content, I will build trust with my audience, increase my social media following, drive traffic to my website, and ideally, increase conversions.
If I neglect my daily writing, my business suffers so I’ve learned to make this a priority. I also need to promote my content on social media every day.
One of my monthly goals is to check my website analytics once or twice a month to see which of my posts are performing the best so I know what to create more of.
An example of a yearly goal would be producing a specific number of posts for my blog. If you’re super ambitious and goal-oriented, you can devise a five-year plan. Mine is making a certain amount of money within that time frame. Prioritize your tasks into the categories, such as “urgent,” “important,” and “non-urgent.”
The urgent tasks should be at the top of your list. Brainstorming ideas for articles, researching keywords, and writing are all on my urgent list. I don’t feel productive at the end of the day without meeting these particular goals. Attending a child’s school activity is also considered urgent and non-negotiable because it’s not like you can put off a school function that is happening today.
Working on a creative project, and making time for lunch with a friend are both important, but not necessarily urgent. Reading a book for pleasure is non-urgent, but is still worth making time for.
3. Time To Get To Work
Now that you’ve made a list of your priorities, and organized them in terms of importance, it’s time to start tackling your list. Begin with the most urgent task first, allowing a designated amount of time to work on it. Don’t forget to take short breaks periodically to keep your mind focused and engaged. These small, but powerful breaks, will boost your concentration, allowing you to plow through tasks with ease.
As an example, when I start writing in the morning, I set the timer on my phone for one hour. I work continuously, blocking out distractions for the entire time, and forcing myself to laser focus on the task at hand.
It never ceases to amaze me how much I can get done when I’m working on purpose. After an hour, I’ll take a break for a few minutes. I’ll throw in a load of laundry or pull some weeds – jobs that are on my non-urgent list – but ones I want to complete nonetheless.
This method works well for me, and I’m usually caught up on my housework. Because of this strategy, I never underestimate the importance of utilizing small blocks of time. You really can get a lot done when you prioritize. A crucial aspect of time management is the art of simplification.
It’s not about trying to cram more into you’re already-full schedule, it’s about working smarter, not harder, while strategically optimizing your time. Not only does managing time reduce stress, it keeps your priorities fresh in your mind, allowing you to organize your time to receive the biggest return on your investment.
Time Saving Techniques – Automation
Automation and delegation are techniques that will save you time and money. Automate whatever you can to make the best use of your time. In my business, I automate my social media pinning with Tailwind, which lets me build my social networks as I sleep. This enables me to focus my limited energy on tasks that can’t be automated.
Email marketing is another example of how powerful automation can be. Write and schedule your weekly newsletters to be automatically delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes. You can set this up and then forget about it. There are many marketing automation platforms you can use, and some are free up to a certain number of subscribers.
Since it takes a lot of brain power to create unique and informative blog posts, why not recycle and repost them with a handy WordPress plugin? Make the most out of your hard-earned content by reusing it. Get Revive Social on your content-creation team by automating when your articles are reposted.
Share The Load
Delegation is an amazing time-saving technique that will free up your energy for tasks that only you can do. In terms of your business goals, delegate tasks like social media promotion, keyword research, answering comments, creating graphics, running PPC campaigns, and website design to a virtual assistant if you can afford one.
You can even hire someone to help produce content. Dispel the notion that you have to do it all. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, rather it demonstrates a healthy respect for your time, and highlights your organizational skills. Without a doubt, for me, the biggest time-saver is having someone run errands for me. Time in the car takes away valuable time I can use to write, promote, and market.
Divide and conquer when it comes to household chores. For instance, I do the laundry, which I don’t mind at all, while my husband shops and prepares food, which isn’t my favorite thing. This arrangement works perfectly, saving us both time and headache.
Come up with a plan that works for all involved. Pay someone to mow your lawn or clean your house if you can afford it. Get your kids on board with simple household chores. This teaches them how to work, how to manage money, and the importance of industry. And, of course, it saves you time.
There are a ton of different ways to organize your life. Personally, I use the notes app on my iPhone, but if you like writing rather than typing, consider buying a physical planner to record what you need to do. Check out these planners to make the best use of your time:
- Legend Planner: This deluxe weekly and monthly planner is both an organizer and a productivity journal. It has a lovely hard cover, and comes with stickers.
- Productivity Planner: Get focused and beat procrastination with this minimalistic 5″ by 8″ planner. It’s guaranteed to increase productivity with the promise of a full refund if it doesn’t.
- Clever Fox Planner: This 6″ by 3″ stylish planner helps you organize your daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals for an entire year. The layout is simple, yet elegant, making it enjoyable to boost your productivity, while staying on task.
- Rocketbook Panda Planner: This gorgeous microfiber planner comes in two different sizes, executive (6″ by 9″), and letter (8.5 by 11). The planner is erasable and reusable, and comes with a Pilot Frixion pen and microfiber cloth. A really great feature of the Rocketbook is it allows you to save your pages digitally to a variety of services, including Google drive, Evernote, OneNote, Slack, iCloud, and Dropbox. The digital app is free for both iOS and Android users. The planner comes in four different colors: dark blue, scarlet, teal, and black.
Making lists can be a fun and creative process. Grab your planner, highlighters, and stickers and start planning your day, week, and month. Organization has never been so productive.
I have an online business and work from home so taking control of my time is paramount if I want to accomplish the goals I’ve outlined for the week. If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting an online business, READ MY REVIEW or click the banner below to get started.
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Now that you’ve set, organized, and are executing your time management plan, remember that follow-through and consistency are key. Adhering to a plan is way more doable if it’s written down. Then all you have to do is stick to that plan the best you can. Overtime, you’ll start seeing spectacular results from better managing your time, and these results will keep you motivated to continue doing more of what’s working.
Your self-esteem will increase as well because you’re exercising discipline by controlling and valuing your time. If something isn’t working, simply tweak your blocks of time until you get it right. Time management is a life-long endeavor, and one that is worth implementing.
What techniques do you use to manage your time? Let me know in the comments:)