by Deborah A. Bailey
It’s the end of the day and you’re feeling overwhelmed because you haven’t accomplished everything that you set out to do. Not to mention the fact that now there are more things to add to your “to do” list.
If you’ve ever had that experience then you know how frustrating it can be. Where did the time go?
Even though we all get the same 24 hours in a day, we might not be using that time as efficiently as we’d like. A friend of mine, who’s also an entrepreneur, says she’s only getting a couple of hours sleep a night because she’s trying to get everything done. It’s not unusual for her to go to bed at 5:00 am, only to have to get up again at 8:00 a.m. to start working again.
Though we can have good intentions when we start out, it’s so easy to get sidetracked with time wasters.
If you find yourself wondering why you’re not getting things done, it’s time to change how you’re managing your time.
Don’t answer every call as it comes in. Screen your calls and return the lower-priority calls at a later time.
– This can be really difficult if you’re used to constantly checking your phone. But every conversation isn’t a priority. Have the conversations you need to have, then set a time to follow-up with your other communications.
Close your email program. Reading and replying to emails all day long is a major time stealer.
– Choose two or three times during the day to check your mail. – Emails and texts can be non-stop if you allow them to be. As with calls, set up a time to check in with lower-priority issues. Even if you think you’re just going to send a quick text, you could end up spending much more time than you’d expected with the back-and-forth.
Keep a list of things to accomplish for the day and stick to it.
– Set up your calendar, diary or a simple “to-do” list. Be realistic about what can be done. Over-promising on what you can do isn’t going to do anything but add more stress.
Take time for breaks in order to keep your energy level up.
– Whether you meditate, exercise, walk, read, listen to podcasts, etc. you need time away from work. Entrepreneurs can end up spending hours and hours focused on getting things done. Don’t ignore your health and well-being. Take time for you.
Working for hours without clearing your mind will make you less productive.
– When you’re tired and fatigued, you’ll have trouble making decisions and thinking clearly. When it’s time to stop for the day, don’t keep pushing. Can you delegate tasks? Think about ways to get things done without burning out.
If you work from home establish boundaries. Don’t get stuck on the phone with friends or family who feel that if you’re at home you’re not working.
– For some people, home = not working. Be sure to emphasize that you are at work by setting boundaries and being firm with them.
If a potential client contacts you, arrange a time to meet. A consultation that you think will take 15 minutes could end up taking a large chunk of time out of your day.
– Either set aside defined times for consultations or arrange them for specific times of day. Keep track of your time because it does have value.
Create systems to handle repetitive, day-to day tasks.
– When you have a system for completing tasks you do all the time, you can be more efficient and get more done. Even better, a system makes a task easier to delegate because you have all the steps documented.
If you plan out your day and create systems to stay on track, you’ll be able to accomplish more. At the end of the day you can look back on all the things you’ve completed and not be frustrated by what’s been left undone.