Eight Essential Habits For Successful Time Management

Managing a business can be hard, but managing your day shouldn't be. Check out these eight essential time management habits.

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Time is the one finite resource we have. Unlike money or creativity, we can’t add to our allotment. As a business owner, your time management game needs to be tight! Without implementing good time management habits, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel out of control. But, by implementing these time management tips, from the Managing Time to Maximize Productivity series, you can regain your sanity and take back your day.

Time Management Habit #1: Set goals

Go ahead and groan, I don’t blame you. We look at goal-setting all wrong! Goal-setting is not this day-long, lock yourself in a room and do a SWAT Analysis, then spend four hours creating SMART goals for the year…

It doesn’t have to be painful. Really.

But it does have to be done.

Your goal is the destination on the road map of your day, month, quarter or year. And if you don’t know where you want to go, you can manage your time like a boss, and still fail. Seriously, who wants that?

At a minimum, set weekly goals as part of your time management habits for success.

Habit #2: Plan Early

Planning early is a crucial time management habit. Whether it’s a giant project or simply your daily to-do list, give it some thought before you jump in.

Who hasn’t sat down at her desk and just started working on whatever is top-of-mind or the first thing she sees and the next thing she knows, it’s two hours later? Did she make progress toward her goal? Probably not.

My planning habits are:

  • Weekly (usually on Sunday Night): Review my committed time for the upcoming week (appointments, meetings, etc); Set my three weekly non-negotiables. (See Habit 4).
  • Daily: Write out my daily To-Do list

Habit #3: Prioritize like a Boss

There will always more items on your To-Do list than time, especially if you’re stretching yourself and working towards a big goal. Prioritizing your tasks is an essential time management habit. E-S-S-E-N-T-I-A-L.

Dr. Stephen Covey, the granddaddy of GSD (Getting Sh!t Done) developed a task evaluation method for prioritization. As you review your To-Do list, identify each task using the following:

  • Important and Urgent: Tasks that live here include deadlines, urgent meetings, bust-out-the-fire-extinguisher-for-your-top-client emails. These tasks must be addressed.
  • Important and Not Urgent: These tasks are are essential for the management of your business or your life, but do not need to be tackled at this moment. As you tame your To-Do list by developing better time management habits, you’ll spend a lot more time here. This is the growth quadrant.
  • Not Important and Urgent: These are the tasks that make the loudest noise, but don’t actually move us towards our goals. Interruptions, email or social media notifications (I see you!)
  • Not Important and Not Urgent: Low-priority stuff that gives the illusion of productivity.
Time Management Matrix

Time Management Habit #4: Commit to less

This time management habit has been a game-changer for me. Each week, I set three non-negotiable goals that all support my larger goals. Then, each day, I set three non-negotiables that support the weekly goal. It’s task-listing with intention.

Those three things are my priority for the day. Once they are done, I can shift my focus to Important, Not Urgent tasks. And if they don’t get done, they become the next day’s priority. By the end of the week, my three weekly goals are done, son!

If you can only add one time management habit right now, pick this one!

Habit #5: Delegation

Delegation isn’t just for fancy executives with a giant pool of staff members.

Delegation can be assigning low level tasks to an assistant or VA. But it can also be passing off grocery shopping or meal prep to your spouse, hiring a dude to cut your grass or clean your house. It’s simply moving those tasks that need to be done, but don’t need to be done by YOU off your plate.

Time Management Habit #6: Track Your Time

Tracking your time is a great time management habit, especially if you find yourself at the end of the day, wondering where the hell the last 8 hours have gone.

When you track your time, you get greater insight on how long things take (wait, it takes an hour to write a blog post? I thought I could write 20 today…), which leads to better planning, which leads to greater productivity, which leads to a happier you.

Habit #7: Self-Care

Yes, self-care is a time management habit. Here’s why: When you’re tired, everything takes longer. When you’re stressed the hell out, you’re not operating at peak performance. When you eat like crap, you feel like crap. Take time for self-care and you’ll have more time for your business.

Habit #8: Eliminate Distractions

When it comes to good time management habits, your phone is ENEMY NUMBER ONE!

Oooh, a new tweet.

Oooh, Becky messaged me.

Ooohhh, Karen liked my photo.

Ooohh, there goes my productivity…

Make it a habit to turn your phone upside down or off when it’s working time. Sure, you can check it a few times during the day, but be intentional when your on social media.

I hope these time management habits are helpful to you. Do you have a great time management habit to share? Tell me about it!

Are you ready to make the most of every day, and get more done than you ever thought possible? I’d love to send you my e-book, The Pillars of Productivity, and bonus tips for free. Sign up here.

Ready to get your small business budget under control? Snag my free Cost-Cutting Checklist here.

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