Time is your most valuable resource, and how you manage it can significantly impact the success of your business and your personal well-being. But finding effective ways to organize your schedule and manage your team can feel like a time-consuming task in itself.
If you feel overwhelmed by your calendar or like there is no room in your day to take care of your personal needs, it's time to revisit your time management methods. To help you reclaim control over your schedule, boost productivity, and reduce stress, consider these life-changing time management strategies.
1 | Leverage The Art of Time-Blocking
If you enjoy making lists or scheduling meetings to organize your day, time-blocking takes these strategies to the next level. Time blocking means allocating specific periods of your day to dedicated tasks, projects, or activities. The process is simple yet incredibly effective, providing structure and focus to your workday.
And, if you don't enjoy making lists or scheduling meetings to organize your day, you may have an opportunity to change your relationship with your calendar (and time) to make the very most of the 24 hours you do have each day. The skill of time-blocking can help you bend time, expanding what you do have and using your time intentionally to create the life you want.
Think about time-blocking as taking everything you would normally put into a task list, and scheduling it on your calendar in blocks of time. Then, you throw away the task list and only use your calendar to ensure you are getting everything done that needs to get done.
One of the benefits of working with your time this way is that you can quickly see if you are overestimating what's actually possible in the time you have to complete tasks, if you need to delegate tasks, or if you need to build in more time to accomplish your goals.
The main difference between time-blocking and simply scheduling tasks on your calendar is that time-blocking is highly intentional and proactive, instead of scheduling items on your calendar reactively as they come up each day. When done well, your time-blocked schedule should include scheduled time for focused work, catching up on emails, and even personal needs like eating lunch, getting a haircut, or watching your son's soccer game.
To get the most out of time-blocking, set aside one hour at the very beginning of your week or the Friday before to identify your most important tasks and goals for the week ahead. What are the critical items that demand your attention? By listing your top priorities, you can ensure they receive the dedicated time they deserve.
Once you've pinpointed your priorities, assign a block of time to a specific task or project, keeping in mind the level of energy and focus required. For instance, you might reserve the morning hours for high-priority projects that demand your peak concentration and save more repetitive tasks like paying bills or reviewing emails for the afternoon.
Stick to Your Schedule - And Do This If You Can't
The key to successful time-blocking is using your calendar! This means looking at your calendar each day, first thing in the morning, and before you close your computer for the night. Do the best you can to follow the schedule you've established for yourself. Once you've allocated a block for a particular task, honor it as you would any other appointment. Minimize distractions, turn off non-essential notifications, and commit fully to the task at hand.
And, if you can't stick to the schedule because something comes up - as it does - no worries, simply go to your calendar and move the task that you blocked into the next available block. Don't give up on the task, don't beat yourself up, don't consider yourself a time-blocking failure - just move the task to the next open block. And, if you don't complete a task within the assigned block, just create a new block with the estimated time to complete the rest of the task. Simple.
Over time, you'll get better at estimating what you can do and can't do in what period of time. You'll start to include breaks between activities. You'll begin to recognize that things often take longer than you expect, or that you can get way more done when you are focused or know exactly what to do than you ever dreamed possible.
To leave space for sudden business needs, appointments, or emergencies, try to block off at least one hour at the end of the day that stays vacant. If something urgent does come up during your day, you can use this free block to handle it, or use it to shift your schedule if the urgent matter requires your attention earlier in the day.
If no urgent or overdue tasks require your attention during the free hour, you can use it to get ahead on your week, leave the office early, or check in with your team.
At the end of each day or week, review your time-blocking approach. Assess what worked well and what didn't. Adjust your schedule as necessary to optimize your productivity and ensure your highest-priority tasks consistently receive attention.
2 | Embrace Technology for Task Management
The second time-management strategy to master is the use of online project management systems, beyond sticky notes and Excel sheets. In the digital age, technology offers an array of tools to streamline task management and time optimization. As a business owner, leveraging these resources can prove invaluable in boosting efficiency and freeing up your mental space.
Even if you prefer a written planner or rely on an assistant to manage your calendar, these tools can help keep all members of your team on the same page. There are numerous online task management applications available, such as Trello, Asana, and Todoist that allow you to create, organize, and prioritize tasks with ease, as well as assign tasks to team members and monitor their progress.
These task management tools often integrate with digital calendars, providing a holistic view of your schedule across platforms. By syncing your task management app with your digital calendar you can ensure that your to-do list aligns seamlessly with your time-blocked schedule.
This integration also enables you to allocate time blocks directly to specific tasks and receive reminders for upcoming deadlines. It can also notify you when a team member needs you to review their work on a project or provide input.
If it feels overwhelming to get a digital project management system setup, don't handle it yourself. These days, there are amazing experts who can set up your project management system for you and make it a whiz for you to run. Or, if you have a techy team member already on your team, task them with getting it done, and checking in with you periodically to share their progress where you can ask questions, give feedback, and make sure the setup will work for you.
Personalized Time Management Advice from Your LIFTed Business Advisor
Effective time management isn't about working more–it's about working smarter to achieve your business objectives while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By embracing time-blocking and harnessing technology to synchronize your deadlines with your calendar and your team, you can take back control of your schedule, increase productivity, and reduce the stress that a reactive workday creates.
If you want to know how to apply time-blocking to your specific business or want advice on which technology tools can help your business run smoothly, we can help.
Schedule a free 15-minute call to learn more about how we can serve you as your strategic advisor, and don't forget to come back next week for part two of this blog.
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The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.