Looking for ways to better manage your time? If so, you’re not alone. Time management is a critical skill for running a successful business.
But if you’re like most coaches, you went into coaching because you love working with people—not because you’re passionate about running a business. The truth is running a business is hard work, and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get it all done. Fortunately, you can reclaim your time and increase your productivity by developing a few simple time management skills.
Start by assessing your current skill level using this simple time management skills test, published by Psychology Today, suggests businesswoman and educator Kathryn Eads, Ph.D. Once you have a baseline, choose one thing you can do differently right now to improve your time management. Write it down and post it on your computer or somewhere you will see it as a reminder. Commit to making the change until it becomes a habit.
Dr. Eads offers these additional tips for better managing your time and enhancing your effectiveness:
- Start with a time audit. A time audit is simply logging how you spend your time for a week or more. Most people think they’re being productive, but the truth is we waste more time than we realize. For example, between clients I sometimes hop on Facebook or other social media sites, and before I realize it, a half hour has passed. By auditing your time, you’ll see ways in which you can add hours back into your week.
- Keep a to-do list. I’ve always kept a daily to-do list on my desk. But I also keep running to-do lists in the kitchen, near the phone, and in my car. Choose one central location to track your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. This frees you up mentally to focus on serving your clients and building your business.
- Be prepared. Always. I can’t tell you how much time I spend standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms. I’ve learned to reach for my Kindle, loaded with business and coaching books, instead of letting unplanned delays frustrate me. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done in the “in-between times.”
- Break bigger projects into smaller tasks. Does the thought of archiving last year’s client files make you shudder? Do you dread gathering last year’s receipts for your accountant because you don’t remember where you put them? If so, you’re not alone. Consider setting a timer and completing what you can in 30 minutes. Repeat daily until you’ve completed the project.
- Use the right tools. With the plethora of time management tools available, how do you choose the ones that are right for you? One way to figure out what works for you is trial and error. Start by purchasing the basics — a day planner and boxes or files to keep track of receipts and business expenses. Or consider such online tools as Nozbe.com or Evernote. Try different tools until you find what works for you.
Tony Morgan, consultant and leadership coach, says it well: “You get to decide where your time goes. You can spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide.”