Top 10 Time Management Tips for Managers

Running a small business is no walk in the park. Between taking care of clients, managing web presence, working with your employees, general administration tasks, and chasing leads, you tend to constantly have a lot on your plate. As a manager or small business owner, your day to day life and business responsibilities can get pretty hectic. Poor time management can make stressful situations more stressful, and lead to problems, mistakes, and no work-life balance. 

While there’s not a lot you can do in terms of reducing your workload and making yourself busy, managing your time well can make things run smoothly and help your responsibilities feel like less of a burden. By making sure your time is well managed, you will be able to be the most productive version of yourself and get much more done than before, leading to less of the “I need more hours in the day” internal dialogue throughout your work week.

Here are some of the best time management tips that will help to boost your productivity.

1- Avoid Multitasking

While multitasking– jumping from task to task- can seem like a good idea when you’re pressed for time, it can actually make completing tasks more difficult, reducing your overall productivity. Shifting between a number of different things all at once requires your brain to adjust quickly to new tasks, reducing focus levels and leading to careless mistakes you’ll just have to spend time correcting later on. 

Focusing on a single task for a shorter amount of time is a smarter method of time management than working on multiple tasks for long periods of time. Remember, trying to take care of a task while also checking and replying to emails every few minutes is still multitasking and is still taking away from your productivity! Save the emails until after you’ve finished your task.

2- Make a daily to do list and stick to it

You should begin each work day with a list of goals to be accomplished for the day and commit your day to accomplishing those goals only. Without a clear set of tasks at the beginning of the day, you can meander through your day, touching on multiple tasks, but never fully completing any. Making a bulleted list of things to get done or creating an hour by hour breakdown are great ways to keep your day structured and organized.

3- Use an online organizer to keep track of multiple clients, deadlines, and projects

Online project managers, which help you to keep track of multiple projects, deadlines, and clients, can help you to stay organized when you have a lot of moving parts. Getting bogged down and confused by all of the different things you need to accomplish for different clients can seriously inhibit your productivity. Online organizers like Asana and Monday can keep you organized so that you can better organize and manage your work week.

4- Experiment with different productivity methods

Humans are always searching for ways to become more productive, ways to get more done in a short 24 hour day. A popular productivity/ time management method is The Pomodoro Technique. Developed in the late 1980’s, The Pomodoro Technique consists of setting a timer for 25 minutes, working on a task with undivided attention for those 25 minutes, stopping and taking a 5 minute break when the timer rings. Then, you restart the process all over again. After you’ve had four consecutive 25 minute interval sessions, also known as pomodoros, you then take a longer 15 to 30 minute break. This technique allows you to maintain freshness of the mind and not become burnt out from staring at one project or task for hours on end.

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5- Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks

Anyone who’s skilled in time management delegates tasks. It’s one of the best ways to simply have more time. By handing off tasks and duties to someone else, you are able to make more time for yourself, your own tasks, or urgent tasks. While it can be hard to relinquish control, as long as you learn the right way to delegate, and avoid micromanaging, delegating tasks can be the ultimate time management tool.

6- Automate what you can

We live in such a technologically advanced world these days, there is almost nothing you can’t automate. From social media posts to email newsletters to web updates and more, you can automate just about every aspect of your business. Imagine how long it takes for you to go into social media, decide what to post to keep your account active, create a post, a caption, and a photo (depending on the platform). Now imagine how much time you’d save if you used a social media automation tool to post. This is just one example of an aspect of your business that can be automated for efficiency and better time management.

7-Identify and Eliminate Time Wasters

This goes hand in hand with automation and delegation. Identify what you take time out of your daily tasks to complete, identify things that are wasting your time. Perhaps it’s your social media management. Maybe it’s running tech support in the office because the wifi went out for the third time this week. Or maybe it takes you 30 minutes to refill the ink cartridges in the printer each week. Or how it takes you over a month to figure out the accounting and taxes for your business. Whatever it is that’s wasting your time, eliminate it! Outsource these jobs to other people, delegate tasks to your employees. You can improve your time management tremendously just by removing time wasting tasks from your to do list. 

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8- Learn to live by the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule is one of the most helpful methods of time management. The method essentially states that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. What does this mean in terms of time management? Let’s put it in terms of a to-do list. The rule suggests that two out of ten items on that to do list will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together. But where does the problem come in? Often, people will procrastinate on the top 20% of tasks, known as the important “vital few”, while wasting their time on the other 80%, or the “trivial many”. 

To fully harness the time management capabilities of the 80/20 rule, you will need to apply it to your everyday work life. To do this, each day, take a look at your to do list. Now ask yourself, if you could only accomplish one of the goals on that list today, which one goal would be the most important, most productive, make the most impact? Then continue to ask yourself that question after each task is crossed off of your to-do list. Get ready to see massive productivity results after starting this method.

9- Organize your workspace

A cluttered workspace can lead to a cluttered mind, which slows productivity and leads to procrastination, confusion, laziness and mistakes. Make sure all areas of your workspace are clean and organized to maximize productivity and improve your overall work experience.

10- Don’t procrastinate!

Procrastination is the polar opposite of productivity and quality time management. Procrastination is the enemy. Oftentimes, we find ourselves procrastinating because the thought of starting a task, especially a large one, or the first one on a large to do list, is too daunting for us to even want to begin. A way to combat this is to just dive right in. Don’t think, just start working. Sounds easier than it actually is, right? A fun method to get yourself to just jump right into a project is to count backwards from 5. Once you finish the countdown, you have to get up, or put down the phone, or stop doing whatever you were doing to procrastinate. This countdown method really works, so next time you find yourself procrastinating, give it a try.

Now that you’re equipped with the 10 best time management tips for business owners, you’re on your way to becoming a more productive, more organized, less stressed version of yourself! Try these tips, tricks, and techniques, get ready to watch your productivity soar like never before.

4 Tips to Effectively Ask for Help—and Get a Yes

Social psychology shows people are eager to help—if you know how to ask.

If you’ve ever glanced at the acknowledgments section of a good book, or listened to an Academy Awards acceptance speech, you know that no one achieves great things in a vacuum. Even with these seemingly individual accomplishments, there are countless people behind the scenes offering their skills, insights, and expertise to propel someone else into the limelight.

As highly social animals, we humans depend on one another to learn and grow. What’s more, research shows that helping others actually makes us feel good and that generosity is likely an important evolutionary adaptation for our species. If we are hardwired for altruism, why then is it so uncomfortable for us to ask for help?

In a society that praises self-help and self-reliance, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to ask our colleagues, friends, and even our family for the assistance we need. The mere thought of asking for help can eat away at our ego, undermine our confidence, make us question our abilities, and even paralyze us with anxiety. Yet in modern life—at a time when we are more digitally connected and emotionally detached than ever—the stark reality is that no one can go it alone.

Learning how to ask for (and accept) help is perhaps one of the greatest skills you can develop. Luckily, new research shows that asking for and actually getting help is a lot easier and less daunting than it seems

But first, let’s examine our contradictory reluctance to take advantage of this evolutionary altruism.

 

Why Is Asking for Help So Hard?
The primary reason is fear. We fear that we’ll be turned down, laughed at, or revealed to be a fraud. Though these fears are usually unfounded, we are loathe to ask for help because this seemingly simple act carries a number of high social risks: rejection, vulnerability, diminished status, and the inherent relinquishing of control. In the face of these threats, fear overrides reason and, as studies in neuroscience show, this risk of emotional pain activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain.

Another reason why asking for help seems so hard is that we are pretty terrible at articulating our needs in a way that someone can offer constructive aid. This is partially due to a cognitive bias that social psychologists call the illusion of transparency, or the mistaken belief that our feelings, thoughts, and needs are obvious to other people. Too often, we wait for someone to notice our telepathic plea for help and inevitably get frustrated when no one does.

It should go without saying that in order to receive help, you often have to ask for it. The high stakes and awkwardness of asking in our highly individualistic culture pose obstacles for many of us. But the best way to get more comfortable asking for help is to get better at it.

4 Tips to Ask for (and Get) Help
Here are some simple tips to empower you to effectively ask for the help you need, and ensure that you get a yes in response to your thoughtful request.

1. Be concise and specific. Asking for and offering help can only be productive under one crucial condition: clear communication. Try to communicate your request as clearly and concisely as possible. There is no need to over-explain: simply describe what the task is, why it matters, and how the person you’re asking can contribute. Try to be as specific as possible so they know exactly what it is they will need to do and can accurately judge how much time and energy the task will take.

Furthermore, be willing to negotiate. Let them decide how much support they can offer and try to find a mutually beneficial solution.

2. Don’t apologize. Don’t apologize for asking for help. No one gets excited about a task that the asker feels the need to apologize for. We all need help sometimes and it’s nothing to be ashamed of—but apologizing makes it seem like you’re doing something wrong by asking and casts the task at hand in a negative light.

On that note, don’t minimize your need with phrases like “I hate to ask…” or “It’s just a small thing.” This suggests that their assistance is trivial and takes the joyous sense of accomplishment out of helping. After all, how am I supposed to feel if you “hate to ask” for my assistance? Similarly, don’t ask them to do you a favor. This can make people feel obliged to say yes.

3. Make it personal, not transactional. Don’t ask for help over email or text. Though it’s easier to send a written request, it’s also a lot easier to say no to one. Try to speak face to face or call. Studies show that face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful!

Make your request more personal by explaining why the person’s skills or expertise make them uniquely suited to this task. This casts them as a helpful person and not just another person you can resort to for help. Studies show that when people are asked to “be a generous donor”—rather than simply asked to donate—they are more likely to say yes and donate larger sums.

Finally, don’t emphasize reciprocity. While we tend to think that sweetening the deal with the promise of a returned favor is a good strategy, this kind of language makes your request feel transactional. People don’t like feeling indebted to others, and others are more likely to help you if you show genuine appreciation for their aid rather than assign their efforts a monetary value.

4. Follow up with results. Beyond expressing your gratitude, you should follow up with the helper to share the tangible results of their aid. As much as we’d like to think that acts of generosity are their own reward, the reality is that people long to feel effective. We want to feel that the work we do and the help we give matters. Take the time to show the people who help you why their support not only matters to you, but how it makes a larger impact on your life, work, or community.

Next time you think you need some help, remember that there are more people than you think who are eager to lend a hand. More importantly, use these suggestions to ask in a way that empowers you and the person you’re asking to reap the rewards of generosity and collaboration.

 

We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals

10 Ways To Use Working Remotely Or Self-Quarantining As An Opportunity

 

Amidst the things you cannot control, what you can control is your attitude.

Even in this crisis we can be grateful for all the things and people we tend to take for granted – like our families and friends, teachers and coworkers, fellow students, the coffee people we see every day, our health, fresh air, and the freedoms we have to go places and the abundance of places we could normally.

Being “stuck” at home gives us the gift of time, since we don’t have to commute or take our kids to soccer, school or events. So, it’s an opportunity to use this time to be creative and productive in other ways.

 

Here are 10 ways you can leverage the time you’re home and unable to socialize normally – and most are free*:

1. Call people you haven’t spoken to in a while: Take the time to reach out and see how people you care about are doing across the country or even across the globe, since you can use Skype or Zoom video conference for free.

2. Catch up on webinars and online courses: You may have webinars or free online courses you’ve thought would be great but haven’t had time to do, or you may find some in a brief search of your favorite sources. Edx and Coursera offer free courses from top universities, including Harvard, Stanford, or the University of London, on everything from business to health to diplomacy, for example. You can use this time at home to enhance your knowledge your skills.

3. Do arts and crafts projects: From knitting to scrapbooking to organizing photos (even putting printed ones in albums) to mending socks, or painting a chair you’ve always wanted to paint, now you have the time to do it. Jack Canfield is a fan of vision boards, which he says help you visualize and focus on your goals, so you might make one of those.

4. Listen to podcasts or audio books: There are zillions of podcasts and audio books out now, many with very useful information about careers, health, business, relationships, industries, or you can listen to a novel….pick your topic. I have a podcast too, called Green Connections Radio, where I interview innovators and leaders in the energy-climate-sustainability space about careers, innovation, leadership, their industry and business – who happen to be women.

5. Start the book you’ve thought about writing: If you’re just starting your book, don’t overthink it or worry about your writing skills at this point. Just jot down notes about what you want to write about and potential points you want to make or sources you might want to include. Nothing is committed at this stage. Start writing! Once you have some prose, what you think you want to say for a while, and you decide to take a break from writing, draft an outline of potential chapters. If you’ve already started a book, here’s the gift of time to keep writing.

6. Journal: Write about your experience managing this crisis in your work or school life, or with your family or community. You can publish it for free on Medium or LinkedIn, or Facebook, or many other platforms. Be sure to write it in Word on your computer and keep it for yourself too. Even if you don’t have a computer or internet access, you can write with pen and paper. Some best-selling novelists only write that way to this day.

7. Cook or bake new recipes: If you like to cook or bake, now you have a bit more time to try new recipes. I like to read a few recipes and take ideas from each one and then get creative – unless I’m making something that requires me to follow the recipe exactly. Baking generally requires more precision, for example.

8. Read a book: There are so many great books out to read. Whether you want to be transported into a story with a novel, or back in time through a history book or biography, or to get a new perspective in a business or self-help book, there are plenty of choices. You can find ebooks, or order them online to be delivered, too. I am a major bibliophile, aka book freak, and have lots of bookcases, so I am entirely biased on this one – and have lots of suggestions. If you want ideas, ask me via Twitter.

9. Clean and/or declutter your home: While you’re wiping down every surface multiple times a day anyway, now you have the time to do some deeper cleaning. Maybe wash floors, windows, clean out your closets, discard clothes you don’t wear anymore, clean pictures on the wall, dust furniture you haven’t touched in a while, clean out your refrigerator or pantry. You might also tackle your 2019 taxes and organize your finances.

10. Go for a long walk, just to walk: Walking is one of the best ways to clear your head, enjoy fresh air, get some exercise and explore your neighborhood. You don’t need to know where you’ll go, just head out and follow sidewalks. Maybe listen to podcasts or music along the way. I’m a big walker every day, so I admit my bias. And smile at people as you go by, acknowledging them, too. We’re all in this together.

So, you can choose. You can either think of yourself as trapped, isolated and miserable, or you can be grateful you’re healthy and have the freedoms you do have, and you can use the time to do things you’ve wished you had the time to do.

 

We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals

 

 

Don’t Let Perfection Be the Enemy of Productivity

Productivity isn’t about getting more done. It’s about what you get done. Three aspects of perfectionism can interfere with your ability to prioritize the most important tasks.

1. You’re reluctant to designate decisions as “unimportant.”

There’s an argument that, for unimportant decisions, you should either decide quickly or outsource the decision. 

But perfectionists have a hard time designating decisions as unimportant. They like to be in control of everything. Why? Because imperfections bother them more than they do other people. If something goes wrong, perfectionists might feel explosive frustration or a niggling sense of irritation that’s hard to ignore, and they don’t want to take that risk.

Sometimes, perfectionists are so accustomed to micromanaging that it doesn’t even occur to them that any decision is unimportant. They’re blind to it. They habitually and automatically classify everything as worthy of their full effort.

Solution: In modern life, decision fatigue can be intense. A perfectionist can learn to love giving up control over some choices if they pay attention to how good it feels to be relieved of the decision-making burden. Try using heuristics to quickly decide or delegate with the expectation that you will get much faster and pretty good decisions overall but not perfect ones. For instance, one of my heuristics is: if I’ve thought about doing something three times, I will get on and do it without further deliberating. For a useful decision-making matrix, see this tweet.

2. You feel morally obligated to overdeliver.

The belief that you need to beat expectations in any situation can manifest in many ways.

Let’s say someone offers to pay you $1,000 for a service. If you’re a perfectionist, providing $1,000 of value might not seem like enough. You might think that you need to give what your competitors would charge $1,500 for because you want to outperform. You think: “If I don’t overdeliver, I’m underdelivering.” 

Or if you judge that 24 hours is a respectable timeframe in which to respond to a colleague’s email, you might set your own bar at within six hours. The key point is that you believe what’s generally reasonable doesn’t apply to you, and your own standard needs to be different.

Sometimes this line of thinking comes from wanting an excessive cushion; for instance, you think “if I aim to deliver 1.5X or 2X value for all the services I provide, then I’m never going to under-deliver.” It can also be driven by anxiety, insecurity or imposter syndrome; for instance, you think the only way to prevent anyone from being disappointed or unhappy with you is by always exceeding expectations. Perfectionists also sometimes imagine there will be catastrophic consequences if they fail to overdeliver; for example, they worry a client won’t want to work with them if they take a day to answer an email request, even if it’s a non-urgent query and they’re happy with everything else.

Solution: Have a plan for how you’ll course-correct if you notice these thought patterns. Understand what it’s costing you to always aim for outperformance. What else don’t you have time, energy, attention, and willpower for? Perhaps your own health, your big goals, or your family. If you assess that the costs are significant, try having a rule of thumb for when you’ll overdeliver. For instance, you might decide that in three out of ten situations in which you have the urge to do so, you will, but not in the other seven. 

Situation-specific habits can help you, too. For instance, if a reporter sends me more than six questions for an article they’re working on, I’ll generally answer six or so questions in detail, and either minimally answer or skip the others. (I probably give better answers using this strategy because I focus on the areas in which I have the most interesting things to say.)

3. You get excessively annoyed when you aren’t 100% consistent with good habits. 

When perfectionists want to adopt new habits, they tend to fall into one of three categories. They bite off more than they can chew and their plans are too onerous to manage; they avoid starting any habit unless they’re 100% sure they can hit their goal every day, which leads to procrastination; or they take on only those habits that they can stick to no matter what. 

Flexibility is a hallmark of psychological health. You need to have the capacity to take a day off from the gym when you’re sick or just got off a late flight, even if it means breaking a streak. You should also be able to shift away from habits that were once important to your productivity or skills development but that you’ve outgrown. Maybe as a beginning blogger, you vowed to always post three times a week, but now that’s burning you out or, as a new real estate investor, you always attended a monthly meetup, but now you get little out of it. 

Sometimes the more-disciplined behavior (deviating from an ingrained habit or pattern of behavior) looks like the less-disciplined one (taking a break). But when conventional self-discipline turns into compulsion, perfectionists may actually be held back by it.

Solution: Have a mechanism in place for checking that you’re not sticking to a habit just because you’re worshiping at the altar of self-discipline. If you’ve never missed a workout in two years (or any other habit), it’s likely there were some days when getting it done wasn’t the best use of your time. Regularly review the opportunity cost of any activities or behaviors you diligently do to make sure they are currently the best use of your physical and mental energy.   

Perfectionism is often driven by striving for excellence, but it can be self-sabotaging if it leads to suboptimal behavior like continuing habits beyond their usefulness, overdelivering when you don’t have to, or overthinking every decision you make.

 

*We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals

Understand This Strategy and You’ll Get More Done

There are countless articles written about productivity. There are courses, videos and coaches who teach entrepreneurs how to get more done. Productivity is important — if you don’t use your time efficiently, you won’t accomplish your goals.

It takes a lot to build a business. There are a myriad of things to consider and different parts that need your attention. You’ll need to build your foundation, create a marketing plan, handle the paperwork, hire employees, farm out subcontracted work, partner with professionals, and much more.

We built our digital marketing agency while working day jobs years ago. It took time but it allowed us to build a business that takes us to 15 countries every year for consulting training and projects at some of the largest companies in the world.

There are a ton of entrepreneurs that build their businesses that way. The one thing you come to understand, when time is limited, is that you won’t get more of it. Time is the one resource you can never recover.

Getting Tasks Accomplished
To get more done, you’ll have to use each moment you have efficiently. That sounds like a simple statement but it goes deeper than the words you’re reading. Learning how to use your moments in every circumstance effectively will be your secret weapon to experience more productivity than you thought possible.

This means, when you have an opportunity to focus on business, you do that. You cut out distractions and work through your list. If you’re going to be more efficient, you should have a plan for your time.

Your mindset is an important part of that equation. A hunger for accomplishing a major goal can fuel you past the moments of distraction. It helps you overcome the times when you want to give up. Your “shoulds” have to become “musts.”

Always Moving
As we travel for consulting gigs, we spend a lot of time in airports, lounges, trains, Uber’s, airplanes, hotels, and more. When we have time in those circumstances, we use it to work on our projects and client projects. Life will always be moving for you. In addition to being an entrepreneur, you’re a human being. You have family, friends, and other responsibilities. There will always be something to do so you have to create your productivity.

You will have times dedicated to work but you can create time in-between the moments of life’s busyness. Change your mindset. Don’t think, “I only have X amount of time to get things done.” Think, “I will use every moment of the time I do have effectively.”

Batch and Say NO More
Scheduling set amounts of time to work on similar tasks is a common and efficient way to get more done. Batching helps you manage time and task management.

You would take an objective look at the things you want to accomplish during a day or week. You look at what makes sense to work on together and during what block of time. You schedule “batch sessions” and get to work.

We batch content creation time in our agency, for example. I’m guessing there are tasks you could batch. Try it. This may not be a strategy that works for you or that you do long term but it could help.

 

Also, learning how to say NO to people and things that take up your time and aren’t helping you accomplish your goals is important. When you say NO to what’s not the right fit, you free up time to work on what does.

You should be your first priority. Making sure you’re focused and doing the things that help you become the best and strongest you. If you’re not good, you can’t be good for others. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Say NO to meetings that waste your time, conversations with entrepreneurs who are all talk, and requests for your time from random people on social media and email. Say NO to anything that doesn’t help you get more done. Be selfish with your time.

This can be one of your most productive and effective years if you’re willing to develop the systems and strategies. Create your success by using the time you have wisely. Only you know what that means for you.

 

*We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals