Preparing for the New Year: Time Management

As things are starting to slow down a little bit – holiday marketing campaigns launched, holiday parties past, food still settling in our stomachs – it is a good time to look back at how we handled the seemingly perpetual time crunch from October through December. It gives a great reference to where things could be tightened up and improved upon going into this new year, so we can set ourselves up for success! 

Gearing up for the new year, it’s all about structure. Learning how to fine tune your time management will lay the foundation for your success in 2020. As any successful business owner will tell you, managing your time is the only way to reach your goals. To help you march full speed into 2020, we have created a list of a few basics for time management success:

1. Plan ahead

It may seem like common sense, but so often we neglect to do this. Especially when it comes to young entrepreneurs, the tendency is to fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants and rely on their memory to get things done. While independent people will struggle with creating a structure, managing your time intentionally will be the difference between success and failure.    

Start with making a list of everything you want to accomplish at work the next day and figure out what will be the best time to finish each task. This shouldn’t be limited to only work tasks, but also anything that you need to take care of in your personal life as well, so there are no obstacles keeping you from success. 

2. Reassess 

Even if you think you have a solid plan set, new projects and deadlines will likely arise throughout the day.  When this happens, stay calm and simply re-assess your day. You will need to take the time to adjust your schedule accordingly and plan out how you will accomplish your new tasks.  You may feel like you don’t have time to stop and think about how you will get things done, but believe me, taking 30 minutes to plan will pay off in the end; you will actually save time because you will know how to handle everything that comes your way with ease.

3. Prioritize

Priorities tell us where to start, or what to focus on. It is extremely important when you are planning your day, because if things start to become overwhelming or get out of hand, you just focus on the priority. You want to tackle the toughest, most important or urgent project first, so you can ensure they are done and done well. As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about them for the rest of the day! Next, schedule in the rest of your tasks including certain blocks of time to answer phone calls and emails; keep to these times to eliminate unnecessary distractions (this means staying off your cell phone too!).  You may have to fight the urge to respond to an email the second you see the mail icon pop up in the corner of your computer screen, but it is for a good cause. Pauses or turn off notifications if you need to. 

4. Keep Your Calendar Nearby

Whether you like the good ole’ paper bound planners, your digital calendar app, or a mix of the two, it is practically life-saving to utilize your calendar. If ensures that you are not double booking, it gives you the opportunity to plan things in advance, and it can give you a big picture view of where your time is going / has gone in the past. It’s a fantastic tool to keep you on track with your planning. 

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

We all want to be team players but sometimes being too much of a good sport can cause you to be overwhelmed. It is, without a doubt, impossible to say “yes” to everything that comes your way.  In order to manage your time effectively there will be times when you have to say “no.” Choose which tasks are the most significant and will have the biggest impact on you and your work and say yes to those; say no to those that will not.  You can be polite when declining invitations or ideas, or may even be able to come back to them at a later time. If there are too many things that you feel are extremely important and need to be done, it may be time to delegate.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

We all find ourselves in those situations or projects that truly require an extra set (or two) of hands. I find the best way to delegate is to politely reach out to members of your team, explain how you are feeling, and simply ask for help. If you are willing to take the time to explain why you are asking for help and what a great impact your co-workers will have, they will likely be more than happy to help you. If you ask for help, however, you need to trust in others to do the job you have asked of them. Feeling as if you should be watching over their shoulders likely means that you didn’t choose the best fit to assist, or that possibly the project is too important and should be handled directly by you. 

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