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Effective Time Management for Entrepreneurs



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From the first time you get a job, it’s very likely that you’ll hear the words “time management” a lot. Middle-managers preach it, entrepreneurs swear by it, and some businessmen owe their existence to it. This article lists tips that will help you manage, if not maximize, your time.

1. Use Goal Setting

A good time management strategy is to set goals. This can be applied to short-term and long-term goals—it doesn’t matter if it’s set for a day, a month, or a year. A key component to setting a goal is to be as specific as possible, and to make them realistically attainable. A vague goal like “earn a million dollars” may have a nice ring to it, but you’ll soon realize it’s a daunting task and you may be at a loss as to how and where to begin. To make your goals concrete and reachable, use the SMART method.

SMART stands for:

Specific: Your goal must state exactly what is to be pursued.

Measurable: Your goal must have a yardstick or measurement tool to track its progress.

Attainable: Instead of setting a goal that’s too high or vague, your goal must be something you can actually reach. Setting a number, whether it’s in dollars and cents, number of hits on your site, or number of customers getting through your door, makes it realistic. You can be ambitious as to what this is, as long as it’s within reach.

Relevant: Base your goals on a straightforward, useful metric. The number of deals closed may not be the best indicator of how close you’ve come to your goal; maybe actual sales numbers will be more significant.

Time-bound: Your goal has to have a deadline. If you don’t set a specific time for it to be accomplished, you may be tempted to procrastinate, and the goal will never be reached.

2. Prioritize Tasks

To avoid tackling different tasks that may not get you closer to your goal, you must then determine the importance and urgency of each of them. Make a list of all your tasks, then classify them according to these groups:

Important and urgent: Top priority. Get this done right away and focus on tasks under this category before anything else.

Important but not urgent: Seemingly important but can be pushed back further down the road.

Urgent but not important: Tasks under this category can be delegated to other people. Assign this to a subordinate who can handle it.

Neither important nor urgent: To put bluntly, a waste of time. Find ways to eliminate things that don’t even qualify to be called “tasks”.

3. Remove Distractions

In this age of social media, multiple communication devices, and other forms of technology, you’d think these would be the top distractions. Surprise! They’re distractions, but not the top distraction. The number one distraction in the office is chatty work colleagues. If you have an “open door” policy, you may need to rethink this, or firmly specify that your door is open to work-related matters and not gossip or idle chatter. Save your socializing with officemates to after-office hours, or during the lunch hour. 

4. Take Time Out

If you’ve successfully eliminated distractions and didn’t allow unimportant tasks to get in the way of your workday or workweek, you can and should take time off. Even if you’re on a business trip, you need to take a break. After all, there are still ways to stay productive while traveling. Be sure to get enough sleep even if you need to put in extra hours. The lack of sleep can actually be counter-productive as one study proved.

5. Keep Track of Time

To see if you’re on track in achieving your goals, take a step back now and then and check how much time you’re taking to work on your tasks. This will give you a better idea if you can reach your goal within your time frame or if you need to streamline your work or put in more time for certain tasks.

Time management is an invention as old as the industrial revolution. Antiquated as it may be, it’s still one of the best ways modern workers can attain their goals and improve their productivity. Many successful entrepreneurs will attest to the usefulness and relevance of  these principles.