Perfect Time Management in Just 6 Steps – Birds on the Blog

Perfect Time Management in Just 6 Steps

Developing good time management skills will help you to focus on the priorities and achieve more every day.

Here are my 6 Ps to Perfect Time Management:

  1. Prepare
  2. Prioritise
  3. Productivity
  4. Performance
  5. Payment
  6. Pretend!

If you’ve started a new business, it can be a really fun and exciting time. However, there’s so much to do that it can also be challenging and at times, really stressful.

Even if you started your business to do what you love, there will be times when other less interesting, but essential tasks take you away from the fun stuff. You then perhaps begin to wonder “Have I done the right thing?”

Running a business is challenging and extremely hard work. There’s lots to do at the outset and then, when your enterprise begins to grow, doing everything alone is likely unachievable.

Even with a passion for your business concept, it’s really easy to become overwhelmed with everything that needs doing and your to-do list can become so long that it’s often difficult to decide what to do next.

This is when scrolling through social media, or even tidying the kitchen, washing the dishes and doing laundry is a tempting distraction to everything else…

It’s perhaps time to consider what can be outsourced so you can focus on strategy, on growing your business and doing what you love again. However, if that’s not an option right now, then give these tips a go:

  1. Prepare – look forward and ahead in your diary to identify up and coming commitments and spend a little time preparing for them. This may be as simple as printing out papers for a meeting, checking exactly where it will take place and adding the details and perhaps documents to the calendar icon. Or being aware of regular tasks, for example, the date when your invoices need sending out so blocking out time in your diary in order to have the time to complete this work.  Take a look at your appointments for the following month, especially if you will need to travel as purchasing tickets in advance will usually be cheaper. Try to avoid travel and see if the meeting can be via video, or even a phone call – a more acceptable request in these covid pandemic times.
  2. Prioritise – it’s so easy to work on what we enjoy doing as opposed to what we should be doing, but these unpleasant essential tasks won’t go away, they will still be there, waiting. Could you Eat that Frog? According to Brian Tracy, the author of this book, he believes that completing the most disagreeable task first will improve productivity for the rest of the day.  The sense of achievement is worth the pain of doing something unpleasant or challenging.  Also identify the task that could have a detrimental effect on your business if not completed and do it, no matter how tedious. You should ensure you are undertaking at least one task per day which will help grow your business.

Try the Eisenhower Matrix to identify what you should be working on.

Divide a page into four quadrants:

Label the first column ‘URGENT and the second ‘LESS URGENT’. Label the first row ‘IMPORTANT’ and the second ‘LESS IMPORTANT’.

Then pop your tasks into the most relevant quadrant.

  • Urgent and Important tasks should be prioritised.
  • Less Urgent and Important work can be scheduled for another time, but not too far ahead.
  • Urgent and Less Important tasks can likely be delegated.
  • Less urgent and Less Important work may not need completing at all.

Find out more here:

  1. Productivity – work on one task at a time and resist distractions. Check your emails, but then turn off the alerts whilst you focus on something else.  It’s tempting to respond to each message as soon as it arrives and to even feel that this is now expected, but multi-tasking is just not productive. Unless you are waiting on an urgent message, read and respond to your emails just two or three times per day. Consider adding a sentence to your email signature informing senders the times when you will be checking emails and what they need to do to alert you when the message is particularly urgent.  Block time in your diary for all tasks, just as you would an appointment and, where possible, work on the designated task accordingly. See our earlier blog on Time Blocking Treat yourself as you would treat an important client. After-all, you are just as essential to your business as they are.
  2. Performance – it is now recognised that we don’t work to optimum performance after around 20 minutes activity. Even if you have a long report to write, it’s not productive to sit there for hours on end as your concentration will have lessened within a short time.  Take a break, stretch, get a drink and re-focus your eyes by looking into the distance before resuming work.  Identify when you are most alert and productive and schedule appropriate tasks during these times. You may be able to concentrate better in the morning, but are more creative later in the afternoon. Take a look at the Pomodoro Technique (which even has a tomato timer) to help you practice concentrating for 20-30 minutes maximum, before having a short break, then changing your focus: and
  3. Payment – if you are working for yourself, especially on an hourly rate, there can be no better motivation to manage your time efficiently than being paid. Calculate the minimum number of hours you need to focus on fee generating work each week and schedule other tasks around this.  Consider other ways of charging by introducing retainers, packages or power hours etc and research ways of earning a passive income that doesn’t require your input full-time. If your workload is heavy and your to-do list too long, automate as much as possible, or consider delegating and outsourcing certain tasks, to an associate, a sub-contractor, virtual assistant or book-keeper for example. These skilled professionals will likely be able to complete tasks much more quickly than you and charge less than the income you can generate during the same time. Ensure invoices are raised on time, overdue payment is chased and taxes are paid on time, to avoid any late payment fees. Go through your regular direct debits as there may be subscriptions that you are paying for but no longer need.
  4. Pretend – that each day is the last working day before your holiday! Apparently, we are at our most productive the day before we take annual leave as we focus on completing as much as possible to leave everything tidy and in order before we depart.  We are able to say “No” more readily without feeling guilt and prioritising seems to be much easier as we identify which urgent tasks need to be done and which can actually wait until our return. We also ensure that there is adequate back-up during our absence and activate an out-of-office message, so why not keep this in place at all times? Have an out-of-office message for when you want to get your head down without distraction from incoming messages. Alternatively, work with a trusted colleague, associate or assistant who can temporarily cover for you and leave them to do this whilst you focus on something else, or even take much needed time out.

Do these tips make sense? Will you give any of them a go? Let us know your thoughts and how you get on!

Nancy Benn VA:

About the Author Nancy Benn

As a versatile Virtual Assistant with more than a decade of experience, I help overwhelmed business owners achieve more by assisting with those essential, but time-suck admin tasks that don't directly generate any income or bring in new sales. By providing flexible admin support, I assist and encourage entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they love in their business and what will generate new revenue by identifying tasks that can be delegated and outsourced. Operating virtually, I can work online from anywhere with good Wifi! Initially based on the Notts/Derbys border, since Autumn 2017 I’ve provided seamless assistance and support to entrepreneurs from 12 different homes in Portugal and Spain. After travelling for two years, hubby Rob and I now live next to the Med amongst the orange groves in Valencia, sharing our lives with two dogs and a parrot.