Do you often find yourself wishing you had more time? Or wondering how you were so busy throughout the day, yet you’re still left with a long list of things to do?  You’re not alone. One of the most common problems business owners struggle with is time management. Especially for small businesses or those in the scaling stages, there’s just a lot that needs to be done, too little time, and not enough manpower. Successful entrepreneurs know that good time management is essential – after all, time is a limited asset, making it invaluable. If you lose money, you can find ways to make it back; but a wasted hour cannot be re-lived again. Being able to manage your time effectively not only results in higher productivity but also leads to a better work-life balance.

Here are 3 popular techniques used by many industry leaders to help you master time management:

  1. Put a dollar value to your tasks.

You may already have the habit of writing down your tasks for the day – but the tyranny of the To-Do list is that it builds up. Even when you check off one thing, another thing (or two) just pops in its place. Here’s an approach that might help create a leaner, more manageable list:

    1. Create a list of all the usual tasks you have for each week.

    2. Then, categorize each item on the list according to its impact by assigning a monetary value to it. For example:

      $1000 – tasks with significant, immediate impact to your bottom line
      $100 – important and requires some expertise
      $10 – necessary, can be done by anyone, adds little value

    3. Delegate the $10 tasks. A big part of learning to efficiently manage your time is acknowledging that you can’t do it all. And that you shouldn’t have to. Consider finding an assistant – a virtual assistant can take a lot of things off your plate and help you with your daily activities. Of course, it’s important that you take the time to find skilled employee who doesn’t need too much oversight (micromanaging is an unnecessary time drain). A great EA or VA will get things done for you, freeing up your time for higher-level, 1000-dollar tasks.

  1. The Pomodoro Technique

Taking breaks may seem counterproductive – but many studies show that they actually promote better concentration and help ward off mental fatigue. Our brains are generally wired to respond to our surroundings (and its many distractions); so instead of working against this and forcing ourselves on one long, exhausting session, it’s better to break down a major task to smaller ones and work in short, focused intervals. This popular time management hack developed in the 1980s banks on the science behind taking breaks and works this way:

    1. Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on a single task (or pomodoro) until it rings.

    2. After which, enjoy a 5-minute break before starting on another task.

    3. At the end of 4 pomodoros, take a 15-minute break before going back to work.

When following this technique, it’s important to be in tune with your own creative flow. You can adjust the timing (longer work sessions, longer breaks) as necessary; what’s important is you train your mind to function in a work-break pattern as this works with your body’s natural pulse and pause rhythm and allows your cognitive capacity to recharge.

  1. The Pareto Principle

In today’s technology-driven world, there are an abundance of tips, apps, courses, and the like that promise to help you manage your time better. These resources are great, but unless there is a perception shift – in the sense that you’re able to change the way you think about time – they’ll be temporary fixes.

The Pareto Principle is a concept that changes your purview of time. It posits that 80% of results come from 20% of the action. This imbalance is evident in many economic situations: 20% of sales reps generate 80% of the sales, 20% of customers account for 80% of the profit, 20% of patients account for 80% of healthcare expenditure, etc. It isn’t exactly 80-20 all the time; but, when applied to time management, the principle says that majority of your output should come from a small chunk of your time.

The basic idea behind it is prioritization – not everything holds even significance, so you must decide which activities have the most impact and how to maximize your resources in supporting these. It ties back in to the first item in this list; some tasks are better of ditched or delegated. Some helpful questions to ask are: Am I wasting too much time on specific tasks? Am I the most qualified person for this task? Does this task help me reach my number one goal? Warren Buffett is a firm believer of this principle, creating a derivation of it called the 5/25 rule.  

Time is an equalizer. You can be a CEO or an entry-level employee, you’ll have 24 hours in a day like everyone else. Whether or not you choose to adapt any of these methods, the difference will come down to how you use your hours. Make sure to make them count.

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