If you always reply “I’m so busy!” whenever someone asks how you are, you probably need to brush up on your time management skills. It’s hard, running a business on your own. Days can lurch from exciting to stressful in the blink of an eye, and sometimes that ‘to-do’ list feels like it’s running the entire length of War and Peace. But if your tasks are getting out of control, don’t worry! Help is at hand. We can all get better at time management if we try. To get you started, here are some things to avoid:
- Failing to Prioritise
It’s easy to feel like a headless chicken on some days, flitting randomly from task to task as you try to get everything done. Instead, why not spend a few minutes every morning asking yourself honestly: what really has to be done now, and what could wait?
Prioritising your task list means taking back control of your working day – so you’ll feel less stressed almost immediately.
- Letting Distractions Take Over
How often do you check your social media feeds? Do you stop whatever you’re doing to read every email as soon as it comes in?
Set aside some specific time to check in with Facebook or LinkedIn, and turn off your emails when you’re working. Seriously, you’ll be amazed at how much time this will save you every day!
Procrastination is the sister of distraction, and every bit as deadly. Putting off tasks you know you really should be doing makes you feel guilty, which then creates fear. Result: everything catches up with you and you start to panic!
To help you focus, try setting a fifteen-minute timer as you begin each new task: during that time, focus completely on that task. When the timer goes off, it’s likely you’ll be in full-swing.
- Saying “Yes” When You Should Be Saying “No”
If you’re a classic ‘people-pleaser’, you’ll recognise yourself here!
But you might be surprised to hear that taking on a task when you haven’t got the time for it isn’t helping anybody – least of all you. You’re far more likely to create rushed, substandard work. That’ll affect your reputation, and it’ll also increase the chances of your client looking elsewhere next time.
- Getting lost in the thrill of “being busy”
Be honest: do you secretly enjoy telling people how outrageously busy you are? Being busy creates a buzz; it shows that people need you. But others are far more likely to be impressed by someone who clearly manages their time well, than someone who’s always rushing here, there and everywhere with no plan.
- Working Through Breaks
Breaks are important for helping us focus and recharge. Ideally, we’d all take a 10-minute break after every hour of work, but in reality, hardly anybody does (not if they run their own business, anyway!)
If you can’t persuade yourself that breaks are good for you, try telling yourself how great they are for your clients. They’ll get much better work from you if you’re rested – even if that means grabbing five minutes for a well-deserved cuppa every couple of hours.
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