We have all read books that tell us how important our time is, but most don’t simplify it in one page with vital tips. Well, I have. I teach, praise and live by these techniques, which allow you to manage your time better — so you can invest more of it in developing yourself and your leadership.
Not every tip will work for every entrepreneur, but they are a key to how I got to where I am today.
- Start by organizing and simplifying. Stay organized. Label files using logic that makes sense to you. Keep important, frequently referenced documents in a folder. The less time you spend searching for items, the more time you have to focus on important tasks. We all get inundated with and submerged in work, but we need to remember that by taking the time now to organize, time saved hunting for important information in the future will add up.
- Multitask with intention. We live in a fast-paced environment where people are continuously taking on more work than they can do. By multitasking you can accomplish a lot more. Let me be clear — it is very important not to multitask to the point where you lose focus. If you are on the phone with a client, you probably shouldn’t be typing an email. For instance, I get a lot of work done while at the gym. I get on the elliptical and spend the hour working the lower half of my body and sending emails at the same time. I’m still getting an incredible workout and I feel less stressed after the gym knowing I was able to get work done.
- Write your to-do list the night before. A surprising number of very successful people share this habit. Knowing what your workload will look like the following day will help you rest more easily. You’ll also be able to refer to it if you realize you’ve forgotten something overnight, and part of you will be thinking about the following day’s activities, helping you feel more prepared to meet unique challenges or new situations.
- Read “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. This is one of the most inspirational and informative books I’ve ever read. Ferrazzi details, in an entertaining story fashion, the best tactics to networking effectively, with generosity, and in a way that ensures everyone wins. Our lives, in business and outside, are largely dictated by the health and strength of our connections.
- Set aside personal time. When you’re done at work, be done with work. An unbalanced life isn’t healthy. Just like our bodies and minds need the rejuvenation that happens during sleep, our “work muscles” need time to rest, recuperate and ruminate on new information. Remember to commit as much time, effort and love into your non-work relationships as your work relationships (including time with yourself!).
- Turn off the TV. Invest in yourself. Instead of submitting to the urge to tune out in front of the tube, read. Whether you’re reading something that will directly help you improve your performance, strategy or outreach at work, or you’re reading a book strictly for pleasure, you’ll be doing yourself a great service. Our minds need new information, and from varied sources, to continue growing.
- Listen to audio CDs while driving. There is so much to learn. Audio books are readily available, both on CD and for download (try www.audible.com for a wide, high-quality selection) and that long commute could work in your favor. Start your day with a motivational CD to get you pumped up for work, or listen to an industry-specific talk to gain insight and new tools.
Remember, time management works a little bit differently for everyone. If you remember to take notes, streamline and use your time wisely, you’ll see your time management — and outlook — improve.
Nicole Smartt is the Vice President and co-owner of Star Staffing. She was awarded the Forty Under 40 award, recognizing business leaders under the age of 40. In addition, Nicole co-founded the Petaluma Young Professionals Network, an organization dedicated to helping young professionals strive in the business world. Nicole can be found on twitter; @StaffingqueenN.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.