As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably wondered where the hours in the day go, after you’ve spent 8 to 10 of them in one place, yet feel as if nothing has gotten accomplished. The great irony is that we spend more time reading about how to manage our time, than we do managing it effectively. If there’s any one recipe for managing your time, it would be to adopt a few little tricks that work for you, systematize them, and use them over a long period of time. The key is to start small, with only a handful of techniques, and add on to your repertoire over time. This is why I’m going to introduce you to the 3 ways you can optimize your day as an agile entrepreneur.
Take Breaks Throughout the Day
Some of us make the mistake of working nonstop just because we want to get rid of a project. Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to hold our attention span and energy over the course of several hours, but most of the time we’re not. When you work on something nonstop, your brain enters into shutdown–you’re not focused, you’re not motivated, and the task will actually take you longer because you’ll be working and thinking about last week’s episode of Mad Men.
The best remedy for this is to take a break every 60 to 90 minutes. Allow yourself to break for at least 15 minutes before resuming to work. Get up, do a bit of exercise, drink a glass of water, or do some other activity that doesn’t require a lot of focus or brainpower. You will come back to your work refreshed.
Do The Most Important Thing First
Forget having the 20-item to-do list. It’s not very encouraging to look at a big list of things that you still haven’t done. Instead, embrace the one-item list. Right now you know that there is something that you need to get done. Instead of working on it, you’re reading this article. You know what that task is, and you’ve been putting it off simply because you don’t want to start it.
But what if I told you that once you complete that task, every other annoying little task will just fall into place and not take much effort? Practice writing only one item on your to-do list each day. Write down the most pressing and important task that you have to do; it’s a task that, if you accomplish it, will have great results for you and your business.
By the way, that big task doesn’t need to be accomplished today or tomorrow. However, you do need to work on it first today and tomorrow. Over the course of several days you’ll have completed a project of great quality because you put focus and effort into it. A great resource on this is Gina Trapani’s book, Eat That Frog!
Just Get it Done
Sometimes we spend more energy on completing meaningless tasks, than we do on working on the big and important ones. What would you rather put more effort into? Reading an entire report on the new water cooler in your office, or those detailed instructions that a client gave you? Whatever the unimportant but urgent tasks you have lined up, just clear them out of the way. If you need to write an e-mail to someone, just get that done. If you need to draft up some somewhat important report, do that too. Just remember: don’t make a big production out of it. Put in enough effort so that it’s good, but not so much that it drains you.
An important thing to remember about optimizing your day and your time is that it all takes a while before you figure out what works for you. Make these tricks into a habit and over time, you’ll be flying through your day.