FACT: I’ve written and shared a LOT about time management in the past. Why? Because it’s such a constant source of stress in the lives of my fellow entrepreneurs, and I think there’s always more to learn. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to get better at work/life balance, and I know I’m incredibly grateful for this growing community so we can all help each other figure out what it means and what is required to be a thriving entrepreneur in the 21st century.
Now over the years, I’ve tested so many hacks on how to become more productive, and today I’m gonna share the best of the best of them with you. I really hope a few of these will help you become more of a time management ninja, because let’s face it… time truly is our more valuable commodity. You ready?
1. Track your time automatically.
The sentiment here may not be new, but if you don’t already know, there are apps and tools out there that can track your activity in a day to help you learn where your time goes and help you maximize your productive times. A favorite of mine is RescueTime, which monitors your computer time all day long and then categorizes it for you and gives you a productivity rating score. They have a free and paid version, but if you don’t want to download and learn a whole new program, consider simply recording your screen for one working day using a piece of screen capture software. Just knowing you’re being “watched” all day (even if it’s only by yourself!) can go a long way toward keeping yourself accountable.
2. Give yourself less time than you need.
If you think you need until Thursday at 5 to meet that deadline, give yourself until Thursday at noon. This sounds so simple, but it’s life-changing. In addition… committing publicly to your social media friends that you’ll finish this, or that, by Wednesday at 3 pm can also be a game-changer.
3. Schedule EVERYTHING.
If you looked at my calendar on most days, you might think I never have a moment to breathe. I schedule every minute of every working day with things that need to get done, and maybe on first glance, it looks a little overwhelming. But here’s the interesting part: it’s only since I’ve been scheduling every little thing that I have MORE free time than ever. When I left my calendar open and clear, I worked 17 hours a day and never saw the finish line. Now that I schedule every little thing into its own time block, I work a regular 6-hour day and… I take every Friday off completely. Not only am I more relaxed and productive at work than I’ve ever been in any other time in my life, but I get to spend more time with my family than ever! Try it for for a few weeks, and I bet you’ll fall in love with what I call #NoWorkFriday
4. Speed up your consumption time.
If you spend a lot of time-consuming podcasts and audio books, this tip is for you. Bump up the speed on that audio player! Most players have a speed function built in, and you can save SO much time by playing your content at 1.25, 1.5, or even 2x the standard speed. And here’s a pro tip: pop in the headphones when listening at an increased speed. They seem to help the brain catch on faster! And for those of you who have a million tabs open with stories and blog posts you’d like to read “when you have time,” consider the NaturalReader app, free in the app store. It automatically converts written text to audio so you can get through your “to-be-read” pile a lot faster than usual.
5. Save email until after lunch.
This one is HUGE for those of you who check email first thing in the morning and then spend the rest of the day reacting to whatever’s in your inbox. Try leaving that inbox closed and unchecked until after lunch, by which time you’ll have had a few hours of focused and uninterrupted work time to brainstorm, work ON your business, and just generally settle into a creative, innovative state of mind.