When I was younger, growing up felt like it would take an eternity, at times the clock felt like it was going backwards. Move forward a few decades and now you could swear that you’re short changed of hours everyday.
The good news is that with the help of technology and information sharing there are now more ways than ever to tackle the issue of time management and productivity so that you can answer the question of how to manage time and start thinking big!
Everyone operates and functions in different ways, what works for me may not work for you but the end goal is likely the same, personal growth and fulfilment.
So, are there more effective time management techniques that can help you do things better?
Do you know what time management strategies entrepreneurs and everyday people are utilising to get the most out of the hours in their day?
Here are 46 time management strategies that I utilise as part of my entrepreneurial time management system.
1. Start Now!
Doing is better than perfect. You can waste too much time trying to make something perfect. Start now, get it done and the next time you do it you will be better, eventually maybe even perfect.
“Someday is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you” – Tim Ferriss
2. Forget the Excuses
The best time wasters have every excuse under the sun. They are only fooling themselves!
Control your mind and don’t let it trick you into believing excuses. Next time an excuse pops into your head stop and create some awareness around it.
Think for a second:
Hang on where is this excuse coming from?
Am I just using an excuse to trick myself into not having to do something?
Be aware of the decisions you are making and how they will impact you in the long term.
A good friend of mine Nick Mannix was in a horrific accident that left him a tetraplegic. He works his arse off everyday to give himself the chance to walk again one day.
I think of him on a daily basis, especially when I find myself fabricating excuses. In that context there isn’t many excuses for me to not get it done!
You can't change the situation, the only thing you can change is how you deal with it!
3. Prepare Yourself
Don’t hope you're going to have a good day, prepare yourself to have a good day by going through a morning ritual and getting yourself ready in a way that works for you so that you're in the right place to have a great day.
4. The Importance of Daily Rituals
Rituals help you find your rhythm and prepare you best for your next task.
Although your day can be made up of many different rituals, the main two to focus on are your morning and night rituals.
Morning Ritual is the process you go through upon waking to prepare you for the day ahead.
What is crucial here is knowing yourself and what works best for you personally. I feel the best if I get up when I first wake usually around 5.30am. If I sleep in I feel sluggish for the rest of the day.
My morning ritual:
The first thing I do is make the bed and I cheat a little bit here. I only use a sheet on the mattress and then a duvet (no top sheet).
The reason for this is plain and simple:
I don’t like top sheets; they are a pain in the arse and too much work.
It’s so easy to get up, grab your duvet and fling it in the air - bingo your bed is made. First easy win for the day!
Whenever you wash your bottom sheet you wash your duvet cover at the same time. Simple logic; to me anyway. My girlfriend hates it but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hydrate, put on my shoes, grab my headphones and head out the door for a stroll. I go for a walk because it's low intensity and an easy way to get the body going without the pressure of having to push yourself first thing in the morning.
Then I either do a rehab session consisting of stretching and self-massage, go for a quick flat-water paddle or skate some bowls.
This ritual really pumps me up for the day and gets me excited about what I am going to do next. In fact, this article was a result of a mornings walk inspiration. Starting the day with small wins helps you structure your day and find your rhythm.
Night Ritual is the process you go through before going to sleep to wind down for the day and prepare yourself as best as possible to wake up refreshed the next morning.
Finish the day with something that is going to set you up for tomorrow!
For me this is yoga. A session of bikram or hatha flow at Bikram Yoga Prahran sweats out all of the stresses from the day. If I don’t do a yoga class I will spend some time foam rolling in the living room.
After yoga I have a late dinner that I have usually pre-prepared. Then I sit down and identify the 3 most important tasks I have to complete the next day and put them at the top of my Trello list “DOING”.
While doing this I have a hot cup of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of manuka honey. This hot drink is well known and commonly used by the likes of Tim Ferriss, it helps you sleep like a log. I certainly notice a difference and usually will have an uninterrupted sleep.
Although I never have problems with going to sleep this night ritual makes a massive difference when I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed rather than crawl out of bed. I need 7 hours of sleep every night.
A ritual or routine shouldn’t be forced, it’s about finding what works best for you to maximise your time management and productivity, so that you can operate in the most efficient way on a regular basis.
There is always time. Time is priorities.
"Focus on being productive instead of being busy." - Tim Ferriss
6. Organise Your Tasks
The "To Do List" is the nuts and bolts of your daily productivity and with a lot of different apps and methods to choose from your To Do List is still more than likely cluttered with little structure.
Find a simple method that is organised, saves you time and stick to it.
Trello is one of my favourite time management tools. It works extremely well for me purely because it is very simple to use, can be partially automated and integrates with Gmail.
You can create as many Trello boards as you like, however, my main board for organising the day and week ahead is labelled TASKS. I add any tasks as a card to the list WAITING as they come to mind and from there I can drag and drop the task into THIS WEEK, DOING or DONE.
On my board TASKS, I also have a list TO PAY which is where any manually paid invoices are easily added as a card to the list from Gmail.
Manage it on your laptop or desktop but also be sure to download the mobile app so you can add tasks on the go and manage anything from your phone as well.
7. Use Trello With Google Calendar
Using pre made recommended zaps in Zapier you can automate the copying of any events scheduled in your Google Calendar to create new cards in your Trello boards and lists of choice.
I run this zap to add any events scheduled in my Google Calendar for the day ahead automatically to the list DOING in my Trello board TASKS.
8. Schedule All Events in Your Calender With a Reminder
Don’t rely on your brain to remember everything. Always take notes.
9. Manage Your Email Inbox Effectively
Do you have a system in place to manage your emails?
Or is it just deal with it, as you need to?
Having a process in place to deal with your emails can save you a world of hurt and embarrassment when you forget to follow up or reply to important emails.
Since I use Trello I can add any email as a card to any of my lists on my Trello boards by clicking the “Add this Gmail to Trello” icon above an opened email.
I use this for things such as manually paid invoices that are emailed to me and save it to the list “TO PAY” in my TASKS Trello board.
This is also great for emails that require attention later on. Simply add the email as a card to one of your other lists WAITING, THIS WEEK or DOING. Then once it's ready to be taken care of you will have dragged and dropped the card into the task list DOING. This is how I plan for my next day, by dragging and dropping the tasks I want to complete before heading off to bed.
To integrate Gmail to Trello simply download the extension in Google Chrome.
10. Create a Trello Board for Your Assistant and Collaborate
I manage my assistant’s tasks in Trello by creating a board for her which we both have access to. It outlines all the re-occurring weekly tasks as individual cards from Monday through to Friday and I add any tasks I want to assign to her on a one off basis by creating a card and adding it to the list for the relevant day.
Every morning she logs in and sees what is scheduled for the day ahead on top of the re-occurring tasks.
11. Use Google Chrome
It's fast and does not have the compatibility issues that most other browsers have with some software.
12. Utilise Extensions on Google Chrome
By enhancing the functionality of your Chrome browser Chrome Extensions are the little time management strategies that save you a whole lot of time. Here are 100 Chrome Extensions that you should install!
13. Download an Ad Blocker Extension
Advertising is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
People are trained to ignore ads in this day and age and downloading an ad blocker extension is just one of many ways to cut out unwanted messages and delays in productivity online.
I use Adblock Plus and have been running it for almost 2 years. In that time it has blocked a staggering 25,109 ads on my Mac so far! In other words it is simply a must in regards to automated time management technology.
14. Google Drive
As far as cloud based storage goes, Google Drive is excellent for collaborating, storing, syncing and sharing files with ease. You can edit Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word files without converting them. Or save them as a google doc with various formats such as docs, sheets, forms, slides, etc.
Again, make the most of Chrome Extensions and download the Save to Google Drive extension to save web content or browser screenshots to your Google drive quickly and effortlessly.
15. Work is the Best Way to Get Working
Break large tasks into little chunks.
Start with small tasks to get the ball rolling.
Work through one at a time.
16. Stop Multi Tasking at Work
Multi tasking at work kills your focus. Larger tasks should be broken down into smaller tasks and concentrated on one at a time. Its a tried and true time management technique.
17. Start Multi Tasking Outside of Work
Outside of the office you perform a lot more mundane tasks that don’t require a whole lot of concentration. I usually try to get a surf in three mornings a week and make the drive from Melbourne to the coast which is anywhere between 1 hour 20 minutes and 1 hour 40 minutes depending on where I surf. I use this time to listen to long form podcasts and take any notes using a voice recorder so that I am not distracted from driving and can refer back to them later for further study or organisation.
18. Create a Routine that Works
If you’re an entrepreneur you really are working all the time, however, create a routine where you have identified hours to get the important tasks completed and stick to it.
I like to be in the office by 8.00-9.00am and from then until 12.00pm is the timeframe I concentrate on getting the 3 most important tasks I organised the night before done and out of the way for the day.
After lunch I can be in the office from anywhere between 1.00pm to 7.00pm. This is my time to work on tasks going forward whether its strategies, planning or content creation I can cruise along and get things done at my own pace.
Sometimes I might wrap it up and be done by 5.00pm, each day is different to the next but the main focus is getting those 3-4 most productive hours complete at the beginning of my workday.
A typical well time managed routine for me looks like this:
- 05.30am Wake
05.30 – 07.30am Morning Ritual
07.30 – 08.00am Breakfast & Shower
08.00 – 12.00pm Uninterrupted Work
12.00 – 01.00pm Lunch Ritual
01.00 – 5/7.00pm Work
5/7.00 – 07.30pm Free Time
07.30 – 10.30pm Night Ritual
10.30pm - Bed
But remember more work hours doesn’t necessarily mean more productivity.
19. Don’t Slack Off Today Because You Had a Productive Day Yesterday
“Yesterdays home runs, don’t win todays games.” - Babe Ruth
20. Embrace Change, Pivot & Adapt Quickly
Instagram began as Burbn combining elements of Foursquare (check-ins) with elements of the social network game Mafia Wars (hence the name Burbn). Throughout the process the creators saw mobile photos as an awesome opportunity and decided to pivot, strip everything back and focus solely on photos.
This example of pivoting and adapting quickly proved to be a wise decision considering the 2 founders sold the app to Facebook 18 months after launching for $1 billion ($300 million in cash and the rest in Facebook stock).
“You have to be able to adapt quickly. If you aren’t able to adapt to market changes, someone else will.” - Neil Patel
21. Block Out Distractions
I no longer have the Facebook app on my phone, its a trap! It's just too easy to get stuck in the Facebook vortex and waste 20 minutes going through your news feed while you forget what the real reason was that you had to get on your phone for.
Since I have a password manager I generate custom passwords so I actually don’t even know my password to be able to login from my phone using Google either! And I don’t use the password manager app on my phone for that reason also.
I still have the Facebook messenger app on my phone, however, I don’t allow notifications so I am not interrupted by a message and will check to see if I have any messages in my own time.
Same goes with anything else on my phone that isn’t business related; “Allow Notifications” is set to off.
Blocking out distractions in this day and age is crucial in the realm of time management strategies.
22. Record Anything That Distracts You
This way you can revisit it at a suitable time and when you do, you won't have to spend time trying to remember what it was that popped into your head.
23. Keep Mornings / Afternoons Contextual
Switching between projects or clients is unproductive and wastes valuable time.
24. Organise Meetings and Calls Early in The Day
Get them out of the way early so that you have to be prepared the day before. A lot of the time leading up to meetings is wasted if they are set later in the day.
25. Group Similar Calls
Grouping calls of the same context saves a huge amount of time compared to having them placed sporadically throughout the week and it also helps you refine your skills.
26. Leave Time in Between
You know when you're late or rushing to be on time, whatever you were doing gets cut short and you say to yourself “I will finish that later”. Well do you really finish it later? Usually if you do come back to it later it takes twice as much time as it would have if you had a few spare minutes to complete it when you were working on it.
Make sure you give yourself realistic time between meetings and tasks. Having an extra 10 minutes or so up your sleeve lets you complete tasks thoroughly. That way you can pride yourself on being on time and cut down on the time used going back to complete tasks.
27. Move Your body!
It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Do something everyday! You will feel ten times better for it, expelling toxins, increasing energy levels and clearing the mind.
With fitness it doesn’t have to be about pushing yourself all of the time, it's about getting it done.
Sure some days you aren’t going to be in the mood to exercise but don’t let that determine your decision not to do it. Even if you turn up and get it done at 50% intensity you are still winning the day. On the days when your energy levels are at their best you will automatically push yourself without having to find motivation from deep within.
Over time the more exercise you do the more you will feel like pushing yourself.
If you can turn up and get some consistency then in the long run the results and gains will surpass what you imagined possible. For example: Obviously with my work commitments I can't get out and surf everyday, so instead if I can’t get out for a wave I will shoot down to Elwood 10mins away and jump in the bay with my surfboard and do some flat water interval paddling.
A huge percentage of surfing is paddling so if I go and do this for just 20 minutes a day it catapults my surfing. 1. Because I am increasing my paddle fitness and 2. I increase my surfing posture by working on paddle strength, power and endurance.
I will do different drills depending on how I am feeling. If I don’t have much time and I’m not frothing I will do 20 quick sets of 20 explosive strokes. This doesn’t take long or much energy but the benefits are huge and you come away feeling fresh and ready to smash out the rest of the day.
My girlfriend competes in long course Ironman’s (3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run). She trains 7 days a week, anywhere between 2-3 hours/day during the week and 3-8 hours/day in the weekend. She also works full time 40 hours a week! So for me fitting in the time for a 20 minute paddle some days should never be an issue.
Prioritising time for your hobbies is important so that you can get wins in other areas of your life outside of work and business, then when it’s a real grind you will be thankful for some success in other areas.
28. Know Your Body
Knowing your own body and where its weaknesses and strengths lie is vital to getting the most out of every day. Try different sports or training methods. Doing something new will teach you more about your body and you may just find something you like.
It also enables you focus on the weaker areas in your daily rituals. For example, my left hip flexor can tighten if I don’t maintain it which then leads to lower back pain. So as part of my daily rituals, whether it's stretching or foam rolling, this is an area I make sure I focus more attention on every day, if not a few times a day. This minimises or eliminates any problems that may reduce my productivity.
29. Get a Wardrobe Routine
I wear a combination of different coloured AS colour tee-shirts daily.
They are cheap, fit well to my body shape, look tidy and presentable and they are easy to re-order as they wear out, saving any time hassles when deciding what to wear or what clothes to buy.
30. Quit Sugar
What happens if you quit sugar? You’ll feel better than ever.
31. Pre-Prepare Meals
The Daily Burn provides a lot of helpful ideas around pre-preparing meals to save you a lot of time. Being a country lad at heart, most Sundays I will make a stew in a large slow cooker. It's easy to do, loaded with vegetables and goodness and provides meals for me for most of the week. Sometimes I will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! This saves me a huge amount of time and money.
32. Measure Your Level of Discipline
It’s easy to say "yeah I have been out of bed before 6 everyday the last 2 weeks". But do you have the data that brings it into a reality?
Use simple time saving apps to measure custom daily goals, giving you an accurate idea of how disciplined you really are. Keeping a daily record of the things you want to track gives you the ability to identify patterns in your habits from real data.
I use the app Way of Life to track my habits and because it is so efficient to use. I track a big range of things, from did I surf today to did I get to bed before 10.30pm? You can then go back and review how successful you were over the week, months or years and identify areas in your day that might be letting you down or explain why you aren’t improving in certain areas important to you.
33. Have Something to Look Forward to
It could be anything from going for a surf on the weekend to a week-long working holiday. It doesn’t have to be something big or irregular. By finding gratitude in the smallest things, you always have something to look forward to on a daily basis.
I look forward to my cup of cider and manuka honey while I jot down the three most important tasks I want to get done before lunchtime the next morning. I am grateful that it works so well for me and with a forward thinking mind it sets me up to accomplish my goals on a daily basis.
34. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Sometimes it’s the quickest road to where you want to be.
“Sometimes the worst experiences are the ones where you learn the most lessons.”
- Richie McCaw, All Blacks Captain.
35. Be Open to Possibilities
Half of what we know to be true today may be proved wrong in 20 years time.
36. Give Your Mobile Apps Some Order
There are various ways to organise your mobile apps to save you time and it really comes down to personal preference in regards to the way you think for maximum efficiency. I like to organise my apps in folders labelled with verbs and in alphabetical order.
37. Collaborate With Slack
20% of your day can be easily spent chasing information or getting someone to help with specific tasks. Whether by email, instant messaging or face to face its a huge cause of poor time management.
Slack has taken care of this problem in the work environment by bringing communication together in one place, being extremely customisable and the ability to work across just about every device you use, which is why it now dominates the collaboration software market.
Best of all Slacks free plan provides plenty of great features so chances are it won't cost you a cent!
38. Use Online Bookmarks, Create Folders and Organise Your Toolbar
I bookmark anything I use regularly or that’s important to refer to later. Google Chrome lets you sync your bookmarks so you can easily access them at anytime from another device by logging into your Google account. This is especially helpful when updating computers.
Create folders to easily organise any web pages you bookmark.
39. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
Just start with one basic command! You will appreciate the small amount of time it saves you and will encourage you to add more shortcuts to your keyboard skills repertory.
40. Upskill, Learn and Grow
If you’re not continuously learning then you’re not utilising your time and pushing yourself to grow and improve.
Self-teaching is a lifelong journey, embrace it with online learning sites like Lynda which has unlimited access with a subscription starting at $35aud/month and Udemy the world’s largest online learning centre with the ability to purchase individual courses to help anyone learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal growth at a reasonable price. I use both and highly recommend them to catapult anything self-taught to maximise your productivity and get ahead.
“Nothing comes easy. You have to learn how to do things.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
41. Create Processes for Everything
Get good at documenting the process you go through when completing tasks.
If you can document your processes in a simplified and easy manner so that someone who knows nothing about the task could follow it, then you are well on your way to scaling your business in the most efficient manner possible.
The process of creating processes might seem time consuming and don’t get me wrong it is, however this will save you a tremendous amount of time further down the road as you delegate tasks. Giving you more time to concentrate on the important things like growing your business.
Not only should you be doing this but everyone within your business should be as well. Creating a centralised hub for your company’s processes online. Every time a process is improved or streamlined the first thing you do is go back and update the appropriate processes in your process hub.
This safe guards you from disasters like having employees or freelancers up and leave without notice because each process for every task they are responsible for completing is documented in a simple step by step manner and can be assigned to someone else.
I will often spend my Saturday mornings creating and updating processes because I know the time it saves me when I have a task to assign to an assistant, employee or freelancer. Having the process outlined step by step and optimised over time means I don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining and demonstrating the task to someone or corresponding back and forth a huge amount with any further questions or queries.
For example: In my Assistants Trello board I may want her to take care of a non re-occurring task tomorrow so I add the task to her list for the next day on her Trello board and copy and paste the link to the process stored in our process hub - Google Drive.
42. Time Management 101 = Outsource
With more and more freelancers operating around the world and choosing to work remotely, outsourcing has never been easier, more reliable and cost effective than right now.
If you are doing something that someone else can do for $10 per hour, it’s a poor use of your time. Utilise the processes you create and in particular outsource re-occurring tasks.
Using platforms like Upwork which has over 12 million registered freelancers gives you a great opportunity to build teams of specialist freelancers that if hired correctly are smarter than you, can complete tasks more efficiently than you and more cost effectively giving you time to work on more important tasks.
The Youtube video How to hire freelancers on Upwork is a great starting point if you haven’t used Upwork before.
"If you hire people that are smarter than you, you don't have to nitpick and micromanage. The beautiful part about delegating and managing is that if you hire smart enough people, there's not really much to manage." - Neil Patel
43. Build Momentum
The greats haven’t always been great. They started from nothing and grew by building momentum.
Ever get that feeling that you’re on a roll and everything is working out right?
Well that’s momentum. Get on a roll by getting into a rhythm and focus on staying in rhythm to build momentum. Your daily rituals will help you take advantage of this especially.
For example you most likely get your morning coffee from the same café?
Well that is because you know what to expect, you know what the process is going to be, who you're going to be talking to (they probably even know what you will order) and how long you will have to wait for it to be made. This is all part of your rhythm.
These simple daily routines and rituals build momentum and help you in finding that momentum again day after day so that you can carry it on throughout the other tasks you complete.
Obviously there are a lot of factors out of your control but going back to these small routines and rituals will help you find your rhythm again and gain the momentum you need to keep going in the right direction.
“Create an environment that helps you be your best.” - Tony Robbins
44. Work Hard
Practice your craft.
If you're not willing to put the time in then that dream really isn’t a dream and you're wasting time doing something that you're only putting 70 or 80 percent into. Working hard is the best time management strategy of all.
“It’s easy to dream about it … Much harder to execute it ….Work!” – Gary Vaynerchuk
45. But Don’t Work Yourself Into the Ground
Work smarter. Pushing yourself to the point where your brain or body can't even function will do you no favours.
Find the right balance so you can stay refreshed and energised everyday. Then you may just find that you start producing some of your best work.
Sometimes working more hours can be counter-productive. If I’m tired and slow I can't function, even the simplest tasks take a mammoth effort. I am also very active so I have to be careful that I rein it in sometimes so that I am recharging the body rather than exerting it to the point where it takes a couple of days to recover.
“By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too.” – Tim Ferriss
46. Don’t get frustrated
Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards.
These are the time management strategies that have helped me get the most out of my week, think bigger, manage time and get me on my journey to being a time efficient entrepreneur.
Maybe you do something that works better?
If you have any recommendations on what works well for you that might help me optimise my time further I would love to hear them in the comments below!