The most successful entrepreneurs know and respect the value of time.
Time is the one resource we cannot duplicate or create more of so therefore it is our most precious resource. One of the most important things you can do is learn how to maximize your time to get done the most important tasks that lead to you accomplishing your major goals.
Many experts who talk about time management will say things like: “We all get the same 24 hours in a day” or “We all get 1,440 minutes per week.”
The problem with this theory is that it assumes that our energy and motivation levels are always the same. It assumes your ability to concentrate is the same whether it’s 6:42am, 1:03 pm, or 10:57pm (assuming you’re awake at these times!) This simply is not true.
The issue of TIME management then begins with our energy management. So then, in my opinion, we have to come at this topic with a 2 pronged-approach, managing our energy and our time.
Let’s dive in.
First, let’s address energy management. In order to make sure all the minutes you do have available to work are indeed productive we have to start with assessing how well we are taking care of ourselves. Below are four ways you can prepare your body and mind to be at their sharpest best so you can be productive in your business and in your life.
1. Drinking More Water – Our bodies are made up of 70% water. Many of us start our day with coffee and then have several refills throughout the day. 75% of Americans are slightly dehydrated every day! This affects our mood and our ability to concentrate and makes us sleepy. The recommended 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water (which is equivalent to half a gallon) should be your baseline. Feel free to increase this to a gallon, especially if you exercise or it’s hot and humid outside. Staying hydrated is the simplest thing you can do to keep your energy up and sustain your ability to think clearly throughout the day. Use a water bottle that measures how many ounces or milliliters you’re drinking so you can track your progress.
2. Exercise – Daily exercise is a must. Our bodies are meant to move and not designed to sit all day. If you’re having a busy day make sure you get up every 60 minutes to stretch, walk around, and get your blood flowing again. Movement allows our blood to flow and is proven to create prolonged mental alertness. In addition to these mini-breaks, it’s important to incorporate a regular exercise schedule consisting of muscle strengthening exercises and cardio. Even if you feel like you’re too busy to workout, condense your workout and increase the intensity over a shorter period of time. The energy you’ll get back from this short intense workout will last throughout the day. It’s worth it!
3. Nutrition – Avoid excessive caffeine. Avoid heavy foods that are high in fat and/or high in sugar. These are the types of foods that will weigh you down and make you feel sluggish. Save your treats for weekends or after work hours so they don’t slow you down.
4. Sleep – Make sure you’re getting enough rest and sticking with a consistent bed time every night. If your brain is racing, do a brain dump. Keep a notebook by your bedside and write down everything that is on your mind even if it’s a mix of work stuff and personal stuff. Get it out of your head and down on paper so you don’t have to worry about it and can fall asleep. Use blue light blocker on your phone and computer if you do have to work at night. F.lux is a good (free) option. Make your bedroom conducive to sleeping, keeping it cool, dark, and calming. A dark room is important to keep your melatonin levels up so you can get the 7-8 hours of quality sleep you need each night.
If you incorporate all of these habits, you’ll having a winning formula for maximizing productivity, and feeling amazing!
Now that we’ve addressed the energy side of things, let’s discuss the actual time management piece.
There are TONS of different strategies out there. It’s important that you try different ones and find (or create) one that works for you. No matter which strategies you implement, one thing is non-negotiable:
You have to start with your MINDSET.
You have to be absolutely relentless with your time! My goal every single week is to get better and better about how I am spending my time. This isn’t just a business goal but a LIFE goal. The more you can eliminate the unnecessary, the more you can get focused so the time you do have to work is super productive the more you will have time left over for the things that matter most to you. If you have big goals you want to achieve, you cannot afford to waste any time. Make improving how you spend your time an on-going goal because nothing will get you results quicker than managing your time and energy well.
When it comes to figuring out how you should be spending your time, your starting point is to define your goals. For example, let’s say your immediate goal is to develop a new online program and enroll 10 new clients. So you have to create the program and also sign up 10 new clients. Your time needs to be spent on: program creation, marketing, selling, and administrative stuff. There is always going to be admin stuff!
Let’s say you want to give yourself 2 months to make it happen. And let’s say you have 40 hours a week to work. You’ll want to divide your time into those 4 buckets – program creation time, marketing time, selling time, and admin work. Do they all deserve equal time? No.
Let’s prioritize. If we spend all our time creating the program behind the scenes and then go to market it , it will take a long time for people to warm up, if they do at all. You have to always start with marketing, right from the get go. Even if you don’t know the name of your program or the specifics, you are always marketing YOU. You’re always posting on social media and giving away freebies to build your email list. You’re always bringing attention to your business and giving value so you can attract an audience and eventually, gain clients. Marketing is always part of your weekly ongoing schedule, but now that you have a program to sell, this gets ramped up even more.
In terms of prioritizing, the order looks like this:
1. Marketing – Marketing includes all the videos, posts, and content you create and share to get the word out about you and your business. It includes anything you do to invite your prospects to a free consult.
2. Selling – Selling is what happens on the free consult, and the follow up to that consult. So to get to your goal of 10 clients, you need to figure out how many consults per week you need to have. Work the numbers. If, out of every 10 calls you have 5 sign up, you have a 50% success rate. To get to 10 clients you will need to have 20 calls. Let’s say you wanted to have these calls in month 2 when you’re almost done creating your program. This means that over 4 weeks you need to have 20 calls, so you want to have 5 consults per week on your calendar. Now to get 5 calls per week you need to market a certain number of hours per week.
Do you see how we back into all these numbers? Yes, there is some guess work involved but it is much better to start setting numbers like this now and as you see the results you’re getting you’ll know with confidence how many calls you need to get X number of clients and how many hours you need and what all the tasks are that need to get done. So you are not just randomly posting or emailing your list or you’re not just sitting behind the computer creating something no one even knows about. You’re being extremely intentional with your time and every single task feeds into that bigger goal. No time wasted at all. Feels good, right?
So again in terms of priority it goes like this: if you have 40 hours
1. Marketing…..20 hours
2. Selling/Consults…10 per week/30 minutes: 5 hours
3. Program creation….8 hours
4. Admin 2 hours (update website, revise your email signature, update your calendar). Outsource or eliminate what you can. Only do the admin stuff that is an absolute must!
I’m a very numbers-focused person. If you can set action-based goals under each of these major categories each week you will make steady progress and see results from your efforts! Ask yourself: What are the actions I need to take to achieve this goal and break it down into weekly and daily steps.
We talked about energy management, time management, and prioritization. Another important element to managing our time well is to set our workday up for optimal FOCUS.
It is much easier for us to focus when we can concentrate on one activity at a time and not have to switch back and forth between tasks. Every time we have to switch we lose momentum and it costs us some time to switch gears and get back in a state of flow.
Instead of scheduling client calls every day and having one a day, reserve one or two days a week for meeting with clients. I recommend only doing one or two types of activities per day. For example, seeing clients and admin work, and on alternate days content creation for half the day and marketing for half.
Balance your time and energy management. If you workout in the morning and you know the 4 hours after your workout you are in a good mental zone, that is when you want to do your deep concentration work. Writing, program creation or writing long, thoughtful posts all should be scheduled during this time when your brain is at it’s peak performance.
Here are 8 more ways to maximize your time and energy and get things done!
1. First, cut out the obvious places where you might be wasting time (tv, phone calls, browsing your news feed, binge watching Youtube, etc.). If this is your down time set a limit and make sure you schedule this time at night or the end of your workday, so you have something to look forward to.
2. Eliminate distractions and interruptions: It takes up to 15 minutes to get refocused after you’ve been distracted. Use the do not disturb feature on your phone. Install the newsfeed eradicator on Facebook. Make Google your home page (it’s blank and less distracting). Turn off chat/messenger, notifications, and hide your tabs on your laptop except for the one you are working on. Find a quiet, clutter free place to work. Limit yourself to checking email twice a day, once in the morning and once at the end of your workday. If you think of a great new idea or remember something that is off topic and not related to the task at hand, table it. Write it in a special notebook labeled good ideas for later use or type it in your Evernote or OneNote.
3. Figure out what you can batch. I batch my errands when I go out. I make a bunch of meals on Sundays for the week, batch my food shopping into one day. I do the same with my social media content. Each week I create my weekly posts in Canva for Instagram and Facebook, snap some photos for my stories, write my blog and write my live video bullet points. Anything I can do before hand I create so I can spend the rest of my week messaging people, creating my program, working with clients, other looking at the big picture of my business.
4. Figure out what you can automate. Automate social media posts, preschedule emails to your list, set up a series of emails after your opt in (autoresponder series) so you don’t have to worry about it later. There are lots of free tools you can use in your business to streamline and automate things which will save you time and frustration. Planoly for Instagram, Canva for creating posts, pdfs, headers, and blog post images; Hootsuite and Buffer for scheduling social media posts.
Here are a few other processes I have semi-automated in my business that you can steal for yourself!
–When you find that there are common questions being asked by your audience you can create a blog post or video training on this topic. Then, when you receive this question again in the future, you can direct your person to this resource. This allows you to give a consistent answer plus you don’t have to spend a ton of time re-writing the same answer you just gave someone else who asked the same question the day before.
–Create a set of pre-written introduction messages for the social media platforms you’re on. Have some prewritten messages that you can copy and paste from a Word document or Evernote. For example, one thanking a new follower, an introduction message, or thanking them for sharing your content. Have a set of these messages in the Notes app on your phone as well so you can use it when you find little bits of time such as waiting in long lines, waiting rooms, waiting for the bus or train, etc.
5. Set boundaries and learn to say no. It’s tempting to say yes to going to networking events, to attending a conference, or taking a call with someone who might have an interesting proposal that might benefit you. Again you have to be relentless with your time, especially if this is your side hustle, your have a family, other commitments. If you keep filling up your schedule with these things that might benefit you or sound like a good idea then you will be disappointed. You need to ask yourself…is going to this event, talking to this person, etc. going to have a direct impact on the goal I am trying to achieve? If the answer isn’t at least a 90% possibility of a yes, then it’s a no. These are tough decisions. You may have to turn down events that sound fun or exciting but if you don’t get really strict on yourself with how you are spending your time you aren’t going to achieve the big goals you have for yourself in your business.
6. Implement an Accountability System. Some popular tools are: Trello, Asana, and Google Sheets. Make your to do lists based on the goals as we described. Start with your big goal and keep breaking it down until you have small daily goals. Create a checklist using one of these systems (or a plain notebook if you want)! This is the right way to do a TO DO list!
7. Figure out your 80/20. Where are you getting the most bang for your buck? It makes no sense to stay busy with tasks that produce nothing in return. Be sure you are assessing the ROI from your efforts and double down on what’s working, cut out what’s not.
8. Ban the word busy! Everyone is busy. When I intentionally stopped using that word every time someone asked how’s it going, I found that I was much less stressed and scattered. Busy doesn’t equal productive. In fact, we often get busy doing the non-important things that suck all our energy up and distract us. Get clear on what exactly you need to do and then do those things. Prioritize your energy and time around getting those things done.