Time Management Strategies: How to Work Smarter, Not Harder

  •    Law graduate and journalist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs market and grow their businesses.

A smart time management strategy is key to having a successful business that's thriving, but doesn't leave you burned out at the end of every day. When you're launching your new business, it's essential that you plan your days carefully. You want to make the most out of your time in order to maximize each day. But you also don't want to find yourself working 20 hours a day until you're so tired that you no longer have any creativity or energy left.

So what type of time management techniques involve working smarter and not harder? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Remember That Your Time Is Not an Infinite Resource

Your time is a commodity, not an infinite resource. That's why you need to budget your time just like you would any other valuable commodity. It's not endless, and you can't spend 100% of your time on work, or you'll have nothing left.

Create a Schedule that Includes Time for Yourself

Creating a schedule is vital. If you keep trying to cram so much into your day that you don't include any time for yourself, you'll eventually burn out. It's easy to let "me time" get away from you if you don't have it on your calendar. When you're creating your schedule, factor in day and night time activities. And remember the little things, like commuting or family appointments. If you don't add those to your schedule, you'll run out of time.

Delegate Your Tasks

If you have the funds, hire an assistant to answer emails or phone calls that don't require your personal touch, along with any other tasks that can free you up. When you're starting a new business, it can be tough to let go. But as the business owner, you should be looking at the big picture. Delegating can help you do just that. This strategy might include delegating marketing or social media tasks so you can focus on your business's mission.

Limit Your Phone and Email Time

Limit how many times you answer your email and voicemails to just two or three times a day. Of course, there are exceptions, such as if you're on call and need to be available immediately. But most of the time, you don't need to check your email every time your phone notifies you about a new message. Checking your messages too frequently can interrupt your workflow, hurt your concentration and slow you down.

Consider the Urgency of Your To-Do List

Think about whether the items on your to-do list are urgent vs. important. Do they have a deadline that's coming up quickly? Are they crucial to your business or your life? No one has time to do everything, so categorizing your list in this way will help you know what can be delegated, saved for later or removed entirely. Don't forget to include "me items" on this list, like hobbies and other ways you enjoy passing the time.

Be Intentional at Night and in the Morning

If you're intentional at night and first thing in the morning, it will help the rest of your day go more smoothly. At night, write down all your goals and concerns before you go to sleep. This tactic will help you sleep without worrying about things that you can't take care of right away. If it's written down, you don't need to obsess over it.

Then in the morning, spend the first 30 minutes of your day with an intentional, calming activity, such as meditation, sitting outside or drinking coffee while listening to a podcast. After this, spend a few minutes focusing on which of your goals for the day are most important or most urgent. This will help you start your day without getting pulled around based on other people's whims. If you start out your day just answering emails, you might forget what your goals were supposed to be. As your day progresses, check yourself a few times and make sure you're sticking to your most important goals.

There are a lot of time management strategies that will help you organize your work day more effectively. The most important part is to carve out the time for your non-negotiables, and stick to your plan. Don't beat yourself up if you get off track. It's never too late to course correct.