Time Management Tips With Immediate Results

There is a type of therapy called “person-centered therapy” where therapists allow their client to lead the conversation where the client feels that it needs to go. This therapeutic practice helps the client to stop, cut the noise, and look within to solve their problems. Many times, it just takes some honest self-evaluation on the part of the client in order for them to find solutions to their problems. While this may sound like psychobabble to some, this is a principle that translates into pretty much every area of life.

Consider your professional business, for example. There is a really good chance that you intuitively know what steps you need to take to grow your business to the next level. So why is it so hard to actually do the things you need to do to get there? As is the case with most tasks, the trouble comes at the point of implementation. This is because we have so many things pulling at us from different directions that we end up wasting our time on easier, less profitable things, rather than the complex, more effective ones.

The 80/20 rule, was conceptualized by Vilfredo Pareto in 1895. He surmised that most economic activity fell into the confines of this rule – for example, 80% of wealth is controlled by 20% of the population in a country, or 80% of clients make up 20% of profits. In relation to your business, this rule says that 20% of your tasks make up 80% of your results. This means that 80% of your tasks account for 20% of your profit! This will help you put into perspective which tasks are time wasters, versus which are truly valuable.

Here are some tips to help you “cut the noise” so that you can get back to basics in your business to maximize productivity and minimize waste:

Take inventory of your daily tasks

Write down a list of all the tasks that make up your work day. Assuming you are using the 80/20 rule, the 80% being the “trivial many” and the 20% being the “vital few”, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this task vital or trivial in terms of profitability?
  • How much time am I dedicating to this task?
  • If this is a trivial task, can I delegate it?
  • Which of my tasks are not in alignment with my business goals or vision?

Once you’ve done this, create a short To Do List. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said “Each night, I put together my list for the following day. If I don’t get something on my list accomplished, it goes on the next day’s list. I put the hardest or most unappealing task at the top of the list. This way, I tackle the most difficult item first, and once it’s out of the way, I feel my day is off to a good start.” Mary Kay taught her consultants to write down the 6 most important tasks that needed to be done for the next day, organizing the short list by priority.

When we give ourselves too many tasks to complete, we end up paralyzing ourselves and the result is that less gets done. Be sure to do the hardest task that you don’t want to do first, because this is most likely the task that will produce results. Focus on how you will feel once the difficult task is complete, and of course, delegate the less profitable tasks as much as you can.

Devote important tasks to large time blocks

When you have multiple tasks calling your name, it can be tempting to jump from tasks to task because of the pressure you feel to get everything done. This has the opposite of the intended effect, and will cause you to take longer to complete each task. Your goal should be not only to complete the task, but to complete it with excellence and efficiency. Have you ever gotten so absorbed into a task that you felt like you were completely “in the zone”? That is what you need to aim for when completing high level tasks. In order to do that though, you must allot a large enough chunk of time to it so that you are able to focus deeply. Decide the amount of time that works for you, whether it be an hour or four hours, put your phone on silent, and devote all of your mental energy to completing the task at hand, as if your life depended on it.

Touch each email in your inbox only ONCE

This applies to any document that hits your desk as well. Emails are a powerful tool towards productivity, but can waste valuable time and energy if misused.

  • When you open an email, respond to it right away. DON’T WAIT. But if you must wait, file it in a separate folder titled, “To Read Later” or ‘Waiting for Response” or put it on your To Do list. Whatever you do, don’t leave it in your inbox – deal with it right away.
  • Regularly filter/unsubscribe. Inevitably, your email will become inundated over time with useless emails from marketers trying to sell you something. Cut the noise by unsubscribing immediately and deleting the email. If you save an email thinking you might buy the product later, you won’t, and you most likely don’t need it anyways. So do yourself a favor and just delete the email altogether.
  • Keep your email responses brief and concise. No one wants to read a novel when they open up an email from you, so don’t waste your valuable time by over communicating.

Wake up early

The practice of waking up early gives you a chance to better prepare yourself and get your priorities in order for the day. Use this time to remind yourself of the overarching goals for your business. If you can hone in on what you really want at the beginning of the day, it will help you in your decision making process throughout the rest of the day. Some benefits of waking up early:

  • You’ll actually have more energy throughout the day
  • You are more likely to eat breakfast and exercise
  • You will get more done
  • You will have time alone to think, which is important for emotional health

The best way to convince yourself to get up early is to have a daily morning ritual. Create a short list of things you’d like to do, and make sure they are compelling enough to get you out of bed. For example, make a cup of coffee, read a book, meditate, go for a walk, journal. Once you’ve completed your morning ritual, you’ll be surprised how clear your mind is and how much time you have left for the high level tasks!

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