As a business partner, entrepreneur and woman I deal with
time management issues on a daily basis. I recently started a new company with
two partners and, as all entrepreneurs know, the first year of a new business
is crucial and often amounts to 16 hour working days.
In addition, our company Adapt To Change assists businesses
and entrepreneurs to continuously improve and grow, which includes imparting
some very important skills around managing time.
So I have fine tuned my learnings to share with you my 5 top
time management tips!
- Track your time: Start off with tracking what you currently spend your time on. The results of this exercise are generally very surprising. Once you know what you are spending your time on, it will be easier to compile a realistic plan for going forward and to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Plan: When compiling your plan, do not just allocate specific activities to specific days, but also allocate specific time slots.
- Eliminate disruptions: Many people try to work all day with their email on. Schedule specific time slots for these disruptive activities and once the time slot has passed – close the program.
- Execute: Stick to your plan! Or why bother planning?
- Make-over: Your initial plan should not be cast in stone. Re-plan every week until you have found the one that works for you and then revisit it every month to make further improvements.
- Find your
sweet spot: Try shuffling things around.
As you try new things, be aware of what time you are performing at your
best – we all have that uniquely special time of the day when we are most
productive. Make sure that you schedule your most important tasks for that
- Identify the deserving: Always try to keep in mind what really deserves your time. This is about the ability to prioritize effectively and not “sweat the small stuff”.
- Make “me”
time: Do things that switch you on and energize you! When we are busy with
things that we enjoy we are energised and can use this momentum to woosh over
the less fun stuff.
- Share the load: What happens when your prime time is between 5 and 7 pm which coincides with family responsibilities? The answer is delegate and outsource! It is important to note there is no shame in asking for help elsewhere in our lives. Unfortunately we cannot all afford a live in nanny, house keeper and personal chef so we have to get creative. Ma ybe meals can be prepared in advance or you and a neighbour can take turns to cook for both families at once?
- When you
delegate a task to someone else, make sure that you are clear in your
expectations – what is the end result you need and by when, how often should
you be updated during the process and at what point should you be informed if
the task starts to fall behind? Remember to leave space for the individual’s
Develop an allergy
- Become allergic to waste! Stop wasting time and stop spending time on non-value adding activities (and by non-value add I mean what YOU value).
- Be organised: Make sure that you have a place for everything and that you keep everything in its place so that you do not waste time searching for stuff.
- Use cheat sheets: Develop templates or a check list for ad hoc tasks, to make your life easier. This way you do not have to start from scratch every time.
- Fill up unused time: Do not just stand in the queue waiting to pay for your monthly groceries – use that time to read that book, send that email, make that phone call etc.
- Only employ technology that really works for you: If you are struggling with the latest coolest software that everybody else is talking about even though you started using it a year ago– you may need to consider stop using it.
- Consolidate repetitive activities: If you are walking to the fax machine 10 times a day… STOP! Schedule a single time slot in your day and only walk there once, sending all the faxes at that time.
*Su-Mari Koen is partner in the entrepreneurial company Adapt To Change. She is the latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's Women’s Month campaign celebrating women in business. Fin24 welcomes your participation in the campaign. Send your views to email@example.com and you could get published.
Previous women's month columns:
The sky's the limit - Tsidi Luse, quality control manager at Lafarge's Lichtenburg plant
In the driving seat - Dawn Nathan-Jones, CEO, Europcar
Get your hands dirty - Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment Group
Manage like a woman - Wahida Parker, director of Equillore
Four tips for working moms - Glynnis Jeffries, head: business development at Futuregrowth
Women a force for change - Amelia Jones, CEO of Community Chest
Don't be an ice queen - Nicole Fannin, financial consultant at deVere Group