Contributors from members of the Copper team
As a business owner, you know how precious time can be. In a world where time is quite literally money, it’s important to manage how you spend your time.
But between emails, phone calls, seemingly endless meetings and surprise to-dos, it’s easy to feel like you’re putting out fires all day. You only have a set number of hours in the workday, and you need to have a personal life, too.
What’s a busy entrepreneur to do??
Well, how you spend your time is how you live your life. If you need a little more balance, it means you’ve got to brush up on your time management skills.
That might sound cliche, but 82% of people don’t have a time management system at all. If you haven’t chosen a time management strategy yet (or even tried one!), this is your sign that it’s time for a change.
Let’s dive into how good time management works and 7 time management techniques you can start using to make this your year.
What is time management?
All right, so here’s the deal: you only have 24 hours to work, sleep, visit with friends, see your family, eat and have leisure time. Life is busier than ever before, and you need some kind of guiding compass to help you make the most of your 24 hours and avoid time wasters.
Time management is just that. With good time management, you thoughtfully structure your day by allocating time and focus to specific tasks, for a specific amount of time.
Time management is for you if:
- It seems like you can’t get through your to-do list.
- You’re missing deadlines.
- You feel like your business is getting away from you.
- You lean towards procrastination.
Since 60% of people have a hard time with work-life balance (which is even harder with remote work), you need a time management strategy. Good time management skills reduce stress, boost productivity, and help you create a thriving business. What’s not to love?
The 7 best time management tips for 2022
There are dozens of time management techniques for you to try. Since everyone’s brain is different, you’ll likely need to try a few different time management strategies to find the right one. Check out these 7 examples of good time management strategies to preserve your sanity and get you to your goals faster.
1. Time blocking
Did you know that multitasking reduces productivity by 40%?
Instead of doing all the things, use time management techniques like task batching and time blocking to unitask.
With task batching or time blocks, you batch together similar tasks and do them all at once. That means checking your email, conducting meetings, or doing deep work all within a set block of time. This minimizes context switching and enables deep work, so you focus more deeply on one type of task before switching gears.
Once you’ve batched smaller tasks together, do them during specific time blocks every day. For example, maybe you check email only at 9 am and 4 pm every day. Plug these time blocks into your Google Calendar so you stay accountable.
2. Use a CRM
If you run a service-based business, you’re juggling a lot of information. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Copper helps you reduce overwhelm, nix time wasters, and save time. Since people waste nearly 20% of their time at work looking for information, using a CRM is a smart time management strategy.
Use Copper’s tasks and reminders feature to reduce redundant admin tasks and help you keep tabs on your task list. It also integrates with Google Calendar to add context to every meeting, removing the need to jump between different platforms.
3. The 4 D’s of time management
Are you staring down the barrel of a long, seemingly impossible to-do list? Use the four D’s of time management to take action on each task:
- Delete it: Ask yourself if the task really needs to get done. For example, do you really need to organize your Google Drive? Does it matter? If it isn’t deserving of your attention, take it off of your task list.
- Delegate: Business owners waste 19% of their time on admin tasks that they could outsource. Translation: you’re wasting an entire day each week on things you don’t need to do. If an individual task is important but you don’t have time to do it, try delegating. It might mean hiring a contractor and training them to do that task. Yes, that’s time you’ll need to invest up front, but it will really save your bacon later, especially when it comes to recurring tasks.
- Delay: This isn’t about procrastination; delaying a task means scheduling time to do an important task at a later date. If a task is important but not high-priority, plug it into a task tracker like Asana to tackle it when you have time.
- Do it now: If it’s a task you can’t delete, delegate, or delay, do it right now. Procrastination just makes your to-do list get even longer. If you’re dreading doing something, dig in and do it now. We promise you’ll feel better!
4. Track your time
Only 20% of people audit how they spend their time. If you want to stop the poor time management and manage your time better, you need to understand how you’ve been spending it.
Use a time-tracking tool to create categories for common tasks in your job, or for specific projects. Make sure you track your time as accurately as possible.
Every Friday afternoon, sit down and look at your time-tracking data. Can you find ways to save time? If you see that you spend too much time on email, that might mean it’s time to hire a virtual assistant.
Time tracking might sting a little at first, but it will help you find inefficient areas in your business processes that need fine-tuning.
5. 80/20 rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle (no, not the Pomodoro technique!), the 80/20 rule says that you should spend your time on the things that get you the most results.
So, instead of focusing on low-value tasks like email, you would follow the 80/20 rule to focus more on:
- Lead generation
- Relationship nurturing
- Hiring or training
Use your time tracking data to see which efforts get you the most results. If you’re spending your time on tasks that don’t have a lot of payoff, that’s your cue to redesign your workflow.
6. Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro method or technique uses a cyclical timer where you do short bursts of work and break in between each burst. For example, it’s common to do 30 minutes of work with a short break (5 minutes or so) in between each work sesh.
All of these breaks might sound like a waste of time, but 87% of professionals say breaks actually increase their productivity. If you do deep work, or your brain needs breaks to function, Pomodoro is a great time management skill to develop. We like it because it gives you time to deal with distractions like emails, checking your phone, or grabbing a quick snack.
Use a free tool like TomatoTimer to try the Pomodoro method for yourself — it lets you customize the length of your sprints, as well as notification sounds.
7. Minimize (and maximize) meetings
If you’ve ever been stuck in a directionless, meandering meeting from hell, you know how much of a time-waster meetings can be. In fact, 67% of workers say that meetings hurt their productivity.
This time management technique is all about minimizing how long you’re in meetings while maximizing their value. That means:
- Hosting shorter meetings. Seriously, keep them to 15 - 30 minutes, max.
- Only inviting relevant people to the meeting.
- Creating an agenda for the meeting.
- Cutting people off if they go on a tangent.
- Mandating meeting-free days so you have time for focused work.
Try these effective time management techniques
Your business can always earn more money, but you can never create more time. We need to spend our time wisely because it’s such a limited resource. Time management doesn’t sound fun, but it’s the best way to achieve work-life balance, do better work, and build a business you truly love.
But sometimes you need a little help getting across the finish line, and that’s where Copper comes in. Copper is the Google-recommended CRM designed to manage your small business from within Gmail. Try Copper free for 14 days.