I’ve pulled together my top 7 time management tips for online business owners who are struggling with productivity.
Have you ever gotten to the end of the week and felt like you hadn’t checked enough things off your to do list? Like you wasted too much time and are falling behind on your goals and dreams? It’s happened to me more times than I care to remember, which is exactly why I decided to learn more about time and task management.
Time Management Tips for Busy CEOs
These are the time management tips that I’ve tested, implemented, and had the most success with for my own life and business. When you work from home and you’re setting your own schedule, you have to learn how to manage your time and complete tasks by the deadlines if you want to achieve your goals.
Reduce + Eliminate Distractions
You probably already know what your common distractions are. For most of us, it’s things like kids, coworkers, social media, phones, TV, or household chores.
Make a mental list of your 3 biggest distractions and then figure out a way to reduce or eliminate them.
Block your social media apps during work hours. Get your chores done first thing in the morning so they don’t interrupt your day. Lock your children out of the house when you’re working. Ok, kidding. Mostly. But you get the point. Be creative if needed.
Here’s are some ways I’ve reduced my own distractions:
- Cell phone - I don’t carry it around the house with me or have it nearby while I work. All my messages come to my laptop, and I don’t need it for anything else while I’m working.
- Kids - I get my best work done while they are at school, and my office is completely off limits.
- TV/Music/Podcasts - I don’t focus well when there’s noise because I’m super sensitive to sounds. Ever since college, I’ve trained myself to keep the TV, and other media sources, turned off until the work is finished.
My biggest distraction has always been my phone. There are the social media apps, puzzle games, email, and doom scrolling on CNN. I can easily burn through an hour without even really noticing how much time I’ve wasted.
Luckily, smartphones now have screen time and downtime functions. I use these to set limits which act as automatic reminders to myself to focus on my priorities.
Take time to learn about the features included with your phone, laptop, watch, TV, internet router, internet browser… whatever you need to help block out the distractions.
Use a Timer
Give yourself permission to take breaks by setting a timer. Rest can be just as productive as work, sometimes even more so. Ever had a great idea while you were in the shower or laying in bed?
Try setting a timer for 45 minutes, get as much done as you can, and then take a 15 minute break to stretch, snack, or scroll.
Alternatively, you can use the Pomodoro Technique and work for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes, repeat 4 times then take a longer break that’s around 15-30 minutes long.
I use the Flow app on my MacBook, but there are lots of ways to set timers. Typically, I’ll set timers to fit the task I’m working on instead of trying to fit my tasks into the timer. When I’m feeling good and ready to work, I can do longer timers, but when I’m having a struggle day, I keep the timers shorter.
Multitasking is a giant myth.
Researchers have shown time and time again that multitasking reduces the quality of your work, ruins your ability to focus, and negatively affects your productivity.
You aren’t actually doing multiple tasks at once. You are just task-switching so quickly that it feels like you are. In reality, every time you switch from one task to the other, you’re slowing yourself down and dividing your attention.
You’ll actually get more done if you focus on a single task until it’s finished, and then switch to the next task. The fewer times you have to task-switch, the better your focus will be and the more productive you will be as you work.
Sometimes multitasking is unavoidable (thanks, kids), but try to focus on a single task as often as possible to increase your productivity.
Declutter Your Spaces
Of course decluttering made my list of time management tips. There are 2 reasons I decided to include it:
- Not being able to find what you need is a massive waste of time.
- Clutter is distracting (remember… we want to eliminate distractions).
Whether it’s digital or physical clutter, you need to spend some time tidying. Throw out the trash. Get rid of outdated junk. Give yourself some space for creativity.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t work at a messy desk (or on a messy computer). All I think about is how messy it is and how I need to spend time cleaning.
Your clients, family, friends, and even you need to know your boundaries. Some boundaries can be flexible (like when you take a lunch break) but some boundaries should never be crossed (like family time).
Set clear boundaries for your business. Here’s a list to get you started, but you’ll probably need to create some based on your personal preferences and lifestyle.
- What are your core values?
- What are your normal working hours?
- When do you absolutely not work?
- What’s the best way to communicate with you?
- When will you be available to communicate?
- When do you have meetings?
- When do you check email?
- What’s your policy for weekends, holidays, and vacations?
- How do you handle cancellations, refunds, or requests for free advice?
Clear boundaries make it easier for you to block out notifications, stay out of your inbox, and stop jumping to help everyone else instead of taking care of your priorities first.
Action, Not Motivation
Stop waiting for motivation to fall from the sky. People tend to treat motivation like it’s a unicorn, a creature you have to go out into the woods to find, but only a few people ever succeed. Everyone else just gets stuck in the mud.
Motivation isn’t going to come to you. It’s up to you to make it happen. The only path to motivation is action.
Here’s how it works… Tell yourself you have to start and spend 5 minutes doing a task. Odds are that once you start, you’ll keep going beyond the first 5 minutes. Action builds traction, which then leads to motivation.
“Put simply, motivation is waiting until you feel like doing something before doing it. Discipline on the other hand, is doing it regardless of how you’re feeling about it.” - Ali Abdaal
Get in the Flow
Ever been so wrapped up in a project that you lose track of time and get a boatload of work done? That’s what productivity folks call your “flow state.”
Your flow state is when you are performing a task at your absolute best. You feel full of energy, inspired, on track, and excited about what you’re working on.
It’s more commonly known as “being in the zone.”
When you take the time to identify your flow state and figure out how to get there without much effort, you’ll be able to complete tasks much more quickly.
Learn more about flow state from TED.com.
What use is reading about time management if you don’t actually take action?
Choose one of these tips to implement this week and see how it goes. Think of it as an experiment for your business. You may need to make some adjustments as you go, but I know with a little practice that you can and will improve your productivity, feel more confident in your abilities, and grow your business.