Here it is: the definitive guide to managing your time and getting everything done, with time left over to spend time with family and catch up on the TV shows you’ve been meaning to see. You’ll do more and do it better, and people will marvel at how you’re seemingly able to do it all without breaking a sweat.
closeup of the hands of a young caucasian man holding a clock which is being adjusted backward or … [+]
So perhaps that isn’t exactly true. If there were some foolproof method of managing your time, surely someone would have figured it out by now and made hundreds of millions on the book and lecture circuit. The unfortunate truth for entrepreneurs and founders is that there’s probably no surefire way to organize your day and expend your time that gets everything you want to do done and leaves hours left over for rest and relaxation. All any of us can do is our best to maximize the time we have, and to try and limit the amount of it we spend at work in a way that prevents us from becoming a mere rumor to our families. While there’s no right answer, there are things we can remember that can help us to be better and do better when it comes to managing our time.
Limit your email tIme. If there is any greater time suck than email, it’s yet to be invented. (Though I’m sure Silicon Valley remains hard at work on it at present.) Writing emails, reading emails, answering emails; all seem designed to eat at your day until you look up at the clock and find that the hours have disappeared and you’ve done none of the things you set out to when you woke up. Somehow our greatest tool for communication has come at the expense of productivity. As pleasurable as it is to imagine actually doing, we can’t ditch email entirely, at least if we hope our businesses to remain a viable concern. But we can change how we email, and our relationship with email.
Having set periods of time when you read and respond to emails might seem to some to be a step towards acting like a conceited, self-regarding genius entrepreneur type, particularly if you’re of a type that has courtesy and politeness drilled into the fiber of your being. But it’s not discourteous to value your own time, and it’s not that you’re ignoring their emails entirely. Emails are meant to be a tool that works for you, not the other way around; upending that unhealthy relationship is one way to liberating your time for other tasks.
Get off the phone. As with email, the phone can be a similar drag on your time if you allow it to be. For all the ways in which phone calls have become an artifact in everyday life, they remain very much alive and vital in the world of business. We’ve undoubtedly encountered people in our dealings who are eager to “jump on a call” to talk over any point that requires anything over a couple sentences to describe in an email. They’re phone call people, in stark contrast to the way that many of us are definitely not, especially ones that seem entirely superfluous, and if we accede to every request we’re spending our days on the phone.
So we have to learn to say “no”, or at least to add “no” into the mix with “yes”, when anyone and everyone wants to set up a call to discuss whatever the matter at hand. Some things require a phone call and others don’t, and while it might be the job of the other party to spend their day making calls, it’s not yours, and you’ll do well to remember that the people you owe your time are usually the ones within your building.
Clear your meetings. Remember when I said that emails were the greatest time suck ever perpetrated upon the office worker? Meetings give email a run for its money as a thief of both time and joy. Meetings pair the insistence of email with the schedule-filling of phone calls to create its own unique entity that consumes working hours at an alarming rate. As with either emails or phone calls, there are of course good and necessary meetings, ones where important matters are hashed out. But meetings can become something thrown at a problem, used as an option of first resort and a quick and easy answer to any issue or problem. The mere act of having a meeting feels like you’re accomplishing something, even if you’re deciding nothing.
Get rid of unnecessary meetings. It’s really that simple. Does this meeting serve a purpose? Is it going to accomplish anything? Does it spark joy? If not, then it needs to go. It’s not as though you or your team can’t talk or interact outside of the formal confines of a meeting, or that others can’t meet on their own if needed. For your own sanity, and the sake of your valuable time, only set the meetings that you need, with definitive time boundaries.
These tips shouldn’t come to anyone as particularly revolutionary; odds are you’ve had similar thoughts or read advice of the like, even if you’ve not acted on it. Hopefully, it serves to reinforce those thoughts and messages and gets you to take action in the direction of decluttering your workday. By doing less, you can hopefully accomplish more. #onwards.