How to use time management skills to be more productive

If you are running a business, making the most of your time is critical for getting ahead and growing your business beyond being a 9-5 job. But how do we know if our time management skills are the best they can be? Could we increase our productivity?

ActionCOACH recommends the following four techniques to increase your productivity in business. Try them for a week and you’ll very quickly learn how much more productive you can be!

Technique 1. Plan your time.
At the end of each week, plan what you will do in the coming week. It’s really easy and won’t take you long. This technique will work best if you already have a clear 90-day plan in place for your business. If you don’t have a 90-day business plan, read our eBook Planning for a Successful New Business Year.  This weekly plan should be more than just meetings – be sure to dedicate specific time slots to completing the most important activities for your business.

Technique 2. Stick to the plan
When you’ve planned to do something at a particular time, it’s important to minimise distractions and get it done. After all, it’s part of your grand plan for business success, and is a key time management skill. If you skip a part of the plan you are in fact sabotaging a part of your grand plan. Distractions cause a 50% reduction in your productivity because it takes so long for your mind to re-focus on each of the different tasks. So be sure to focus on the task you planned, instead of trying to multi-task.

Technique 3. Have an accountability coach
Ever told a child that they will get a treat if they work toward their goal? That child will more than likely work hard and report back when they have (or almost have) achieved that goal. If you are accountable to someone you are more likely to stick to the plan, and therefore be significantly more productive. Your accountability ‘coach’ can be anyone (not necessarily a professional) who cares about you and is willing to help you.

Technique 4. Avoid Productivity Killers.
Believe it or not, fatigue, stress, illness, poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle have a direct impact on your time management and productivity. How? Being fit and healthy improves your productivity and performance at work, which in turn makes you happier at home and a better spouse/parent/friend, which in turn motivates you to further build your health and fitness and so on – a very powerful virtuous circle. But beware….it goes the other way too so be sure to stay on top of all three elements!

Once you’ve nailed these techniques, it remains only to execute on the plan.  At this stage, the most common challenge is procrastination.  So here are a couple of ways to stay productive and avoid procrastination:

The first is called ‘Eat the Frog’. Brian Tracy coined this phrase in his book, and he means that if you were told to eat a live frog by tomorrow or die, you would either get it over and done with, or stress about it until tomorrow and then do it anyway. The same can be applied to our business tasks! To avoid procrastination, know what your “frog” is each day and do it first thing in the morning. You’ll be satisfied that you’ve made progress and are more likely to have a productive rest-of-the-day.

The second way to avoid procrastination is to remind yourself of your ‘why’. When you find yourself procrastinating, walk to a window and think about your goals and dreams and ‘why’ you are actively working towards them. Decide then whether you want to delay them (because that’s what procrastination is doing) or if you want them sooner.  Usually it’s the latter so get back to work on achieving them!

In business, you’ll have some great, productive and effective days, but you’ll also have some tough days. One great day won’t get you there, but one bad day won’t stop you getting there either – keep appropriate perspective. Stay on the road, hone your time management skills and you can achieve anything you want!

Contact ActionCOACH today and book in a free 90min coaching session to really improve your time management skills and have your most productive and successful business year ever! Or register here for the 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar here.