Any successful business professional knows that time management is key to a thriving and lucrative company or business venture. But for those newbies in the business realm, learning how to manage your time and stay productive may be an elusive art. Fast Company offers up a quick Time Management 101 lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Number One: Stay away from the email trap. Jonathan Greechan, a partner at an accelerator program tells Fast Company that email is his worst enemy.
“Keeping email open all day is the quickest way to kill your productivity,” he said.
To stay on track, Greechen only checks his email three times a day.
“First thing in the morning I glance over most emails and address only the critical ones. Midday I check progress on the critical emails I addressed in the morning. And before I go to sleep my main goal is to clear volume and smaller or menial tasks. On especially busy days I only check twice a day, cutting out the midday scrub.”
Delayed email responses can also be more effective. It gives people unnecessarily dependent on your response a chance to find independence and solve problems on their own while you deal with more pressing matters.
Number Two: Identify your top priorities for the week. If you focus on what’s really important, than you often work more quickly and efficiently.
Number Three: Know your productivity limits. If you know your limits as well as the limits of those who work with you, you’ll find your work levels and results will stay constant.
“I had an employee that would produce the maximum amount on 55 hours a week. The rest of us had to work 80 hours to get done what he did in 55; but if he worked more than 55, his total productivity started to drop,” Troy Henifkoff, chief executive officer of Chicago’s Excelerate Labs said to Fast Company.
Henikoff also cautions that “urgent” must not be confused with “important.”
“It is easy to get sucked into all those urgent issues, but you really should be prioritizing by what is most important,” he said.
Number Four: Take breaks. Breaks help you avoid burnout. Don’t overlook the value of resting to help redevelop your creative energy.
Number Five: Don’t be afraid to skip meetings. Once the balls gets going in your company, countless people will want to meet with you to form partnerships, mentorships and opportunities. Taking every meeting that pops up can end up being more distracting than productive. Not only should you make sure each meeting is important, try to keep them no longer than 30 minutes. Spending all day on a meaningless meeting is a day of wasted time.
Lastly, the number six tip is to learn when to say no. When you first get your business started excitement and inexperience may lead you to want to say yes to every deal and every opportunity. But learning to say no to offers you feel aren’t right for your business is a valuable skill that will influence the health and life of your career.