Guest Post: Making The Most of Your Time

This guest post is contributed by Maria Rainier, a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to fall behind. Beneath the surface of the water, our duckling feet are kicking as fast as we can, sometimes even to adverse effects. A study conducted at Missouri Western State University concluded that poor time management skills can cause stress that leads to greater and graver errors, not to mention poor memory so you can’t keep track of your to-dos. When stressed, your ability to focus drastically decreases and the bigger picture goes out the window. You make poor decisions on a whim and you live with the consequences later, with more on your plate than ever before.

Productivity is key in entrepreneurship, but such requires time management—a skill which takes time, experience, and discipline that some of us have trouble developing simply because we’re just starting out. Look for key signs, like eating, drinking, and talking too fast; feeling like you’ve always got to do something and be somewhere; always watching the clock; irritability; cutting people off while they’re talking; and the like. If you find yourself in need of some guidance, keep reading.

  • Begin with the end in mind. From day to day, week to week, month to month, and ultimately as an entrepreneur, what are your goals? Putting a puzzle together without the resultant picture is harder than with it. This will allow you to plan each day, week, etc. accordingly; write realistic tasks you can actually accomplish in your calendar to maintain your focus and minimize conflicts.
  • This will also allow you to prioritize. Think of each day or week as a box into which you must fit your tasks, which are characterized by rocks of varying sizes according to their importance. The business meeting that could win you more coverage is a big rock; checking up on your Facebook is a pebble. Trying to fit in all the pebbles first and then the big rocks is an exercise in futility. Know what’s important and think ahead of the consequences should you ignore that. Prioritize accordingly.
  • It’s okay to say no. Keep your priorities in order and if you’re swamped as it is, let others do the same.
  • To this end, delegate less important tasks to those with less on their plates.
  • Stop looking at the clock. It will only make you more nervous and waste your time.
  • Limit other distractions, like phones, social media, and the like. Close the door and let others know you’re busy. If you work from home, turn off whichever phone, your landline or cellular, isn’t used for business. Use two separate Internet browsers—one for leisure, the other for work.
  • Be realistic. Are things as dire as they seem? Before you answer the question in what will likely be a state of panic and urgency, think whether or not your plight will matter next year. If it does, take a breath and refocus. This time, instead of plowing through your to-do list like a stampede of panicked wildebeests, focus on content and the current task. Jump one chasm at a time rather than two or three and falling short. This only causes more stress.
  • Eat, talk, and walk slower. Your behavior can reinforce existing feelings of panic. Actively calming your breath and slowing your activity can change your mood.