Ever feel like you just don't have enough time to get everything done for your business? Ever feel like you're just stretched too thin? But then realize that you had the time, but just spent it watching Netflix or scrolling through Facebook.
First off, that's okay. We all need time to relax and recharge. Your mind needs that. But if you are finding that you just aren't getting enough items checked off that list, there might be some habit changes that can help you get more out of your time.
The first thing that you have to understand is that it's not just about time management. It's more about energy management. Our brains are physical organs just like everything else in our body. And just like every other organ, our brains can get fatigued. Every thought we have and every decision we make takes a little bit of our mental energy. So when we think about time management, we have to look at it through the lens of energy management. Here are a few suggestions on how you can get more out of your time by managing your energy.
Schedule tasks based on level of mental energy needed. When starting or running a business, there are many tasks that you need to keep on top of, and those tasks can vary significantly in how much thinking is required. When I first started Nordic Jo's Coffee, I was working a full time job as an accountant. I had a lot to do in the evenings and the weekends, and my day job was absorbing a fair amount of my mental energy. There were a lot of days where the fatigue was a real challenge. So, I decided to organize my tasks based on an idea of avoiding overstressing my mind on any particular day. It wouldn't make much sense for me to spend all day working with numbers at my day job and then go home and do things like develop marketing materials, or crunch more numbers. It would simply be too much mental energy expended, and by the time I was working on those items, I would be making mistakes or at the very least, just working slow. So instead, I scheduled those types of activities for the weekend when I wasn't already expending mental energy and used my weekday free time for tasks that required less thought like making deliveries.
Avoid task switching. Are you a great multi-tasker? If you think you are, I might have bad news for you. Multi-tasking doesn't help you get things done any faster. In fact, it is most likely slowing you down. When you try multi-tasking, you are actually just shifting your focus back and forth between different topics. This switching just causes inefficiency by causing you to have to refocus again and again. Instead of multi-tasking, make it a goal to block your time for a specific task. If you are developing marketing content, set time aside for that and do nothing but that. The same goes for your bookkeeping, your customer follow-up, and even checking email. The more focused you stay, the less time and energy you will spend refocusing, and the efficient you will become. And the more efficient you can be, the more profitable you will be. Time blocking like this also gives you the benefit of really understanding what you are spending your time on. If you spend three hours a day, two days a week on developing marketing content, you know exactly how much time you are spending on that. If you are splitting it up, ten minutes here, fifteen there, and then jumbling it in with some other tasks, it gets pretty difficult to accurately know how much time that task is actually taking.
Automate and organize the little things. As I said before, every thought you have takes a little energy. That goes even for the little things. You don't have to be working through calculus to be exhausting your mental energy. Even the small decisions like deciding what to have for dinner, where to go for lunch, or what to wear burn up a little bit of your daily allotment of mental energy. Preplanning is king when it comes to managing these types of tasks. Meal planning is an excellent example. Instead of trying to decide what's for dinner every day, plan that out for an entire week. Now that task is done, and you don't have to spend anymore thought on it. Dinner is on auto-pilot. When it comes to picking out your clothes, do it for the night before so it's one less thing to think about in the morning. The more structure you can bring to your simple daily tasks, the less energy they will drain.