Written by: Ryan Drawdy
You’re an entrepreneur or a marketer, and you’re busy. So busy that you don’t have time to read a book on time-management — so don’t.
Rob and Mike from Startups for the Rest of Us have packed a book’s worth of time-saving tips into one podcast episode, and we thought we’d boil them down even further.
Here are nine ways to attack your time, taken from Rob and Mike’s “9 Tactics for Aggressive Time Management” episode.
1) Respond to Your Emails in the Morning
Lots of people will tell you not to email in the morning. Rob and Mike disagree.
While some say emailing in the morning will bog you down and steal your most productive hours, there’s a way to do it that will optimize your productivity.
First, answer quick things quickly. Respond to emails that don’t require much thought. Then organize the rest of your emails into a to-do list for later.
Maybe the best reason to email in the morning is to prioritize your day. If a task requires another party’s input, get them involved immediately. If you have an urgent email from the night before, put it at the top of your list for the day.
During the first hours of the day, you’re thinking at your highest capacity. So make sure you’re tackling your highest priority early on and not discovering an urgent task after lunch.
2) Say Goodbye to Being Notified
Facebook, Twitter, and email notifications will steal your time. You want to attack your day with your own strategy and not be thrown off course. So turn off all your notifications.
No one needs to be notified immediately every time their product is mentioned on social media. If
something requires your attention immediately, your contacts should know to call or text you. This will allow you to stay on task with your priorities.
It’s really hard to do, but do it anyway. You’ll be surprised how much more energy you can direct towards what’s really important.
3) Put Off Mainstream News
Mainstream news is a trap.
Like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, news applications are designed to pull you in with a couple of articles that matter to you. Fifteen minutes later, you find yourself consuming information completely unrelated to you that has no material impact on your life.
However, your brain needs time to relax, unwind, and, put immediate struggles aside for a moment. For this, use podcasts, audiobooks, or even pure fiction. These lower your stress levels, educate you, and get your creative juices flowing.
4) Banish Your Phone
Your phone is intentionally designed to capture your focus. Make sure it only does so when you say it can.
At work, it may be necessary to have your phone available for clients. But when you’re working, you should actually be working. (And for that matter, when you’re with your family, you should be enjoying your family.)
The psychology of how we interact with phones is strange, but predictable. If your phone is within arm’s reach, chances are you’ll be tempted to check it regularly. If you can’t reach it, chances are you won’t even try.
So if you can, put your phone in a different room. At the very least, keep it resting beyond an arm’s length.
5) Guard Your Email Address
It’s a general habit to say, “Email me if you have questions.” In reality, people will email you about the important stuff whether you tell them to or not. Encouraging additional communication is inviting just that—additional, quite possibly unnecessary, communication.
Instead of throwing in a casual email invitation, try this: “I wish you the best of luck with your project.” It’s simple, sincere, and to the point.
If someone asks, “Hey, can I email you?” it’s OK to say yes. Just do so with discretion.
6) Be a “No” Man (or Woman)
Your default answer should be no unless there’s a compelling reason to say yes.
You’ll be asked to donate your time, your brain, and your resources. If you say yes to everything, you’ll over-commit yourself. Further, you’re always more likely to let your own work fail before someone else’s, so you’ll attempt to meet other people’s needs at the expense of your own business.
In the beginning of your career, it’s OK to say yes more, since you have more time and are looking to make your mark. But be careful not to build up a habit of over-commitment, since the more you say yes, the more people will ask.
7) Schedule Your Tweets, Religiously
Twitter captivates and engages your audience. According to the Pew Research Center, almost three-fourths of online adults use social networking websites.
One hundred million people are tweeting daily. So if you use Twitter, do it every day and knock it out of the park, or don’t use it at all.
How do you maintain an active presence on Twitter without it consuming your life? Schedule your tweets.
Use a tool like Buffer and have your tweets released throughout the day while you’re doing other things.
8) Be Forgetful
That’s right. You’re remembering way too much.
The more scattered material your brain is remembering at once, the less energy it can focus on needed tasks. When a thought presents itself—someone mentions a book you should read or your spouse tells you to pick up a stick of butter at the grocery store—store it away.
Applications like Trello allow you create organized groups of items, so you can arrange tasks and ideas and reference them when needed. Trello even allows you to share lists in the cloud with a colleague or spouse…so everyone can be on the same page.
This frees up your brain and does the remembering for you.
9) Don’t Go to Meetings (if You Can Help It)
High-volume productivity requires stretches of uninterrupted . . . productivity.
Attack your schedule with that in mind. Move meetings and disengage during large chunks of time whenever possible.
The idea is to eliminate those staccato-type interruptions throughout the day and block off hours at a time. Meetings are killers of that goal.
Time is everything. More time means more results, more productivity, and more family. Implement these ideas, and watch the efficiency of your work multiply.
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