Entrepreneurs often have an abundance of tasks, with few or no employees to rely on for help. Combined with long working hours and very little time off, it’s easy to become distracted, lost, or overwhelmed by your schedule.

The fact is, spending more time working has very little to do with the number of things you can accomplish in a day. Instead, productivity often has to do with how you approach your tasks. This is why skills such as scheduling and time management are crucial in running your own business.

If you’re looking to bring your productivity to the next level, it’s best to educate yourself on the most effective ways to utilize your time. By adopting just a couple of habits, you’ll be able to stop increasing your work hours and optimize your results instead. The following are easy and effective time management strategies for busy entrepreneurs.

1. Plan ahead

The reality of running your own business is that you’re the person who will have to do the majority of the work. Thus, it’s important that you know exactly what needs to be done, when the deadline is, and how important each task is on the grand scale of things. Planning ahead is one of the oldest and most effective methods of ensuring results. And it’s easy.

Just take a few minutes at the end of your day and write down the tasks you need to do the next day, week, or month. This way, you’ll have a list of actions to which you can add (or subtract from), allowing you to focus on doing, instead of thinking about what needs to be done.

2. Use a calendar

There are very few tools as effective as a simple calendar. And the thing is, you can use the form that suits you best. Whether it’s Google Calendar, a more comprehensive calendar like Woven, a printed sheet, a daily/weekly planner, or even a plain notebook that you can turn into a bullet journal, these are all excellent tools to boost your productivity and minimize time-wasting.

If you decide to go the electronic route, you’ll find that having all your tasks, appointments, and notes in the same place opens up a lot of space for tracking and automation. So, for example, if you have clients you bill based on the number of hours spent on a task, you can easily export your calendar to an Excel spreadsheet, where you’ll get all the info you need to make your invoicing process seamless.

3. Don’t multitask

You probably already know that multitasking is a big no-no when it comes to getting things done. Working on more than one thing at a time minimizes your focus and opens up space for mistakes. Instead, make yourself focus on a single task at a time.

This can be difficult for those whose job includes a lot of surprises, but train yourself to stay present for what you’re doing. For the best results, schedule a couple of time slots in your day that you can use to deal with surprises. This way, your existing to-dos won’t suffer, but you’ll still address any possible issues.

4. Delegate

While you may not have a large team on your hands, you can still look at ways to delegate low-priority or specific skill-driven tasks. This way, you can focus on what you do best, and you can still be sure that things will get done.

Today, it’s easy to find freelancers through platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr. Furthermore, you can use these websites to find a virtual assistant who doesn’t have to be expensive but is sure to yield results.

5. Plan for rest

When it comes to work, more is not always better. In fact, it’s been shown that productivity drops dramatically after 8 hours of work. Moreover, a rising number of companies are experimenting with shorter workdays and workweeks.

While you don’t have to give up precious time for good, it’s still a great idea to plan for rest in your daily schedule. This can be 5 minutes of relaxation after every 25 minutes of work, or even a nap after lunch. You’re likely to find that allowing your brain to rest and restart will make you not only more alert, but more creative as well.

There you have it: the top 5 time management strategies you can start implementing today. Try them out, and see which ones work for you. These are all easy to apply and can be modified to suit your needs, allowing you to find the ideal formula that will help you achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.

Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.

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