As someone who thrives on productivity and performs best when tasked with multiple challenges and responsibilities, I’m constantly trying to sharpen my entrepreneurial toolkit. Staying busy means my brain is “on” 24/7, and I prefer it that way.
But at the same time, I’ve also learned how to optimize my time management so that I stay productive, motivated, and most importantly, fulfilled. If you’re struggling with time management, regardless of your seniority or the industry you’re in, there are ways you can work on being more strategic with your time investments so you get more from your time in the long run.
Just like investing, learning how to make time workfor you— not the other way around — is a key step in scaling your business and your personal ambitions.
Here are 4 ways I’ve learned on how to invest my time more wisely:
1.Audit your schedule
One way to evaluate if you’re truly streamlining your workday, tasks, and schedule, is by performing a self-audit. Every smart and successful business owner and employee will also constantly be thinking in terms of the bottom line, and it should be no different when it comes to demands on your time.
Say you (or your employees) spend five hours on a task and that roughly translates to $300 in labor, yet the lifetime value for the product is far less than that. Not only are you wasting your time, you’re wasting your money. Hold yourself accountable. Learn how to manage your time wisely, and never waste it.
To perform an audit, use an old-school planner, Google calendar, Asana — whatever task manager that works best for you — and time how long each task takes. If you learn that one of the items in your to-do list is a time-drainer, think about smart workarounds.
Is there a tool you haven’t tried that could automate some of your work? If, for example, you’re the one doing all the billing for your company, is it possible to outsource this duty? Can you delegate it? Have you looked into virtual assistants?
The reality is, you will always have the same amount of time, but if you want to succeed, your responsibilities and goals will only increase. This is why one audit is not enough. As your business grows, perform routine audits to ensure you’re still on track and budgeting your time wisely.
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” –Tony Robbins
2. Invest in others
Hiring smart, capable, out-of-the-box thinkers is how you will succeed as a business leader in your industry. Your most important team member? You can guess: Your co-founder. This person will be your #2, your deputy, your partner-in-crime. They will be the one who you can rely on when working out complex deals with clients, and piecing together a business strategy to lay out for investors. But this person can’t just be any smart individual with an impressive resume, they need to counterbalance your strengths and weaknesses.
For example, you will never succeed if your business partner is the type to agree with all of your decisions. You need someone who will push back, challenge you, and think ahead. Investing in the right people has strong dividends because they end up saving you time in the long run by coming to you with solutions, not problems.
Building a team isn’t easy, but just remember: Always hire smart people and let them bring their ideas to the table. As Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
READ ALSO: 5 Ways To Build A Successful Business
3. Don’t let the small stuff weigh you down
For small business owners, it may be necessary for you to roll up your sleeves and work on the more granular, time-consuming tasks at hand so that your business survives. However, as soon as you finally do have the resources and the staff, you must step back and focus on high-level items.
So many of us get knee-deep in day-to-day executions, that we forget to step back and look at the bigger picture. That can be dangerous for long-term strategy and monetization planning. Regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur, consultant, or employee — it doesn’t matter. You should always try to carve out time in your day to take those important steps back and create, or re-evaluate your roadmap.
Don’t just think big ideas, think colossal ideas. If you’re a mid-level employee and must ask your manager to have the spare time to be able to do this, chances are, they will be more than happy to do so, as it shows you’re showing higher-level initiative.
“Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot.” –David J. Schwartz
4.Optimize your day-to-day life
You should use the time you spend at home as a way to unwind, be with your family and loved ones, and quite simply, relax. But you should also be thinking ahead to the next day and how you can improve and optimize the tasks ahead of time.
This could be something as simple as prepping your briefcase on a Sunday night before work. It could be making your task list for the next day so you’re ready to go first thing in the morning. Work out what your daily optimization “hacks” look like, and you’ll find that not only do they save you time so that you can be focusing on higher-level plans, but they’ll create less stress and chaos in your personal life and your overall career.
Ultimately, you want to feel in control of your own time, not the other way around. The time you have is the time you can spend coming up with the next great idea, the time you can spend cracking the code for an important project, and the time you spend working on yourself and your skill set. Never underestimate or undervalue time, and know that if you invest in it the most strategic way, the payoff will be exponential.