Being successful in business means that you master the art of time management.
Over the last few decades, countless books have been written on ways to get things done more efficiently. And while no one plan works for everyone, there are some basic ideas that work no matter what industry or job title you have.
Here’s how to stay organized, never drop the ball, and execute a master plan that makes you successful. You need all four of these:
1. A daily calendar that is your religion
Google Calendar is probably the easiest way to stay on schedule. Since it works online, on your computer, and on your mobile device adding new events and checking in on your busy day is never easier. By the way, you can do the same thing with the daily planner that you carry with you. Just don’t lose it, because there’s no such thing as a backup copy.
Get in the habit of planning out your day by blocking out time on your schedule. That will leave you uninterrupted blocks of time to get your most important work done. And don’t schedule all your meetings back-to-back. Leave 15 to 20 minutes in between meetings or important events. That will allow you time to debrief, stretch your legs, or run to the coffee machine or bathroom.
Get in the habit of working within the constraints of your schedule. Don’t let meetings get too long and don’t let yourself take extra time on projects. Focus for short bursts of time and get what you need done in the time scheduled.
Tools: Google Calendar, iCloud, or Bing or Yahoo calendars.
2. Project tracking built around communication.
Not everything you do is a meeting. A lot of the time you are working on projects that involve multiple meetings and many different team members. So you need a way to stay organized, keep communication going outside of email, and know when milestones and deadlines need to be accomplished. That’s where a project management platform can help.
Tools like Asana and Do.com provide a place where large projects can be broken down into smaller tasks. You can assign tasks to different team members and get notified when their assignments are satisfactorily finished — or overdue. You can attach files that relate to the project you’re working on and even set up recurring tasks that remind you to do important things each day.
Sometimes a reminder is the difference between following through or leaving a bad impression.
Tools: Asana, Do.com, Wunderlist, Evernote, Flow, Nozbe, or Any.do.
3. A big bucket for ideas that need to be remembered.
Innovation is fun to be part of. But big ideas can cripple your daily performance.
So you need to balance the two: getting things done each day while not forgetting awesome ideas that you have in the meanwhile. So you need a place to write down all of your ideas just as you think of them.
Tools like Evernote and Remember the Milk have fantastic online tools and mobile applications. Anywhere at anytime if you get a good idea you can record it so that you never forget it. The key is to get the idea out of your head as quickly as possible and then go back to doing what you need to be doing at the moment. You have peace of mind that you aren’t forgetting anything while continuing to do what is necessary to move you closer to your goals.
Tools: SpringPad, Remember the Milk, Evernote, ReQall, or Catch.
4. Reminders that keep you focused and unforgettable.
Lists and tools are only as smart as you program them. The busyness of your day-to-day schedule can make it all to easy to forget to follow-up with people and opportunities that could be otherwise life-changing.
Take “good to do” actions and turn them into tasks and reminders, like:
- Make (3) calls each weekto old relationships you haven’t talked with in awhile.
- Send (1) handwritten note each day to a friend or business prospect.
- Check your spam folder each week for important emails that might have slipped past your inbox.
- Look through big ideas bucket each week and schedule tasks and priorities.
- Use apps that return emails to your inbox that have not received a reply yet.
By the way, you don’t need to plan your schedule the night before. Sometimes the morning of your day is good enough. And if you have reminders, you can use the time for something else that you enjoy a little more.
Tools: Boomerang for Gmail, recurring project tasks, and weekly “big picture” reminders
Keep it simple. Getting things done doesn’t need to be painful.
But you do need to have a plan and the right set of tools.
Maybe it’s time you made your life easier.