Busy entrepreneurs who know how to manage their time are happier and healthier. They understand the open secrets about the importance of planning, how to avoid dead minutes. healthy eating, why written schedules make a difference, how to avoid burnout, why adapting makes sense, how to take the right kind of breaks, and how to plan for leisure breaks. The secret about schedule management is that there really is no secret. All the key principles have been in the public domain for decades.
Even when the concept became a major point of discussion in books and magazines back in the 1940s, anyone who wanted to learn about it could simply visit the public library. But just because the concepts and techniques are available doesn’t mean people use them. If you want to be one of those professionals who have things under control and always seem to have enough hours to do whatever they want, consider the following not-so-secret secrets about taming the clock once and for all.
Planning is the Backbone of the System
No rational adult would try to live without a budget, spending carelessly without knowing how much of your hard-earned income comes in goes in your account, so why would a business owner even think about going without a detailed plan for a typical day? If you want to start off on the right foot, sit down and block out the upcoming week, making a list of everything you’ll be doing every hour of every day. It won’t take as long as you expect because there’s a lot of repetition. For example, you probably sleep about eight hours each night, eat something before heading out the door, travel to your job, work until lunch, take a break to eat, work until 5 p.m. or so, travel home, and begin your nightly routine. The point is to put it all in writing, being careful to catch all the details, projects, and specific tasks you’ll be working on during our at-office hours. At this point, don’t worry if you need to change things later on. Just get it down on a grid and fill in every square.
Avoid Time Pits
Don’t waste minutes on useless chores, especially if it’s a task you can delegate, skip, or find a faster way of doing. For example, in Ohio and many other states, it’s possible to order a medical marijuana (MMJ) card online rather than drive to a state office and apply for one there. All it takes is a quick visit to a website like NuggMD and you can take care of business in less than 20 minutes. That hands-down beats making the drive and waiting in line to fill out forms in person. This is a prime example of the principle of avoiding time pits. Time pits are otherwise dead minutes that could be recovered if only you took a different approach. Another common example of a pit is a personal telephone call. This isn’t to say that chatting with friends is useless, but if you do it during the day when you could, and should be working, then you’re making an error that costs you dearly.
Eat One Meal Per Work Shift
Smart managers and owners who are employed outside their homes eat their first meal of the day before leaving for the office. The bring a packed lunch and eat it about midway between the beginning and end of the day. Then, they head home and eat dinner whenever it’s their custom to do so. This seemingly simple plan accomplishes several goals. First, you don’t waste minutes preparing food and cleaning up at the office in the morning. Second, you don’t need to go out to lunch or spend money buying something in a cafeteria. Finally, it keeps you from snacking on the job and delivers a dose of stamina to your system exactly when you need it, in the middle of the day.
There’s a social myth that hard-working people who are single-minded about their careers to the point of avoiding breaks and downtime are go-getters and tough competitors. Sadly, they’re not headed for anything but burnout. When you neglect to give your body and mind breaks, you stress them to the point of no return. They’ll put up with this sort of punishment for a while, and you’ll feel like you’re getting a lot done, but eventually ether your brain or your body will say ‘no more’. That’s a round-about way of defining burnout. Don’t fall into the trap. There are simple ways to side-step burnout and still get plenty of productive work done every day. Instead of enduring for hours on end, take frequent, short breaks throughout the day. Only eat at lunchtime, drink lots of water, walk when you can, even if it’s for a few minutes at a throw, take the steps instead of the elevator, and avoid sitting for long periods.
Schedule Free Time Too
With all the emphasis on how to manage the clock, make the most of every hour, focus on work efficiency, and abide by schedules, it’s easy to forget that downtime is an essential element of a well-rounded day. All work and no play leads to burnout, but the trick about deliberately putting fun activities into a written schedule seems silly to some people, it’s anything but. If you are serious about learning the nuances of smart schedule management, then it’s important to plan your free hours as carefully as you do your work hours. Smart entrepreneurs place hour-by-hour bricks of leisure on weeknights and throughout weekends. Consider committing to at least two fun nights every week, and several during Saturdays and Sundays when you have no other commitments. You get a double bonus of relaxation when those open hours are filled with physical activities like bowling, softball, exploratory walks around town, golf, game nights, or anything else that engages your body and not just your mind. Avoid spending free hours at bars unless you visit for a quick drink and to hear some live music.