Several years ago, I completed an international survey of over 20,000 business owners and leaders around the world. Many of the entrepreneurs I interviewed were millionaires, mostly due to their smart ideas, hard work -- and time management habits. Yes, you heard me right. These moguls were so successful in part because they knew how to be not only effective, but efficient as well. Here are the three time-management habits most of those millionaire small business owners had in common.
Habit #1: Focus on the trees, not the forest.
In the computer world, there is a term called "chunking down," which essentially means breaking things from the large whole down to its smaller parts. Most of the super-successful entrepreneurs I interviewed were in the habit of chunking their bigger projects and goals down into tinier pieces. This helped them to take action more quickly and easily, while at the same time combating a feeling of overwhelm.
Ask yourself. What is a large project or to-do I am currently struggling with getting done? How can I break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable chunk sizes?
Habit #2: Take energetic credit for completion.
Most of us wait until the very last step of a big goal or task is completed before experiencing any sense of completion, satisfaction, or accomplishment. Not so for the super-successful businesspeople I interviewed.
Instead, these millionaires were in the habit of enthusiastically taking energetic credit for any action they completed, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. There was no waiting for the big bang at the end where 100 percent of the work was done before experiencing closure; rather, they generated energy all along the way by fully recognizing (and celebrating) each item they completed.
Ask yourself. What progress have you made on a larger project or to-do that you have not given yourself full credit for?
Habit #3: Commit to calendaring and time-planning.
The super successful are in the habit of using a time-plan to get beyond procrastination. Simply put, a time-plan is a method of assigning blocks of time to those items you want to get done. To harvest the power of planning and create a working time-plan, many of the millionaires I interviewed followed these easy steps:
Identify your power times. Everyone has high and low periods of energy, attention, and focus. By knowing and understanding your own energy patterns, you can create a time-plan that takes advantage of your personal rhythms.
Set aside blocks of time for getting things done. Keeping in mind your power times, go through your calendar and schedule a specific day and period when you will work on an item. The time periods most of the millionaires used ranged from 15 to 45 minutes. Oh, and every few hours, many scheduled a ten-minute break to give their brains a chance to process any information and return to the to-do's refreshed.
Lastly, don't just plan your time in your head -- write it down. Whether you use a PDA, a calendar contact program, or a plain old date book, keeping a written record of your time-plan is key.
Ask yourself. What to-do's am I holding in my head, that I should be scheduling a time window to work on?
If all these sound too simple to be true, consider this. Most of us know what we need to do, and even how to do it. What's often missing are the habits or the discipline to achieve it in the most effective way. Just think, you may only be a few small time-management habits away from being a millionaire.