Entrepreneurs everywhere face a similar challenge every day: It seems there's always more to do than time in which to do it. The good news is that since all of us are working on a time-management and productivity equation, there's plenty of good advice to go around.
Consider these seven tips from professionals and experts.
1. Batch similar tasks
Getting into a groove counts for a lot, when it comes to making the most of your task list. Erica Duran, a business-productivity expert, suggests grouping similar to-dos--think: email, writing, social media, and phone calls, for example--into separate chunks of time.
"If you stop and start different things, you lose momentum by switching gears," she says.
2. Tackle your toughest task in the morning
"Mark Twain once said, 'If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, nothing else will seem that bad for the rest of the day'," noted Anne Grady, entrepreneur and expert in the field of personal and organizational transformation. "So, every morning, before you check your social media or read your emails, pick your most difficult task of the day--your frog--and get it done."
Even if you can't see that particular item all the way through, you're starting your workday with another small victory of the productive kind. And that's a recipe for success in the time-management realm.
3. Track task time: plan empirically
The time it takes you to do a task today helps you predict the time it'll take to knock off that same item the next time around. David Ring, product marketing manager at Computer Market Research, makes "a list of everything I have accomplished during the week. I also include an estimate of how long it took me. This way, if I need to do that task again, I have a good idea of how much time to budget for it."
4. Demand quality; review less
Quality is always important, but when it comes to the routine and non-critical work of your employees--let them prove their worth. If their output doesn't measure up to the standard barring your review and revision, it could be time to address the potential of a deeper workplace problem with that individual.
5. Focus your efforts, declare small victories
Multi-tasking doesn't merit a badge of honor; it often cuts into your sense of accomplishment. "When you're checking your email, responding to a text message, and reading a news article all at once, you'll feel overwhelmed," says Dr. Jenny Yip, an expert on anxiety and productivity. Instead, focus on earning one small victory at a time, building up the momentum and positive reinforcement that will carry you through to the end of your list.
6. Breaks are part of being productive
We are not machines. And, especially if we work with them all day, breaks restore focus and energy to our bodies and minds. You can't be at your best if you're feeling run down. "If you are sitting at a computer for most of the day, take occasional breaks," says Dr. Jan Yager, time management consultant, "even if it's five to 10 minutes, to increase your productivity and decrease your propensity for mistakes or accidents."
7. Make a list for tomorrow
Finally, at the end of every day--after you've batched and tracked, delegated and focused--make a short-list of three to six top tasks for the next day. Start with those. Sometimes pick the hardest of them to do first.