By Samuel Thimothy, is the VP at OneIMS.com.
An entrepreneur's day never ends. From the moment you wake up in the morning until you crawl back in bed at night, your to-do list is calling your name. When your phone is constantly ringing, your email is always pinging and your attention is being pulled in a million different directions, it can feel like you'll never get anything accomplished.
I've found that keeping a clean schedule is crucial to finishing my work. When I know exactly what I'm going to do and when I can plan my day to maximize each minute. In fact, when I time my projects correctly, I can even find free time throughout my day. However, getting great at scheduling didn't come without some trial and error. Here are some of the techniques I've found help me get more done in less time.
Make a Prioritized To-Do List
Before you can tackle your day, you need to know exactly what you need to accomplish. While your priorities may change as the day goes on, I always like to start with a prioritized to-do list. Every night, make a list of tasks you need to finish the next day. In the morning, reorder them from most to least important. This gives you a plan so you know which tasks you should tackle first.
Although new priorities may come up throughout the day, a to-do list gives you an opportunity to see just what you need to do. This prevents you from forgetting something important and ensures you stay on track.
Block Off Project Time
When members of your team need your help or clients have important questions they need you to answer, you need to be available. Unfortunately, if you're responding to calls and emails immediately when they come in, it can be difficult to get anything else done. When you're giving all your attention to the people around you, your projects usually take a backseat.
Blocking off specific time each day to work on your projects can help you stay on task. While you should always be available for emergencies, time blocking can let both clients and team members know when you're busy. During these scheduled periods, don't answer emails, respond to calls or run errands. Instead, focus entirely on your projects.
Use Timers to Stay Focused
Entrepreneurs need to be able to multitask. In order for your business to grow, you need to be able to keep many wheels moving at once. However, when you're not giving each piece the proper attention, you can fall behind, make careless mistakes or forget important steps.
One of my favorite tricks for staying focused is using a timer. I'll choose a specific task or project I'd like to focus on, then set a timer for 25 minutes. While the timer is running, I focus only on completing that task. While 25 minutes may not seem like enough time to really get something done, working without interruptions can help you make serious progress.
When those 25 minutes are up, take a short break and check your email, the news or your voicemail. If nothing pressing has come up, repeat the process and work for another 25 minute period.
Everyone knows entrepreneurs work hard. However, working hard is not the same as working efficiently. If you constantly feel like you're working all day, only to accomplish very little, you may have a problem with your scheduling. Creating a schedule that works for you can help you stay on track and ensure your tasks get done on time. Not only will this help you manage your stress -- it can also make you more available to help your team members or strategize on what you should do next. While these techniques work for me, they may not be right for you. Give them a shot, but don't be afraid to mix up your strategy to better fit your needs.
Samuel Thimothy is the VP at OneIMS.com, an inbound marketing agency and co-founded Clickx.io, the digital marketing intelligence platform.