Entrepreneurs often struggle with distractions, time management, and productivity challenges. These time management tips and techniques are some of the tools I use for removing the clutter and noise so I can get work done.
1. Declutter the browser
Tabs are distracting, create clutter and really don’t help if you’ve got 20 open at the same time.
If you are busy researching something then you can justify needing multiple tabs to help reference check and brainstorm. But if you need to concentrate on writing then closing down those tabs make sense.
One of the things I used to always do during my breaks from writing was to click on interesting links in my Facebook feed.
It’s a terrible habit. I’d open the link and then realise that I would need more time to fully read the article (I don’t like skimming or speed reading). So I would leave the tab in the browser and put it aside for research later. During another break I might do the same with several other links. After a while I would have twenty open tabs. They not only distracted me but make the screen more cluttered and hard to read.
Pocket is an app for your browser and devices that allows you to save pages for reading later. A browser plugin adds a little button to the Chrome’s top bar and clicking once on this button adds the page to your ‘Pocket’.
Later when you have time to actually read the content you can open pocket on your iPad for example and read the articles at leisure. This is vital to free up your time and mind for when you can absorb articles not related to tasks at hand.
2. Time management goals
I like using two different apps that do similar things to set myself time limits, time goals, and to record my work effort. Toggl and Pomodoro One are free tools for time tracking and scheduling that I use simultaneously.
I use Toggl to record exactly how long I spend on a task or job. In the past, I would have only had a vague notion of how much time I’d spent on something. I’d think that I’d done very little work on a project whereas in reality I’d just have no idea. Toggl showed me that I was wrong about the time invested. This helps prevent wasted time if you are running up against problems. Banging my head against a wall over a problem for 3 hours is not always the best use of my time. I find that splitting tasks into smaller, less stressful, and more manageable chunks works well. This is where the Pomodoro One comes in. I like to work in 60-minute chunks. I will extend this if I’m working efficiently and am ‘in the zone’. I cut it short if a problem is beating me fair and square. That’s not to say I ignore these kinds of problems, but sleeping on it can sometimes be all I need to find solutions.
I could use Toggl alone to record 60 minutes of work. But I think that the Pomodoro One app reinforces the time aspect. It’s satisfying to hear the alarm go when you’ve been working on something for a while. It reminds me that my brain needs a rest, and also that you’ve been working hard. A pat on the back is great encouragement. We thrive on small victories and achievements and rewarding ourselves with some self-encouragement and recognition is a good habit.
3. Going 100% distraction free
Probably the best way to remove distractions on your computer is to disconnect the wifi or cable. But the temptation is to turn it back on again. If you are committed to working distraction-free then take a look at the Freedom app.
Freedom is a nice looking app. It’s simple to use, and literally gives you freedom to think and work. To block Facebook I add Facebook to the ‘blacklist’ and then start a session. During the session time I won’t be able to access Facebook at all. It’s an extreme measure but the fact that it only takes a couple of clicks to end up in a Facebook time-suck means extreme measures are sometimes required.
Try these techniques as see if your productivity improves. Entrepreneurs and small business owners need all the time we can find so any little extra helps.