Time is an incredibly valuable, non-renewable resource. Managed well time can be our ally, but once it gets away from us, time is a formidable uncompromising foe. This is especially true for fashion business entrepreneurs. Why? Because we must inherently balance short term goals while pursuing long term obligations such as showing your Spring/Summer offerings at trade shows while designing and sourcing your Fall/Winter collection. Employing effective time management forces us to focus and enables us to do the greatest good for our business and brand.
Here are ten tips to help you better manage your time and get more done:
1. Keep a schedule.
Keeping a schedule is a sure fire way to make the most of your day and get more done. Although making and keeping a schedule may take some getting used to it is truly worth it, especially for creative entrepreneurs, because you are less likely to forget tasks and more likely to accomplish your big ideas.
2. Focus on your big idea.
Your big idea represents a mid-term or long-term goal you’d like to accomplish. Establishing a sure big idea will help you prioritize and focus your resources on all that is required to accomplish it. Your daily priorities and subsequent tasks should directly align with your big idea.
3. Establish your priorities.
It is important to determine which tasks are most important so choose a priority system that fits your unique needs. Decide whether the deadline, length of time required for completion, or relative value will cause you to consider a particular task a priority.
4. Write down your tasks.
Denote two to three tasks you’d like to accomplish each day that are associated with your priorities and nudge you a step closer to accomplishing your big idea.
Helpful Hint: Do your toughest task first. Getting the hardest or most important task done first will bolster your willpower and make you feel more accomplished as the breeze through the remainder of the day’s tasks.
5. Schedule a time for each task.
Determine what amount of time will be required to complete each activity. Avoid stress or disappointment by being very realistic about how long each task will take and don’t schedule yourself too tightly. Helpful hint: Making and keeping a schedule takes some getting used to, so I suggest that you spend the first few days with a stop watch to determine precisely how long a task actually takes. Doing so will help you develop a more accurate schedule in the future.
6. Add time cushions.
Let’s be honest, most people underestimate the amount of time a task will take so I’d like to suggest that you add 25% to the time you have allotted for tasks. For example, if you’d like to respond to all your emails within 20 minutes, allow yourself approximately 25 minutes instead. The cushion will help you avoid being late or falling behind.
Helpful Hint: Time cushions also offer you a great opportunity to transition from one tasks to the next. Although you are a laser-focused unstoppable entrepreneur, it is unreasonable to assume you will sit at your lap top or drafting table all day. Offer yourself a few minutes between emails, phone calls, or meetings to breath, stretch, or even take a brief walk. Doing so will refresh your mind, keep your motivation high, and allow you to function at your best.
7. Remain flexible.
Strategically place some free time into your schedule for low priority tasks. Free, flexible time will allow you to tackle easily forgotten activities that are that are not pressing or time sensitive. A few extra minutes will also enable you to adjust your schedule when you need to give your attention to unforeseen tasks.
8. Check your schedule frequently.
Live by your established schedule and check it frequently throughout the day to determine whether you are on track to accomplish everything. Also, audit your time each week to determine exactly where it is going. Shave off or add time where appropriate and develop a more concise schedule for the days ahead. Eliminate what drains you or doesn’t add value to your business or brand.
9. Start early.
There never seems to be quite enough hours in the day, but an early rise is a sure way to add purpose and productivity. By getting your day started before sunrise, you demonstrate more willpower and are less likely to be distracted. Being up by 5:00AM – yes five o’clock ante meridiem – gives you the opportunity to set the tone and plan for the day ahead.
Helpful Hint: Rest six to eight hours each night and build your early bird habit slowly. Rather than switch your habits drastically, wake up fifteen minutes earlier each morning and go to bed fifteen minutes earlier each evening. Before you know it, you’ll be awake and ready for your 5:00AM alarm.
10. Be early.
When’s the last time you were the first to arrive? There is absolutely nothing wrong with being reasonably early to an appointment or ahead of schedule. Being early gives you the opportunity to be offensive and proactive rather than defensive and reactive. You’ll have time to assess your position and prepare for what is to come. The best way to manage time is to stay ahead of it so always strive to be first, not last, and never late.