Let me start this off by mentioning that this was originally an email shared with the team at Amazing.com. I realized the advice was TOO valuable not to share with all of you, so of course I am going to!
Most people never spend a lot of time thinking about how to get the most done in the shortest amount of time possible.
There’s always going to be “too much to do” and you’re never going to be able to get everything done. The goal of time management isn’t to complete everything on your list, it’s to prioritize what’s on there.
After reading thousands of pages of time management material, going through workbooks, and even attending seminars, here is what I’ve found to be the simplest, quickest way to get in control of all the things you have going on starting today:
1. Know the bigger goal
First, start off with the bigger picture. For Amazing.com, the big picture is that we want to be THE place for helping entrepreneurs build and grow successful businesses. We want to add millions of members over the coming years and help them achieve financial freedom.
Ask yourself: What is YOUR business’s long-term objective? If you don’t know it yet, now is the time to figure that out. Everything you do (goals, tasks, etc.) should be tied to your long-term objective.
Second, start creating a single list in ONE single place you can easily access (I use a Google Doc called “Goals & Actions”) to capture all your “to do’s” and ideas you have about stuff you COULD do.
Any time you have something new added to your plate, or you have a great idea of something you’d like to do, add it to this list.
This one step can greatly reduce your anxiety about having “too much to do” because you don’t have to try to remember everything you have to do. You have it all in one place, and can easily reference the list when you’re in a position to actually work.
3. Plan your week
Each week, sit down (ideally on Sunday night) and take items from your “Capture List” that you’d like to knock out this week. Pretty simple, but this plans your week. Whatever you don’t complete for the week, move it back to your Capture List.
4. Plan your day
Once you’ve done steps 1-3, deciding what to do each day is easy. Just take a handful of items from your weekly list and mark those as items you’d like to complete today.
Inevitably, things will pop up that you don’t expect that will prevent you from getting everything on your list done. This is okay! Just move the items from that day back to your weekly list, and start over again the next day.
This is how I’ve planned every week for the past two years. It helps reduce stress, keeps me focused, allows me to start each day knowing exactly what to do, and allows me to end each day feeling that I’ve accomplished something.
There you have it, four super simple steps to manage your time. Tried it out? Let me know how it affects your productivity!
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.