Article Summary: Small business owners probably spend more time at work than the average employee. How do you make the most of the time you spend getting stuff done. Here are four time management techniques to help you maximize the time you devote to building and running a successful business:
- The RPM or Rapid Planning Method introduced by Tony Robbins
- The Pomodoro technique
- The Rule of 52 and 17
Continue reading to learn more and decide which of these techniques will work for you.
Small business owners are often the first to arrive and the last to leave the office. With myriad responsibilities to juggle and being pulled into various directions, managing time wisely is a constant challenge. A report by Inc. found the average employee is truly productive at the office for less than three hours a day. As a small business owner, you can’t risk falling into this category if you want to stay profitable. Here are four time management strategies small business owners can try to stay more productive.
RPM is short for Rapid Planning Method and was created by business strategist Tony Robbins. Robbins calls RPM a system of thinking, rather than a time management strategy. Robbins says alternatively, RPM could stand for Results-oriented/Purpose-drive/Massive Action Plan. Business owners can use RPM to identify a specific goal, reasons why achieving that goal is important and various ways to reach the goal.
Business owners should use the mission and values of the business to create goals that are in line with the vision. Overarching goals can be broken down into projects, which are further broken down into tasks. The emotions and purpose that are propelling the vision and goals help to increase motivation and momentum for the smaller projects and tasks. The RPM helps business owners stay focused and can be revisited and evolved over time.
Chunking has long been considered one of the best techniques for memorizing large bits of information. Breaking down massive amounts of info into smaller “chunks” that contain associated items makes memorization easier. Similarly in business, instead of getting paralyzed by a massive to-do list and focusing on whatever is in front of you in the moment, break down large amounts of tasks into more manageable chunks to get things done.
Chunking related to time management involves writing down your daily or weekly tasks, then looking for commonalities among them. “Chunk” those individual tasks together into groups. Dedicate a period of time to accomplishing those. Watch your to-do list whittle away.
While chunking breaks down your list of tasks, the Pomodoro technique breaks down the time you have to work. It was created by Francesco Cirillo in the early 1990s. Take any large task or series of tasks you have, and get to work on them by dedicating 25-minute, focused intervals to being productive. The Pomodoro technique is often used with a timer, and each 25-minute interval is called a Pomodoro.
After working for 25 minutes with laser-like focus, take a short 5-minute break. Then, get to your next Pomodoro. The Pomodoro technique is effective is because:
- The physical act of winding up or pressing a timer primes you to get in a work-ready mindset
- The “ding” at the end of the interval becomes associated with a sense of accomplishment for what you worked on
- The short breaks recharge you so that you can continue to be productive during your next Pomodoro
Like any time management technique mentioned here, in order for the Pomodoro technique to be effective, all other distractions should be eliminated while you’re working. That means turning off email notifications and shutting the door.
Rule of 52 and 17
Similar to the Pomodoro technique, the Rule of 52 and 17 suggests that productivity increases when you focus on the tasks at hand, and only those, in this case for 52 minutes, then take a 17 minute break. These number of minutes surfaced from a study by the Draugiem Group using time tracking app DeskTime to see what types of work habits increase productivity.
For 52 minutes, the goal is to work with purpose, meaning working to produce great results and to gain accomplishments. Having 17 minutes to take a break allows you to get up and take a walk, which increases endorphins, or eat a healthy snack, connect with a coworker outside your office, etc.
Breaks are crucial to maintaining attention spans. If you’re not getting the results you want with the Pomodoro technique because distractions keep popping up during the 25-minute intervals, blocking out a longer amount of time with the Rule of 52 and 17 may work better.
How to Make These Techniques Work
RPM, chunking, Pomodoro and the Rule of 52 and 17 only work when you ditch multitasking and completely focus on what you’re doing. Use these strategies to make any productivity hack you try more effective.
- Use a website blocker. If you have a habit of checking Facebook every 5 minutes or feel tempted to read world news, use a website blocker app while you’re working on your tasks. There are plenty of free ones that give you the power to shut off sites and applications while you’re working.
- Block off your calendar. There is ample data that most meetings are a waste of time. Without focused agendas, when employees are allowed to be late, and when meetings are scheduled to be much longer than necessary, productivity time is wasted. Avoid being pulled into meetings where your presence isn’t necessary by blocking off calendar time to dedicate to working on tasks that are meaningful to you. As a business owner, you can also help to shape a company culture that makes meetings much more strategic by implementing stand-up-style meetings or creating guidelines that keep meetings focused.
- Delegate. As you use RPM to see the big-picture of your goals and tasks, identify work you can pass on and work that you need to do yourself. This helps you to make better use of your time as you chunk together your tasks, which you can then focus on and work on using Pomodoro or Rule of 52 and 17 techniques.
There are countless other time management strategies and productivity techniques whose principles you can try to see what