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4 Ways to Make Time Your Most Important Business Resource If you've been wasting your time, you've been squandering the asset that could help your business succeed. These tips will help you use your time more wisely.

By Napoleon Hill

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Witthaya Prasongsin | Getty Images

The following excerpt is from Napoleon Hill's Success Masters. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

It's no secret that proper time management is a crucial element of success regardless of who you are or what you do. Nonetheless, far too few business professionals appreciate time as one of the most important resources around, and precious little is being done in the average workplace to make better use of everyone's most limited asset.

Despite the heavy focus on profitability or the strength of your human capital, managing your time properly is by far the most important element of success in today's market. And yet you're likely wasting it.

Here are some tactics to make better use of your working hours:

1. You need a personalized approach

Most people are familiar with the fact that time management is important, yet precious few understand that you need a personalized approach to seriously achieve any extra efficiency in your day. This is because everyone's schedule is unique -- no one else understands the importance of your time during particular periods of your schedule. But to appreciate that yourself, it's important to start with an audit of your daily habits to see where you're wasting the most time.

A number of digital apps can show you where you're wasting time and how to make better use of it. Installing an app on your smartphone or computer will likely help you watch your minutes more closely, and it may even result in some extra productivity, but you need to understand that you're the one in control of your time, not some machine. Successful time management is all about self-control and the ability to honestly assess your own situation to determine when you're dithering vs. when you're making the right decisions.

Only after you've thoroughly and honestly reviewed your daily schedule to see where you're wasting time can you begin to make meaningful life adjustments. Smart time management tips for small-business owners often emphasize a consistent theme -- brutal honesty when assessing something's importance is a crucial part of time management.

It's helpful to break down daily tasks and responsibilities into categories that are ranked by matter of importance. You may discover that you're wasting untold minutes on insignificant duties that can be dedicated elsewhere. Furthermore, categorizing your daily responsibilities in terms of their importance helps you focus on the most urgent and pressing of issues first.

Related: The 6 Things It Takes to Spark Change in Your Life

2. Prioritizing is the key to success

Most time management philosophies revolve around proper prioritization; after all, if you can't understand what needs to be done immediately vs. what can be delayed, you'll always be misapplying your time. Urgent matters that must be dealt with can be brushed under the rug when no one is keeping track of forthcoming deadlines. So, consider maintaining a companywide list of your most pressing business decisions.

A business-wide commitment to deadlines is vitally important; company executives who fail to meet important commitments can't be let off the hook. Rank-and-file workers who see such behavior will quickly learn that they don't have to deal with urgent matters themselves when the boss doesn't, either.

Make sure everyone in a leadership position understands how to prioritize properly. Employees who are struggling to climb the corporate ladder can be frustrated by managers who don't know how to prioritize their work, so workers should study how to prioritize if their leaders don't know how to.

Company leaders should always be prepared to step in and help employees prioritize when they're struggling with a huge workload. But make sure you're not over-analyzing your employees' schedules or micromanaging their every move.

Personalization is imperative to successful time management. It's important to understand that not everyone prioritizes work-related goals the same, and it's crucial to understand what unique approach you need to embrace. Learn how to take a personal approach to time management, and you'll be achieving more in no time.

3. Don't let time management become a stressor

Despite how important it is to closely manage your time, it's also true that time management can become a serious stressor if you're not doing it properly. In reality, all you need is an understandable schedule and a realistic list of priorities. For instance, effective time management that reaches into your personal life shouldn't dictate your free time too much. Closely choreographing your blissful moments of relaxation is just another way of overworking yourself outside the office.

The important takeaway here is that you need to leave yourself an unscheduled block of free time that can be used to do whatever you want -- maybe it's catching up on work, a favorite TV show, or the list of household chores you've been ignoring for too long. Whatever it is, having some time to "take care of the little things" in your life and forget about the hectic world of your workplace is an important part of staying productive when you're in the office.

Related: Creating a Mindset That Will Help You Succeed

4. Focus on what's important

Perhaps the most vital lesson you can learn when it comes to managing your time wisely is that not everything that's urgent is important and vice versa. Sometimes you'll need to take care of an issue immediately but will find it to be of trivial importance. Elsewhere you'll encounter decisions of chief importance to your company that can technically be put off for days, weeks, or even months. Learning to properly categorize your duties and incoming projects so you're more aware of what's important vs. what's urgent is the final step of becoming a time management guru.

Read up on how to schedule important tasks vs. urgent ones, and you'll quickly see that the common elements of flexibility and prioritization turn up anywhere that time management is mentioned. If you refuse to allow anxiety to take hold of you and instead focus on the most pressing issues, you'll soon discover time management is much easier than you imagined. Pay close attention to how you're spending your precious time and take some extra steps to more cautiously chart out your days, and your business will soon be thriving.

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