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Why Time Is Your Most Important Business Resource Make a personalized effort to better manage your time to more effectively prioritize your efforts toward what you most want.

By Chris Porteous

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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.

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 you start with an audit of your daily habits to see where you're wasting the most time.

A number of digital apps now exist to help show you where you're wasting your time and how to make better use of it.

Related: 6 Great Time-Management Apps and Tips That Boost Productivity

Installing a fancy 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 versus 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 your 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.

Prioritizing is the key to success.

Most time management philosophies revolve around proper prioritization; after all, if you can't arrive at an understanding of what needs to be done immediately versus that which can be delayed, you'll always be misapplying your time. Consider having a company-wide list of your most pressing business decisions. Urgent matters that must be dealt with can be brushed under the rug when no one is keeping track of forthcoming deadlines.

A business-wide commitment to deadlines is vitally important; company executives who fail to meet important commitments cannot 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.

Related: 5 Keys to Promoting Accountability in Your Business

Make sure your managers and leadership figures understand how to prioritize properly. Everyday employees who are struggling to climb the corporate ladder can be frustrated by managers who don't know how to prioritize their work. So individual workers should read up on how to prioritize when their leaders don't know to.

At all times, company leaders should be prepared to step in and help employees prioritize when they're struggling with a huge workload. Managers can only be effective when the meddle for the better. But, make sure that you're not over analyzing the schedules of each of your workers and micromanaging their every move.

Personalization is imperative to the success of time management. It's important to understand that not everyone prioritizes work-related goals the same. Different workers may employ different time management philosophies. It's crucial to understand what unique approach you need to embrace. Learn how to take a personal approach to keeping close track of your minutes and you'll be achieving more in no time.

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. Far too many workers drive themselves to the brink of insanity by keeping a close track of each second as it passes, when in reality all you need to do is have an understandable schedule and a realistic list of priorities. Effective time management that reaches into your personal life shouldn't try to dictate your free time too much, for instance. Closely choreographing your blissful moments of relaxation is just another way of overworking yourself outside the office.

The important takeaway here is that time management is a vital part of success in the modern business world yet can't be trusted to entirely dictate your life. You always 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 actually in the office. Time is the most important resource in business precisely because it determines everything else -- if you're not carefully balancing your vacation time with your work time, you'll soon find both have been frivolously wasted.

Related: These 5 Mindful Habits Will Keep You From Burning Out

A major part of refusing to let time management become a stressor in your life is learning to focus on those business task which are important rather than just those which are urgent. Meeting important forthcoming deadlines is important, and you should never deliberately ignore a timeline you'd put together in the past, but part of being an expert at time management is understanding that you need to retain a certain degree of flexibility to react to important issues as they arise.

Focusing on what's important.

Perhaps the most vital lesson you can learn when it comes to managing your time wisely is that not everything which is 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 as to better be aware of what's importance versus what's urgent is the final step of becoming a time management guru.

Related: The #1 Secret to Amazing Time and Calendar Management

Read up on how to schedule important tasks versus urgent ones, and you'll quickly see that the common elements of flexibility and prioritization turn up anywhere that time management is mentioned. Refuse to allow anxiety to take ahold of you and instead focus on the most pressing issues and you'll soon discover time management to be much easier than you have imagined. The largest corporations and the smallest mom and pop shops alike have to make proper use of their time if they want to succeed, and you're no different. 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.
Chris Porteous

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

High Performance Growth Marketer

Chris Porteous is CEO of SearchEye, which offers unbundled digital marketing projects for clients and agencies across the globe.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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