You might believe you are already effective at managing your time. If there's anything I've learned it's that when it comes to time management it's a continual work of improvement.

There are three keys to time management.

Most important, always make sure you decide what you need to do tomorrow at the end of today.

This may seem like a small thing, and it's really easy to say, 'I'll make a list first thing in the morning,' but don't do it. If you make your list in the morning it's like skipping breakfast; you've conditioned your mind to start the day unfocused. It's like going for a hard workout with low blood sugar, because not only are you unfocused but you're forced to complete a very difficult series of tasks in rapid succession. You'll be accessing creative centers, problem solving, and organization just to get your list for the day. It may not seem like a lot but the resources required to complete this (just to decide what to do first) will seriously limit your ability to complete the list you've just worked so hard to make.

Maxwell Maltz, author of a must-read book called Psycho Cybernetics, talks about what he calls "rehearsal within the theatre of the mind." By outlining your tasks the night before, your subconscious mind goes immediately to work preparing for the first task you will complete the next morning. This sets the stage for immediate productivity and easier completion of pre-arranged tasks because your subconscious mind has already been planning solutions.

Second, make sure that you begin with the most difficult thing first.

It's been proven in my own action, and I've seen it in countless others, avoiding hard tasks leads to procrastination or continual distraction. As the days wear on we're undoubtedly met with resistance, adversity or unexpected events (maybe all of the above.) Each requires a great deal of emotional energy to conquer and as a result it means less emotional energy to tackle daily tasks. If you avoid completing the most difficult thing first you will avoid it all day, every day and onward forever. Difficult tasks build up; these lead to major roadblocks and crush the momentum of any business.

The third and final critical component of time management is chunking.

Chunking is simply the act of grouping like tasks together. The time it takes to become creative, to think of an idea and write this column is lost if I immediately move on to something else. So rather than moving on to a different task I group writing tasks together. Prior to writing this article I wrote a blog post, which lead to this column idea and in the last few paragraphs has manifested into other ideas. I'll chunk a couple hours together and write three to five pieces of content. This satisfies one of my tasks for the next 10 days. Now I can move on to the next chunk which could be 60 minutes of responding to emails, a list of follow up calls, or if it's on my list ideally more creative work like promotional copy, etc.

It's not surprising that employees congregate around the water cooler in late morning or mid afternoon. I believe even committed people have a hard time maintaining razor focus and productivity for long periods. And as events occur and the day wears on our reserve of emotional energy is quickly drained. Working longer is not realistic, working smarter and more efficiently is; and it leaves a lot more time for fun.

Cabel McElderry, now known as the Profitable Personal Trainer, struggled as a solo personal trainer for nearly eight years before learning the strategies he needed to transform his barely six-figure business to a seven-figure (and growing) training studio in just a couple years. His studio (One-to-1 Fitness), now 5 years old, has won multiple awards for business excellence. Cabel has been recognized as one of the top 100 fitness entrepreneurs in North America and is currently one of 50 nominees for Optimum Nutrition's Canadian Trainer of the Year. Cabel still trains a handful of clients as his passion to help others will never fade but has also evolved. Cabel now also mentors fitness professionals in an effort to help them achieve similar or better results than his own.

Topic: Entrepreneur Web Column

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