As a business owner with authority over so many pieces of your business day-to-day, you’re probably always looking for tips and tricks to help you get more done. You may even be searching for all-encompassing productivity systems to implement.
While there are certainly fantastic time management and productivity systems to choose from, a common complaint I hear is that the systems are actually too complicated. It’s too hard to master the system in order to put it to good use.
Tips and tricks can be useful too, but so often they actually don’t lead to true solutions that help you get more done in less time. They are kinda like putting bandaids on a gaping wound — not enough substance to really solve the problem.
So while I could certainly share tips and tricks or complex systems with you, I have to be honest, I don’t find that useful. What is useful are clarity questions that actually help you get to the root of the problem.
If you’re curious about how you can quit all time management systems and bypass the next “tips and tricks” article that catches your eye mid-scroll, read on. Here are 7 time management clarity questions to help you get more done in less time.
7 Critical Time Management Questions to Ask So You Can More Done Faster
What do I actually need to do this week?
This is where we typically start. It’s the beginning of a massive to-do list that causes overwhelm and, if you’re anything like me, often ends up abandoned by 2pm on Tuesday. When you start with this question, you can get a lot of concerns down on paper, but it easily segways into the next question.
What’s bothering me in my business (or life) right now?
This is a huge game changing question. When you sit down to plan your week, you’re likely bringing a lot of anxiety or concerns to the to-do list. If you ignore what’s bothering you during your weekly planning session, you’ll carry your concerns unaddressed into your week.
If you actually notice what’s bothering you with an intention to address your concerns through your planning, you’ll be able to actually ease your anxieties.
What big project keeps being put on the back burner?
This is a big one, and sometimes, it’s directly related to what’s bothering you. Imagine you have a big project you want to begin in your business, one that you know will really help your business to grow and expand, if you could only get it completed!
Maybe you’ve started it, but the action items to move it forward keeping getting bumped by urgent tasks that range in importance. Or maybe it continues to bother you because you haven’t even been able to begin!
Regardless of the project’s status, addressing the fact that it keeps being put off is the first step to success.
What am I selling/offering right now?
This is a great question to consider when revenue is a primary concern, and when isn’t increasing your revenue important? By zeroing in on exactly where the revenue needs to be coming from in your business, you can address what may remain incomplete.
If you’re launching, you may have an extensive task list. Or maybe you’re just doing some living room strategy reach out. Regardless of the complexity of the tasks, understanding what’s standing in the way of you and revenue is key. So often anxiety in business comes from lower than required revenues, so by addressing what’s holding you back when it comes to sales, you can take huge steps to change your financial trajectory.
Is there anything on my calendar that I need to change, delegate, or delete?
How often do you look at your calendar for the week and realize there are appointments on it that you’re dreading!? This happens to all of us from time to time, but if you’re routinely dreading facing your week, it might be because there are things on your calendar that just aren’t working.
Do you need to change appointments to occur at different times in your day or week to better align with your energy? Or maybe you have things on your calendar that can be reassigned or delegated to someone else? This is an awesome opportunity to revisit the types of support you have inside your business (and in your life!).
Finally, maybe it’s actually time to delete some things from your calendar that are no longer making you money or serving your larger business goals. While deleting things isn’t always easy, choosing to continue doing things that don’t work for you anymore is actually far more detrimental.
When you look at your calendar at the end of every week, note what worked really well for you. What brought you joy? Where did your revenue come from? Did you make any changes throughout the week that really improved things? You can also note what you’re looking forward to in the week to come.
By getting really clear on how you spend your time each week, you can make sure that every minute of your time is being well spent.
What loose ends need to be tied together?
This is another great question for the end of the week, but it can also help to ask this question in conjunction with what’s bothering you. Open loops can be a huge source of anxiety in business. (Open loops is a term I use to denote unfinished anything, and is often the case when you need more information to make a decision.)
Making note of open loops often results in simple steps being added to your to-do list that, once taken, will allow entire projects to move forward.
If you’re often finding yourself with lots of open loops, this might be a place to look for a project management tool like Trello (link) or Asana (link) to help you keep things moving forward efficiently.
What needs to go on my teams to do list?
If you have any aspect of support in your business (or life), this might be a lifesaver kind of question. So often we have people around us who are able and willing to help, but we don’t ask for it!
Typically, it’s not because we don’t want support, but rather it’s because:
- We don’t know what to ask for because we aren’t clear on what must be done — OR–
- We think it will take more time to ask for the help than to just complete the task ourselves.
The questions you’re asking throughout your planning can easily help to address #1, but #2 is a much trickier question. This often involves a significant mindset shift. (WHEN I HAVE SUPPORT POSTS ON HIRING, CROSS-LINK HERE)
Now, what do I actually need to do this week?
Okay, so now, come back to the question. I’d be willing to bet that your to-do list got a lot shorter, and if not shorter, it’s a lot clearer. When you have action steps organized and streamlined, you’re able to quickly take action during your week in the small pockets of time you’d normally waste.
Alternatively, you may find that you want to restructure your week significantly so that the core projects that you care about most start to get done.
Remember that this isn’t a science, but rather a weekly process in tweaking and adapting to the ever changing life cycle in business, but by asking clarifying questions like this more frequently, you should begin to see an untick in your productivity and your revenue.
What are some of your favorite tools or techniques for planning and setting priorities in your business?