if not now whenBy: Joanna Guldin-Noll

These days, it seems like no one has time. We’re all busy, busy, busy. And that seems a little crazy, especially since we live in the most technologically driven era to date. All of the tech that, in theory, should make our lives easier and simpler has just made it all that much busier. As entrepreneurs, we left the 9-to-5 to break out own our own, which often means that we work the 5-to-5…or longer.

But we can free up time for ourselves so we can live more productive, fuller, and happier lives. It is possible.

Create a Routine
Every business owner needs a routine they can stick to and really own. If you don’t have a solid routine that works for you, think about creating one that takes into account your daily responsibilities and your personal needs.

Be Honest About Your Time
It’s easy to write a schedule or to-do list and cram way more on it than you can actually hope to accomplish. And that can leave you frustrated and anxious at the end of the day when you haven’t nearly finished what you thought you would. Estimate your projects and tasks reasonably and create a schedule that includes a little bit of wiggle room in case obstacles crop up during your day (because they inevitably will).
Create Boundaries
Work can consume your life (and ruin your productivity), so be sure to set enforceable boundaries that separate your home life and your work life. Without them, you’ll find yourself working all of the time and burning out quickly (not to mention spending way too much time on projects because, hey, you’ve got the time, right?).

Know When to Delegate
When your work is your baby, it’s difficult to entrust it to another person. But if you’re looking to be more efficient and manage your time better, you’ve got to know when to push some things off your plate…and onto someone else’s.

Know Yourself
How long can you focus before you need a break? Do you feel better when you exercise in the morning…or do you need a midday run to jolt you back and sharpen your sensibilities? Know what makes you tick and how you operate – and then work with those elements, not against them. Need a 20-minute break every two hours to refocus? Cool. Schedule it into your day and don’t feel badly about it.

Find the Right Apps for You
You probably use programs and apps already to help your business succeed. But are you using them to help you succeed as well? Programs like GoalTracker and 17hats can help you focus and save you serious time on menial tasks that would otherwise drain time from you.

Chat on the (Gasp!) Phone
Instead of emailing endless strings back and forth, jump on the phone and call. Of course you can’t do this to replace every email, but when it makes sense, do it. You’ll get to the point and be able to get on with your workday a lot faster.

Consolidate Your Tasks
Checking email (and social media) is necessary…and a time suck. Instead of checking every time you hear a ding or your phone vibrate, schedule time and do everything – both reading and responding. You’ll cut out needless time wasted going back and forth between projects and you’ll be able to really focus on each task, rather than always being half distracted.

Of course, this isn’t a complete list of ways to be more efficient, productive, and in charge of your time…but it is a start. Make sure that when you put your systems and processes in place you maximize them for efficiency and that you can follow through. You’ll be finishing your to-do list with time to spare in no time!