Time Management Basics for Entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur, you get constantly bombarded with things to do, people to meet, places to go, things to experience, meetings to attend or run, things to learn, etc. And with so much to do all the time, it’s no wonder that the average entrepreneur works between 40 and 60 hours a week. And it’s also no wonder that entrepreneurs often burn out.
To avoid burnout and keep your stakeholders and followers happy on an ongoing basis, as well as your friends and family, it’s imperative that you learn to manage your time wisely as an entrepreneur. Below are some time management basics and some things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to remain happy and successful as an entrepreneur.
Build a Comprehensive and Central Online Platform
You can build a website so that it’s much more than a tool for online content marketing and self-promotion. You can also use your website as a central platform to stay organized with your time. On your website, include a appointment request or scheduling tool, where people can go to send you meeting requests and to put time on your calendar. This way, you won’t have to send multiple emails back and forth with multiple people deciding on times and places to meet that are convenient for all parties. Two helpful tools to use for this are Calendly and YouCanBook.me. You can also have people fill out important forms and view information that will be helpful in expediting the meeting.
Choose the Right Tools and Apps, But Use Them Wisely
There are a lot of time management tools and apps available nowadays. But make sure you do your research first and select the tools that are right for you specifically and what you do, and that they work well together via integrations. For example, Toggl is a popular time-tracking tool that integrates with the Trello project management platform, and both are ideal options for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
After you do your research and select the ideal tools and apps for you, be careful not to overdo it. Tools and apps can easily become more burdensome than useful if you have 10 of them open at one time that are all telling you redundant information in scattered ways. You should probably only select a handful of apps, or less, that you use on a weekly basis to help you keep track of your tasks and what you’re spending your time on. And make sure to set up notifications for the tools and apps appropriately so that they aren’t always buzzing in your ear and becoming overly distracting.
Only Use SMART Goals
All your goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) if they’re to be useful and attainable. You will find yourself wasting a lot of time and consistently feeling as if you’re all over the place and never accomplishing anything if you aren’t trying to reach your SMART goals. Read How to Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur for more details on how to create SMART goals and why it’s so critical to any entrepreneur’s success.
Rely on a Priority Management System
To stay focused, implement a priority management system that works for you. Believe it or not, you can only do one thing at a time, so make sure you’re always only focusing on what your number one priority is at that given moment, even if that priority involves having some fun or sleeping. And don’t fall prey to feeling as if you need to respond to everything and everyone right away. Because if it’s not a top priority, then you don’t need to do anything right away. Regardless of what type of system you rely on, you should always prioritize work according to what tasks must get done, tasks you should do, tasks you could do, tasks you delegate, and tasks you never do.
And if you don’t have enough time to get a lot of your low-priority tasks done, then you should consider hiring an assistant or contractor to help you with your load of tasks. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks or find others who you can trust to get things done. You’ll never be able to do everything on your own, nor should you want to as an entrepreneur.
Prepare for Your Following Day the Prior Evening
Don’t wake up each morning reacting to everyone else’s emails, concerns, and agendas before you even begin your day and get to your own set of priorities and tasks. This could cause you to lose a lot of time and will demotivate you and burn you out quickly. It could potentially throw you off course for days. Instead, prepare for each day the previous evening by getting together your to-do list and you list of top priorities that you want to tackle as soon as you’re ready to start working the next day. And don’t respond to emails or do anything else until you’ve tackled at least two or three things on that list, depending on what types of tasks they are and the amount of time they require to complete.
Start Each Morning the Right Way
Exercising or meditating and eating breakfast each morning will set you up for success and will keep you on course for the day and will allow you to manage your time well. Again, it can’t be emphasized enough, that you shouldn’t wake up and simply react to what’s being thrown at you each day. Instead, start each day deliberately, with a positive attitude and approach, and make sure that you are energized and ready to be proactive. And when you sit down to work each morning, focus on tackling the top priorities on the list you wrote the evening before first before doing anything else.
Take Frequent Breaks and Recharge Often
It may seem counter-intuitive to take more breaks to better manage your time, but breaks are critical to successful time management and productivity. You won’t be able to be as effective and finish projects quickly if you’re constantly running on fumes because you’ll end up working on projects for longer spans of time if you don’t take frequent breaks.
Set Aside Chunks of Time for Emails and Phone Calls
If you want to manage your time well, don’t keep your email inbox open while you’re working because it will tempt you to immediately respond to any new emails that pop up. All you’ll likely end up responding to others’ priorities throughout the day instead of your own. Instead, dedicate chunks of time each day to read and respond to emails. And the same goes for phone calls. Let calls go to voicemail and leave your ringer on silent, and then pick chunks of time to respond to calls and voicemails. If a call is really that important to have, people will typically schedule time on your calendar to touch base with you in advance and will make the time to talk to you at the pre-arranged time.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
If something isn’t a priority for you and people aren’t being respectful of your time or what you have to offer, don’t be afraid to say no to them. If something won’t fit into your schedule and it isn’t a top priority for you, then say no or be willing to push things to a much later date. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself overcommitting to a lot of different things that you don’t care about or enjoy and that don’t do anything for your current business goals or objectives.
Audit Your Time on a Rolling Basis and Adjust Accordingly
Be sure to look at your tracked time once a week or month to see what you’re wasting your time on, what you’re spending most of your time on, etc. This way, you’ll know how to better prioritize your tasks and calendar moving forward, and you’ll know when you need to make necessary adjustments and for what tasks.
As an entrepreneur, you probably love being busy. But if you want your time to produce amazing results on a consistent basis, then follow the tips above and manage your time wisely.