There are only so many hours in the day and for the busy entrepreneur managing those hours often feels like a daunting task. Many founders I talk to feel uncertain about what to prioritize, overwhelmed by the lack of structure in their lives and unsure how to make the most of each day. The truth is time management is a skill and one that most of us are never taught. So when diving into the world of entrepreneurship, it’s easy to feel like time gets away from you.
Why You Need Time Management
Entrepreneurs are responsible for every aspect of their business. Which means they wear a lot of hats and manage a variety of tasks on a daily basis. Without time management, you’ll like end up with the following:
- Feeling paralyzed and doing nothing
- Feeling scattered and constantly starting tasks, but often never finishing them
- Feeling overwhelmed, mentally spinning, and picking only the easiest tasks to complete or ignoring priorities
- Feeling stuck and your business not growing because you aren’t making time for the tasks that move you forward
- Feeling busy, but not making progress on goals
Improving your time management will allow you to get more done, reach your goals and create a thriving business.
“An entrepreneur must understand which tasks should come first, how much time to allocate to each task, and how and what to delegate to others in the business to efficiently move it forward.”Forbes.com
Improve Your Time Management Skills
There are numerous time management methods and productivity hacks, but today I want to focus on a few tried and true strategies.
First things first, you need to understand how and where you are currently spending your time. To do this you will need to do a time log for at least one week, ideally two. Essentially, you’ll grab a notebook and track what you’re doing every 30 minutes (yes everything). Think of this like a checkbook for your time.
This assessment tool will allow you to see what you’re currently prioritizing. Remember where you spend your time and money, indicates what is important to you.
Once you’ve used a time log for a week, analyze the results. Create a document with categories and calculate how much time you spend in each one.
Time Log Category Breakdown Example:
Food (eating, prepping, etc) – 12 hours/week
Sleeping – 56 hours/week
Mindless phone time – 14 hours
Commuting – 7 hours
Emails – 10 hours
Focused work – 5 hours
Trim the fat
Now that you have a clear picture of where your time is going, you need to “trim the fat”. This might be altering some time sucking habits, delegating tasks that would be better done by others, eliminating unproductive meetings, etc. The idea is to find the ideal solution for how all your time is spent.
Remember this doesn’t mean get rid of rest, fun, etc. You need unstructured time to regroup, but be mindful of truly how much time you require for leisure.
Entrepreneurship is freeing, sometimes too much so. Which means you need to build structure into your days.
You might try designating certain days for certain tasks. Maybe Fridays are report day, Mondays are for marketing, etc. Figure out what works for you and give yourself some loose structure for the week.
Systemize and Automate
Creating systems, processes, automations allows you to streamline tasks, simplify your to-do list and get more done.
Here’s some examples of systems and automation:
- Using batch content creation and platforms like Later.com to schedule social media posts will dramatically reduce the amount of time needed for social media marketing.
- Leveraging email marketing software like Mailchimp allows you to create weekly or monthly newsletters instead of randomly sending out content.
- Investing time in creating spreadsheets for reports, will streamline your month-end reporting process.
Create a routine
Again freedom is great, but as the saying goes “with great freedom, comes great responsibility”. In the entrepreneur world this means owning your time and making it work for you. It all starts with creating a routine. From the time you wake up until when your head hits the pillow, map out your day. Of course, you will need to be flexible, but having a routine gives you structure, peace of mind and stability.
Invest in Priorities
It always feels good to check things off your list, but getting caught up in putting all your time into the easy tasks can keep you from investing time into your priorities. Yes, if something can be done quickly, say 5 minutes, get that done and then shift your attention to the big stuff.
You need focused, uninterrupted time in your week to get the truly important stuff that moves the needle done. If you don’t intentionally make time for this type of work (put it on your calendar as an appointment), it won’t get done. But without making time to invest in your priorities your business will stagnant.
Make a list
Some entrepreneurs can get stuff done without writing things down. But for the majority of business owners, using an old school to-do list is a game changer.
List making tips:
- Braindump all the things
- Categorize tasks
- Prioritize based on urgency and importance
More Time Tips
Need more ideas to boost your productivity and time management skills?
Here’s 3 awesome articles:
- Time Management for Entrepreneurs from Fool.com
- Why Entrepreneurs Should Prioritize Time Management Within Their Businesses from Forbes.com
- 15 Time Management Tips for Achieving your Goals from Entrepreneur.com
All of these things are easier said than done. It takes time, diligence and practice to improve your habits, boost productivity and become a more efficient entrepreneur. In fact, many entrepreneurs struggle especially in the beginning stages to know what to even prioritize. So if that’s you, you aren’t alone.
We can help you get unstuck and get the ball moving in the right direction. When you sit down with a business coach and lay out all the things you need to get done, we can help you prioritize, delegate and explore ways to streamline your work.