Managing time well is important for everyone, but it is absolutely crucial for entrepreneurs.
Individuals creating a new business are typically faced with numerous daily challenges and they are ultimately responsible for dealing with all of them.
It may seem that there just aren’t enough hours in a day for one individual to deal with every aspect of building a business.
However, there is enough time each day if you manage your time well and allocate the right amount of time to each task.
So, how do successful entrepreneurs manage their time?
Here are ten of the best tips I’ve heard to date.
1. Have a plan
Before you even look at how you’re going to manage your time, you need to be clear on your goals and how to get there, otherwise much of your time will be spent carrying out tasks will no particular end in mind.
Make sure you have a crystal clear vision and a solid plan of action that you can review regularly and make adjustments where necessary.
Things will rarely actually go to plan, but having one will enable you to remain focused on what you are doing and will help give you the impetus to perform the daily tasks necessary to reach your goal.
2. Prioritize your task list
If you’re building a business, you’re going to have a large and probably ever-growing list of things that need to get done.
Having a To-Do list is a crucial element required to manage your time well, but you need to make sure that you are writing it properly.
Check out this post: How To Write A To-Do List – Properly! >>>
Once your thoughts are out of your head and on paper (or digital format – I discuss the pros and cons of both in this post) you then need to prioritize your list to ensure that you are taking care of the high-value tasks first and not wasting too much time on the unimportant stuff.
Typically, the small stuff that provides very little in return is what people tend to get caught up in and as an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to waste your time on the inconsequential things.
You’ve got to be ruthless with this.
A great way to organize your list is to use something called the Eisenhower Box method. I discuss exactly how to use it in this post: “What Is The Eisenhower Box?”
3. Break it down
Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to take big, complex tasks and break them into bite-sized chunks that can be attacked one at a time.
And it is crucial to focus on one task at a time.
While building your own business requires you to be multi-skilled, multi-tasking is not the way to get things done.
Check out this post: Is Multi-tasking An Effective Way To Work? >>>
Always focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time before moving to the next.
4. Schedule and batch tasks
Scheduling your tasks is one of the cornerstones of good time management. If you don’t control your time by scheduling it, someone else will end up controlling it for you and that is something an entrepreneur cannot afford to let happen.
Check out this post: How To Create A Schedule >>>
But scheduling time to do stuff is only half the battle.
Entrepreneurs need to make sure their time is being allocated correctly and that they are not jumping around from one task to another.
Batching tasks together is dedicated blocks of time can be really helpful. This is when you schedule the same type of task together so that your attention isn’t constantly switching from one thing to another.
Check out this post: How To Use Time Blocking >>>
5. Schedule downtime
There is a common belief that if you’re an entrepreneur, you need to be working twenty hours a day, seven days a week.
Sure, there are going to be times when you need to put int he hours, but if you work incessantly without sufficient breaks, you’re going to burn out sooner, rather than later.
Make sure you schedule downtime for relaxing, exercising, getting a massage, spending time with friends and family – whatever you like to do.
And make sure this time is dedicated to those purposes.
In other words, don’t answer emails or take business calls during that time.
Spending time on activities other than work is important for mental and physical health and will help you to recharge, making yourself more effective when you get back into it.
Check out this post: Why You Should Schedule Your Free Time >>>
Delegating low-value but time-consuming tasks will allow the entrepreneur to focus her time and attention on the important, high-value stuff that will drive the business.
Many new businesses may not yet have sufficient capital to start employing full-time assistants to help you with this stuff, but there are cheaper alternatives, such as using a virtual assistant.
Tim Ferriss talks a lot about this in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek.
Using virtual assistants based in places like India to take care of most of his administrative tasks proved to be an extremely cost-effective way to free up his time to concentrate his attention on the activities that developed his business and generated more income.
If you are not familiar with the book, you can check out my review here.
While taking action and making things happen is crucial for the entrepreneur, she should also take time to stop everything to think.
Schedule time for critical thinking and brainstorming new ideas for your business, but you need to be smart about this. Don’t spend too much of your time just thinking and when you do, don’t do it during your peak working hours.
Actually, the is research that suggests your most creative work can be done when you’re feeling tired. So, get the priority and “deep work” tasks out of the way first and then allocate yourself some time for thinking through problems and cultivating new ideas.
Billionaire investor, Warren Buffett, spends much of his time thinking and reading and says it is one of the most important things he does for his business.
Obviously, new entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of reading and thinking for hours at a time each day because they need to get on with the hands-on tasks required to develop their business, but the fact Buffett prioritizes time for this highlights its potential importance for an entrepreneur.
8. Don’t put things off
We all have days when we don’t feel like getting stuck into the mountain of stuff that lies ahead of us, but as an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to procrastinate.
If you don’t get it done, it probably won’t get done, so you need to make it happen – today. Or least be taking actions each day that moves you closer to your goal.
You’ve got a couple of ways you can attack things if you feel you are procrastinating on something.
Firstly, you can try the “frog-eating” method, which was popularized by self-development author and motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, and encourages you to tackle your most difficult task of the day first. You can read more about it here.
Secondly, you can approach it the opposite way and start with something simple.
Sometimes just the act of crossing something off your list is enough to get your momentum going, back into “hustle mode” and ready to attack your more complex tasks.
Check out this post: How To Stop Procrastinating >>>
9. Learn to focus
Managing time efficiently should be a priority for entrepreneurs, but unless you can use the time you have allocated effectively, your scheduling ability becomes pointless.
Some tasks don’t require a great deal of concentration, but there will be certain tasks that demand your full focus and attention, so you need to be able to do that.
This involves both setting up the right environment and practise.
Focusing your attention for extended periods of time is not easy, but it is a skill that can be developed with repetition.
Reducing time spent using tools that distract attention will also help your brain to focus better when you need it too.
There is much written about this in Deep Work by Cal Newport, which I have reviewed in this post.
Check out this post: How To Focus At Work And While Studying >>>
10. Say ‘No’
The ability to say ‘no’ is a useful skill for the entrepreneur. When you say ‘yes’ to appointments and tasks from other people, you are required to invest your time and attention to these things. If they do not help move you towards your goals, you should be responding with a hard ‘no’ to these requests.
Currently, I am living by the rule that if I don’t feel something is a 100% ‘yes’ for me, then it’s a definite ‘No’.
Time is valuable for everyone and possibly even more so for an entrepreneur.
Check out this post: How To Say ‘No’ >>>
Time Hack Hero Takeaway
Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people that are willing to risk it all in pursuing their dreams and visions.
Building a new business is stressful and challenging and unless you have the ability to manage your time efficiently, you’re likely to fail.
So good time management is crucial for entrepreneurs.
Putting these ten tips into action will make the business of controlling and allocating your time much easier and will help you to focus on the activities that matter when it comes to succeeding with your business.
[Featured image credit: pxhere]