Time management is one of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs — and, if we're being honest, by just about everyone else as well. We approach the day with big goals and well-thought-out plans to achieve them, only to find that the day has slipped away and we fell far short. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
But we keep striving to find a time management plan that works because we understand that it’s one of the keys to entrepreneurship. Time is precious when you’re trying to get a business off the ground, so you must treat it as the valuable and limited commodity that it is.
If you’re struggling with time management, rest assured you’re not alone. Even some of the most successful individuals in the world are constantly trying to improve how they manage time. It’s a never-ending struggle.
Here are 10 time-tested tips to help you get the most out of your day.
The 10 best strategies for managing your time while running your business:
- Get up early
- Use technology
- Delegate tasks
- Automate processes
- Focus on high-value tasks
- Use time blocking
- Isolate yourself
- Eat right
- Get your rest
- Be flexible
1. Get up early
One deceptively simple method of time management is to simply have more time available by getting up early. Rising early in the morning and having a routine to wake yourself and get started with your day is an excellent way to juice your creative workflow. High performers tend to be early risers, as they’re excited to start working on the tasks that will bring them closer to their ultimate goal.
If you’re up earlier, you tend to be more clear-headed and less groggy, allowing you to focus more on your tasks. There are fewer distractions from other people as well.
2. Use technology
There are many technological advances and tools that will help you with time management, so why not use them? An online calendar planner can help you manage your workload. Mobile devices and the apps on them can streamline your workflows and make you more efficient.
Applications will help you track your time so you can see where it is going and make adjustments. Project management software helps you organize tasks and achieve your goals. However, too much technology can be more of a distraction than a help, so be careful not to overdo it.
3. Delegate tasks
When you work for yourself, the tendency is to try to do everything on your own. But delegating authority to others is key to growing your business. If you have employees, start entrusting them with many of the tasks that eat up your day. If you don’t have employees, consider hiring a virtual assistant to take those tasks off your plate.
Remember: Your time is probably far more important than those tasks that are sucking up your day. Find a way to have others do them so you can focus on the more important work.
4. Automate processes
Are you manually performing tasks that could be automated? Repetitive tasks have a tendency to dominate our time if we let them, so explore software and applications that can automatically handle labor-intensive tasks, such as posting to social media, sending customers e-newsletters and other marketing materials, or compiling and crunching data for reports.
5. Focus on high-value tasks
The Pareto principle, often known as the 80/20 rule, has made a bigger impact on my efficiency than perhaps anything else. The rule stipulates that 20% of your activities result in 80% of the outcome.
As a result, rather than wasting your time on the other 80% of activities, identify the 20% that is really driving your business and limit the time you spend on the rest. It will both increase your productivity and reduce the amount of time spent on the business, which means you can focus on more important things.
6. Use time blocking
The entrepreneur’s daily planner is often a chaotic whirlwind of tasks that will have you bouncing between activities throughout the day. Instead, utilize time blocking, which allows you to focus blocks of time on one particular activity so you can maximize your productivity and reduce distractions. This method will reduce your stress while also helping you get more done — and the quality of work will be better, too.
7. Know when to isolate yourself
People are great, but they can be a poison to your productivity when you need to put your head down and get stuff done. Sometimes, you must isolate yourself and shut out the world.
That means turning off your phone, closing the door to your office (with a sign warning would-be intruders away), and putting on some noise-canceling headphones. This will provide you with the space to see your priorities better and boost your productivity for that block of time.
8. Eat right
Your brain is part of your body, so you must treat your body well in order to ensure your brain is operating at peak efficiency. Introducing good nutrition into your diet will cause you to feel better and be more clear-minded. Avoid excessive caffeine consumption, which may help you feel alert but can also make it difficult to focus. However, be sure to discuss a nutrition plan with your doctor before making drastic changes to your diet.
9. Get your rest
Rest is another important part of taking care of your body and consequently your brain. Without a proper night’s sleep, you won’t be able to think clearly in the morning, and focusing on tasks will become next to impossible no matter how much coffee you drink.
Studies show that your brain is working on problems even while you sleep, so in a way, you’re getting work done by giving yourself rest. Remember, the purpose is not to maximize the amount of time you have to work, but to maximize the quality of the time.
10. Be flexible
It’s tough to settle on a routine that works. Trust me, I’ve tried and failed to implement many routines. Time management is difficult, even for the most seasoned entrepreneurs. The best way forward is to implement a routine that seems good and see if it works for you. If it doesn't, that’s okay. Be flexible and make adjustments until you settle on something that works for you.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Get ideas from people you trust and track your time to see how different approaches affect your productivity.
Create a new routine
Routines are important because they establish a fundamental framework for how each day is spent, making them more predictable and therefore easier to manage. If you’re frustrated with your current routine, or lack thereof, come up with a new entrepreneur daily schedule that reflects your priorities.
Perhaps waking up at 6 a.m. and having a boiled egg and a cup of coffee gets you ready to start the day. Maybe getting up at 6:30 a.m. to plan your time management for the day over a glass of OJ and a piece of toast before going on a 20-minute jog is how you get the creative juices flowing.
Whatever the case may be, you must find your magic formula for accomplishing entrepreneur tasks in a timely manner day in and day out. By mastering your routine, you will be one step closer to become an expert at time management planning.