If a genie grants a newbie entrepreneur three wishes, the first wish would be ‘please let there be more than twenty-four hours in a day’. Don’t ask me what the other two wishes will be. Probably getting enough time to eat a decent meal and wishing they knew then what they know now. Which is - having more than twenty-four hours a day is not the solution (Now you know so don’t make that wish when you become an entrepreneur and meet a genie).
And how do I know?
Believe me, I know, and I’m going to tell you exactly what I know. Stay tuned.
Time has been a nemesis of entrepreneurs since the profession was invented. Entrepreneurs are a community that generates a visual of impeccable suits and ties, posh offices, and how-could-I-forget a Rolex watch. But unless they’ve got their time managing skills nailed, you can imagine them with hair beating the likes of Einstein.
It took me a lot of research to comb through the numerous skills and tips for managing time. After sufficiently bombarding myself with information, I have understood that time management for entrepreneurs is made up of three aspects
- How To Use Time
- How Not To Waste Time and
- How To Save Time
Let’s dive deeper.
How To Use Time
Creating A Long-Term Roadmap
Every business starts with a vision. And then it requires a path with a timeline. Planning the steps ahead of time will help you achieve your goals in time. And that puts you ahead of your competitors who are stuck at the ‘vision’ part.
Breaking Down The Problem Into Tasks
Starting a project can be a daunting task. What helps is dividing it into a bunch of smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish. That gives a certain clarity as to what stage you are at and what needs to be done.
When you are at the starting stage, everything seems important. Meeting with investors, marketing strategies, and a million other things. Prioritize, to stay sane, otherwise, nothing gets done. Better one finished job than a million half-finished ones. Here are the prioritization and delegation matrix to put things in perspective.
Now that you have your tasks and priorities in place, it’s time to schedule. Set a time and a time limit for all tasks. Take care to not cram your schedule to the last minute. And remember to have some white space to accommodate unexpected events, like an extended meeting.
This is the time allotted for ideation and problem-solving. This session must also be a part of your schedule. It is necessary to keep in touch with the creative side to keep from feeling frustrated by the mundane tasks. This is essential for optimizing how you operate the business.
Always Improve Strategy
Working smarter should be on the top of your mind. Improvisation is key. Seek inspiration from business people and their business strategies. Constantly evaluate and experiment with your plan to make it better. Don’t settle for mediocre results. Utilize the multitude of business software available to enhance strategy.
Reconnect With Your Why
There must be something that drove you to start your business. A passion for the work you do or the products you build. When the nights are long and you end up forgetting to eat one too many times, remind yourself of your mission statement to keep you going.
Remember when we discussed prioritizing? Known as the Pareto principle, the rule states “Twenty percent of the time expended on important tasks must give eighty percent of the results.” Do not spend your energetic hours on menial or trivial tasks just to check them on a to-do list.
How Not To Waste Time
Scheduling gives an idea of what your day looks like. But nothing accounts for minute time wasters like extended meetings or spending too much time on menial tasks. A time audit is a continuous evaluation of your working minutes that helps you track and eradicate those time wasters.
It is easy to get deviated from your ultimate aim. A little reality check from time to time sets you straight. Otherwise, you would be juggling a slew of tasks that might be completely irrelevant or unimportant (or both). And that is a waste of your limited time.
Remind Yourself Of the Consequences
An oldie but a goodie. Remember when our teachers threatened us with punishments? Now the time has come to threaten yourself- with failure. Beat procrastination. Don’t dream and put it off. Chase it. Better to face failure than regret trying.
Avoid Messy Spaces
Your mind is only as organized as your workplace. Make it a point to have an organized “everything”- your schedule, your work, even your wardrobe. Routine breeds efficiency. It also clears the mind for important tasks. Do not waste time on tasks that do not contribute to your goal.
Don’t Fix Things That Are Not Broken
I know I advised improving your strategy but that doesn’t apply beyond a point. Some methods are already at their optimum efficiency so fiddling with them is a waste of time.
How To Save Time
Only What You Need
This strategy is a way of describing how the entrepreneur needs to absorb only the information necessary for the next immediate task. This leaves the brain singularly focused on the task at hand without worrying about anything else. Multi-handling may work but multitasking does not.
This is business-speak for meditation. Managing your mind is the art of keeping your goal in the foreground, the activities, and their implementation mid-ground and have a constant evaluation running in the background (of your mind). This always keeps things in perspective.
Technology As A Time Saver
This is the digital age! There is a horde of time tracker apps, productivity apps, software tools to track your progress, business tools, and so on. Use them! You need to make use of every advantage you get. And technology is a blessing for entrepreneurs if used right.
You think someone in your office is better qualified to do a task? That he/she can do it in half the time or with half the effort? Delegate! No shame in admitting someone else can do it better. In fact, the best of entrepreneurs hire smarter individuals because he/she needs them to fulfill his/her vision.
If certain tasks display certain patterns, then automate. Replace routines with technology. If someone books a ticket, send an automated confirmation message and NOT a personally typed thank you letter.
Some firms specialize in certain aspects of entrepreneurship such as advertising or accounting. If any such activities are more than you can handle, outsource. Yes, it costs you but it may be a good investment in the long run. Outsourcing leaves you free to focus on the core of your business.
Attach Anticipated Results
Know what to expect from a certain event. The work is half-done when you know the result. Have a meeting? Write down its purpose and the goal to be achieved. Meeting an investor? Repeat to yourself- convince and snag the money. Having a clear goal for every action you take will get you a greater sense of clarity.
Always beware of the time thieves. They do their job so well because they have your full cooperation. Don’t lose time to anything that does not push you closer to your vision. But all the same, put aside a little ‘me’ time to reflect on the progress made and treat yourself. That break will help you resume your pursuit of dreams with renewed vigor.