The Busy Entrepreneur’s Guide to
Effective Time Management
When you plan to be an entrepreneur, a lot of your personal and professional abilities are going to be put to the test. Your job description involves responsibilities that require a set of leadership traits and attributes, from scheduling meetings to preparing project budgets, strategizing, monitoring staff performance, networking, and guaranteeing effective work delivery.
Out of all these traits and skills that an entrepreneur must have under their toolbelt, there is one that should undoubtedly be put at the top of the list – time management.
Time is the most important resource an entrepreneur has, yet it is something that we frequently overlook. This is why many entrepreneurs and executives have had significant company crises as a result of one key factor: they did not spend their and their team’s time in a productive way.
Unfortunately, we can’t get more than 24 hours in a day, so we are left with figuring out a way to make the most out of these hours. To help you out, we have put together this short time management guide specifically tailored for entrepreneurs. Continue reading to find out how to make the most out of your and your team’s working hours in a way that helps your business grow.
1. Stop staring at the clock
While it may sound unconventional, the number one thing you can do when you try to improve your time management skills is to stop stressing over what time it is. Thinking too much about how many hours you have left in a day to do a specific number of tasks will only make you more stressed and can end up becoming a distraction, which you definitely don’t need.
What you need to do is focus on your list of tasks, which we will explain how to prioritize in a bit, and try to stick to your initial plan to the best of your abilities. If you learn how to organize your to-do list in a practical way, even if there are tasks left at the end of the day, they will likely not be urgent, and you can stop stressing about doing everything in a single workday.
2. Make a list and prioritize
If there is a long list of tasks waiting for you every day, chances are you are going to wake up and go to sleep (if you can fall asleep at all, that is) feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Even if these tasks are not urgent, knowing you have to keep pushing them forward to the next day is not a pleasant thought and will make you feel as if you were not able to accomplish anything today.
Instead of keeping a long to-do list that you struggle to tackle every day, consider switching to smaller daily tasks lists. In the world of entrepreneurship, there is a time management technique called the Ivy Lee Method, which focuses on prioritizing six tasks every day. Here’s how it works:
- Every evening, make a list of 6 tasks that must be accomplished the next day
- Prioritize these six tasks in order of urgency and importance
- The next day, start with the first and most important task and focus all your attention to it
- Only move on to the next task once the first one is finished (sure, if you are awaiting an email response to finish the task, it’s safe to assume you can do other things until it gets into your inbox)
- Rinse and repeat every day, observing how it influences your productivity levels
This technique is very easy, which is why it works so well. If you are a busy person, it may seem like six tasks are too few to call it a productive day, but this method teaches you how to prioritize and how to not bite off more than you can chew.
3. Learn how to delegate tasks effectively
A good leader is not one that takes on as much work as they can, but one that knows which of these tasks require their attention and which can be handed over to someone else. You may think you can do everything by yourself and, to some extent, you may even manage to do so, but it will be at the cost of your own mental health or business wellbeing.
Instead of taking everything upon yourself, learn to accept that you need assistance from time to time. It is natural and does not mean you are not capable, but rather that you are a smart person that understands things need to be done with utmost attention in order to give a productive result.
Figure out which tasks can be delegated to your team and hand those over when necessary. If you feel there are too many tedious everyday tasks that take up your time, such as schedule management, responding to emails or other digital tasks, you can consider hiring a virtual PA. Virtual PAs can handle almost all tasks that a traditional personal assistant can, but they work remote. This is often more cost-effective and allows you to focus on the aspects that truly matter for your business.
4. Only run meetings that can’t be turned into emails
We understand meetings represent an important part of any organization, but these sessions can easily end up wasting both your time and your team’s. As we got to learn more about productivity and how to be more efficient, experts quickly came to the realization that, in many cases, spending so much time in meetings won’t really contribute to streamlined business processes. This is why many forward-thinking companies have managed to reduce meetings to a minimum and use digital communication methods to make announcements and share information with their team.
Meetings do have their purpose and should not be cut off entirely, but if you value your employees’ time and want them to be as productive as possible, make sure you only call a meeting when it is absolutely necessary.