“Time is money” – A proverb we’ve all heard, and many of us casually use, but you don’t really understand how on point it is until you become an entrepreneur. Because then, time literally is money. Ingenuity, people skills, and marketing genius aren’t the only traits that define a successful entrepreneur; time management is just as (if not more) important than most other skills that an entrepreneur should possess.
Time management is synonymous with organizing their day for many people, but that’s a very limiting way of looking at it. Time management isn’t just about allocating an appropriate amount of time to each task that you have to do, but it’s also prioritizing and delegating tasks, getting rid of time-wasting habits, maintaining a work and personal life balance, etc.
Ironically, many entrepreneurs end up wasting a lot of time in managing their time. They obsess over planning and managing their daily activities and monthly calendars, or they won’t get anything done.
That’s a wrong and energy-draining way of managing your time. Instead of thinking of time management as one gargantuan task, consider it a set of constructive habits that you have to pick up, one by one, if that’s what works for you. This way, you’ll be able to manage your time effortlessly and almost unconsciously.
13 Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs
The first tip for entrepreneurs is that you don’t have to try and incorporate every single time- management tip you read on this list or any other list. If you try and do it all, you may not even get a little done. Follow just one (or a few) for a start. Try incorporating them into your daily routine before moving on to others.
1. Create a Schedule
There’s nothing better than facing your day head-on, meeting challenges one at a time, but that kind of energy only lasts for a few years, at most, and many entrepreneurs burn out way before that. You also don’t have to rely on your memory for all the tasks you need to accomplish.
Creating a schedule and following it can help you stay organized. You can also set reminders for important tasks. There are numerous apps and software to help you make and keep to a schedule or you can go old school and keep a pocket diary.
If checking your schedule before/after every task seems too much pressure, you can do so every one or two hours. Or once before starting your day, once after lunch, and at the end of the day to see how accurately you followed your own schedule.
2. Prioritize Important Tasks
Stephen Covey’s quote sums it up nicely: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” But figuring out your priorities can be tricky. One way to do it is to divide them into A, B, C, and D level priorities.
A – What you would do for your business if you had nothing else on your plate? The true growth-oriented tasks.
B – Your routine responsibilities (meeting with clients, staff meetings, important presentations, etc.)
C – Unique daily requirements that may come up unannounced, but you have to deal with them anyway.
D – Tasks that you can delete, delay, delegate, or drop.
It’s not a perfect system and doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a start. When you get in the habit of classifying tasks on their importance and prioritizing them accordingly, you can come up with your own “prioritization-filter.”
3. Practice the Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle is more about cause and effect: 80% of the effects stem from 20% of the causes. But it can be applied to time management as well. I like to think of it as the “potency” of a task. Many small and less time-consuming tasks may yield the bulk of the results. For example, instead of wasting eight hours micromanaging an internal event to perfection, you can reach out to ten new potential clients, which would only take a fraction of the time.
Identify which tasks are more potent and responsible for 80% of your business’s success and sustenance, and prioritize them.
4. Challenging vs. Easy
Some entrepreneurs prefer to tackle challenging tasks first thing in the morning. Others prefer to start with something easy, develop momentum, and then get through the day. Both mindsets are fine, but depending on your overall approach, both can be devastating for your time management.
If you like bulldozing enormous challenges first, but spend the bulk of the day doing that, and afterward, you don’t have enough energy to complete the remaining tasks, it’s not the right approach.
Similarly, if you delay a challenging task and do the easy ones first, hoping you won’t have enough time left in the end, and you’ll be justified in not following through the challenging task, it can also be detrimental. With proper scheduling and prioritizing, either strategy can help you accomplish your tasks more efficiently.
The entrepreneurial spirit of taking on more responsibility and doing everything yourself may result in early burnouts or extremely poor time management. One of the main reasons for hiring someone is that you share your responsibilities and delegate some of the tasks to them.
If you delegate efficiently, you will have more time to focus on growing your business and taking care of more important tasks. And it doesn’t have to be a total hand-off; you can still supervise and assist, but don’t micromanage and limit someone else’s ability to complete a task.
6. Two-Minute Rule
An interesting way to decide which task can or cannot be delayed is to give it two minutes before putting it off for a later time. For example, if you think you’ll shortlist resumes at the end of the day, start a timer and start working on it.
If, after two minutes, you still think you should delay it till the end of the day, do so. But the chances are that you will end up completing what you’ve started. This way, fewer items will get delayed.
7. To Multitask Or Not to Multitask
Many entrepreneurs feel that if they can learn to multitask, they might save a lot of time. But that’s a tough skill to develop and usually end up wasting more time than it saves. So if you are not inherently good at multitasking, it might be better if you focus on each task individually.
8. Automate As Much As You Can
Automating can be a powerful ally to an entrepreneur. Even if you aren’t really tech-savvy, there are several tasks you can easily automate to save yourself a lot of time. Repetitive emails, business reports, going through your books, and market research, etc., many of these and similar tasks can be automated to save you time. You can automate your routine payments to save you time.
9. Make Traditions, Break Traditions
As an entrepreneur, you will most likely have the power to establish new traditions and change existing ones. Make sure you strike the right balance between traditions that are important for morale and upholding your business values and time management.
If you hold weekly meetings, despite an open-door culture, just because it’s the corporate norm, you might simply be wasting your and your employee’s time.
10. Take Small Breaks
While taking a break and not doing anything seems counter to effectively utilizing your time, it’s imperative for productivity. Unless you are unnaturally focused on a task, or powering through a job and have a momentum built up, try and take a few small breaks intermittently.
You can follow the Pomodoro Technique: Work on something for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and then resume. Your focus should be to complete the task (or a sizeable part of it) within 25 minutes. The pressure will keep you working at peak efficiency, and a break would refresh you and increase productivity.
11. Leverage Technology
The pandemic has taught us many important lessons, like the fact that many meetings can be replaced by a single email, a chat group is just as adequate for bouncing off ideas as a brainstorming session is, and Zoom meetings save a lot of time (and transportation cost). Even when the pandemic is over, you can keep some work practices to help you save time.
12. Take Time Out for Yourself
This is something that most parents understand: You love your child to death, but sometimes, you resent the fact that you don’t get to be yourself because of your responsibilities. It’s the same with entrepreneurs, many of whom love their business/startup in the same way. But if you don’t want to end up hating the thing you loved so much, take time out for yourself.
13. Introspect About Your Procrastination Habit
People, who like putting off everything to a later time or date, usually don’t become entrepreneurs in the first place, but that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs don’t procrastinate at all. You should try and analyze what tasks you don’t like doing right away.
Maybe you love client meetings, but hate writing internal memos. You might prioritize finishing a report over taking your lunch. This introspection won’t just teach you new things about yourself and help you with your time management. You can delegate certain tasks instead of delaying them. Or you can breakdown take-consuming tasks into smaller pieces and do them one at a time.
You don’t have to pick up all these habits at once, but you also shouldn’t delay learning about and working on time management. As an entrepreneur, it’s challenging to find a proper work-life balance, but it’s almost impossible without proper time management. You can’t be optimally productive and might not succeed as an entrepreneur if you don’t focus on time management.
One of the best ways to free up your time is to outsource your bookkeeping chores. When you try to save money by doing your own bookkeeping or delegating it to an employee, you’re squandering valuable time and energy that is better used growing the business. When you outsource your bookkeeping, you’ll find more time doing what you do best and what you actually enjoy doing! Schedule a time to talk with me about how Bookkeeping21 can help you get back to what you love to do! Let’s Talk!