Time is a limited resource. Everyone of us living in this world gets only 24 hours- nothing more, nothing less. Despite this grim fact, you can also view it as an equalizer. Silicon Valley hotshots, scientists, teachers, and workers in all sorts of fields all receive 24 hours. You might not have the same skill-set and knowledge as them, but you do have the same amount of time with which to work, entertain, and improve yourself.
What you do with your time is entirely up to you. Your success is dependent on how you use- or squander- each and every second of your day.
For entrepreneurs, time is even more precious. Employees are guaranteed a wage for every hour that they spend in the office, regardless of whether they have done any work or not. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, enjoy the flexibility of time, yet they have to put in the effort to make every second as financially productive as possible. Time wasted = money lost.
But entrepreneur time management doesn’t always have to be so complicated or scary. Here are eight insightful time management tips to get you started.
1 – Plan The Night Before
If you love deadlines, then planning is practically second nature for you. But for those who prefer to do the planning process at the last minute, then you might have a hard time dealing with unexpected distractions and events as they come.
This is the reason why you shouldn’t list your goals and personal deadlines on the day that you’re supposed to be doing them. Do your to-do lists the night or the day before. Let it brew for sometime. This gives you a picture of how your day will be spent, and you can make changes as needed so that you can fully maximize your schedule.
2 – Pick Three Things
Here’s the truth about to-do lists and productivity: you can’t do everything. You might have grand plans for the day and have filled your schedule and lists with some of the productive stuff that you plan on doing, but there is a huge chance there will remain a few (or a lot!) of items that you weren’t able to finish. This gives you a crippling sense of unfulfillment. Like you weren’t really “productive” that day, or that there’s something wrong with your system.
Remember: the more stuff that you plan, the more that you will be overwhelmed. Learn to prioritize. List down three things that you MUST absolutely work on for a particular day, and do them first. Focus your energies on these three things, before you move on to your secondary tasks. Even if you have tasks left on your list, you can rest easy knowing that your three main agendas for the day has been dealt and done with.
3 – Be Intentional About Blocking Distractions
The Internet is full of time-sucking distractions. And since entrepreneurs are only human, it’s easy to get yourself sucked into the Internet wormhole of procrastination, letting the hours waste away while you look at cat videos and memes.
Of course, disconnecting your computer isn’t always the ideal solution for this problem.
A great alternative is to block those distracting websites themselves. You can use software or browser extensions for this purpose. For example, some of the popular site-blocking extensions for Google Chrome include StayFocusd, Block site, and Strict Workflow.
4 – Schedule Your Breaks
This might seem to go against what we’ve mentioned above, but it still makes sense, productivity-wise. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” as the popular saying goes. Humans are not robots that can work hours on end without rest. Make sure that you have regular scheduled breaks wherein your mind can take a breather from work.
5- Start Timeboxing with Pomodoros… What?
The concept behind timeboxing is simple: work activities are done within “timeboxes”- fixed periods of time that are each solely allocated to one activity alone. No multitasking, no distractions, no interruptions.
While there are lots of project management systems out there that utilize timeboxing, we’ll take a look at one of the simplest ones out there- the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s to help him focus on his coursework. The method goes like this: work time is broken down into “pomodoros” or 25-minute time periods, each followed by a five minute break. After four pomodoros, a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes can be taken.
This method works best for people with short attention spans. Almost anyone can work and focus intensely in 25 minutes, and the small breaks at the end of each time period prevents burnout.
6 – Track Your Time With These Software Tools
Entrepreneurs need to have an accurate picture of how they spend their time during the day. Think of it as analytics for productivity. You need see where the problem areas so that you will know how to improve yourself. Software like DeskTime and TimeCamp allows people to track their computer activities during work hours. This is especially helpful if you want to see the kind of tasks that you spend the most time on.
7 – Delegate ALL Your Less-Valuable Tasks
Delegating tasks is one of the main premises in the highly popular book “The 4 Hour Workweek.” If you think that you’ll be more financially-productive if you can delegate some of your tasks to other people, then do it. The time you saved can better be spent on things that you want to focus on.
8 – Are You A list checker or a deadliner?
There are a lot of time management systems out there, but most of them usually fall into two types: the list or the scheduled deadline. Depending on your preferences and the type of work that you do, you must determine whether you work well with checking off lists or constraining yourself to specified deadlines. For example, the Pomodoro Technique does not work well with people who are under strict deadlines and have no room for flexibility in their schedules.
The trick to being a successful entrepreneur isn’t having the best idea, and it’s not just working the hardest either. It’s about working the smartest, and making the best use of your time. If you’re not getting the results you want, use this list to start making some disciplined changes to your work regimen.
If you have any tips that I missed, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!