“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time” – Steve Jobs. If there’s one thing most entrepreneurs and startup founders could have, it would be more time in their day. The commodity that is most valuable, that we want most is what we use worst. Most people believe that if they had more hours, they would be more productive, but fail to realize that a better way would be to get more done during the available hours. Everyone – entrepreneur or not – has to make sure they obey proper principles of time management and revise them from time to time to make sure they make optimum use of the limited time we all have. Entrepreneurs, more importantly need proper time management skills to prepare them for the unforeseen obstacles they face almost daily. These tips are some of the most important ways entrepreneurs can manage their time and get more done with each day.
- Plan your day beforehand: This is probably the best way to make your time count for the most. Planning and – more importantly – following through is the singular most effective way to get more important things done within any period of time. One way of achieving this is to take the time to create a detailed to-do list for the next day before you leave the office after work. Assign blocks of time for working on specific tasks and activities on your list. The next morning, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Again, a plan is only any good when it’s followed so be sure to follow through with your plans or you might as well not have made them.
- Do not procrastinate: Procrastination is a slow killer of ambitions that comes in a variety of forms. You could keep putting off what you’re supposed to do till it’s too late or could keep putting off when to start because you didn’t plan on where to start – If you don’t know where to start, you couldn’t possibly start, right? Another way to procrastinate is by spending time on the unimportant things while putting off the most vital tasks for later. Regardless of whatever form procrastination takes, it should be tackled head-on with immediate action. Never put off until later what can be done now and always do the most important things first. If you can beat procrastination, you’re on the way to practicing the best time management.
- Prepare for the unexpected: Probably just as important as planning for events you know are coming is planning for situations you don’t expect. You know unexpected situations will come up, events that will require your time to sort out. BDC Business Consultant Rony Israel advises reserving one hour in the morning and another in the afternoon for handling these events. But to make it work, you have to resist the temptation to drop everything to deal with emergencies and wait until the time you’ve set aside to attack them.
- Eliminate distractions: While it’s important to pull yourself away from work every now and then, breaks are one thing, but distractions are another. Breaks are focused and deliberate while distractions catch you off guard and derail your task entirely. One study shows it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you’ve been interrupted. Mobile phones and work emails are the usual culprits, but distractions could also take several forms – from a coworker who needs constant hand-holding to get through even basic tasks to the boss who won’t let you finish one task before bringing up another marked “urgent”. For proper time management, reserve a couple of minutes each hour for handling email and phone calls and talk to coworkers and bosses about distractions and scheduling of tasks.
- See deadlines as a challenge: when you set deadlines, they should be your motivation to do what it takes to beat them(as long as the deadlines are realistic). Too many entrepreneurs hate deadlines because they see them as something negative, something that puts undue pressure on them and affects the quality of their results, but the truth is that we know just how well we can perform when we work under limiting conditions or have a deadline hanging over our heads. Take advantage of strategies like delegating tasks, leveraging technologies and outsourcing talent when it’s needed to help you achieve better time management.