In the end, you as an entrepreneur will be judged not so much by your great ideas as by your ability to get things done. Time management is at the heart of this. And it’s not just how you manage your own time but the time of your team as well. It’s great then that these eight entrepreneurs took some of the time they must manage so carefully to give you some advice on managing yours.
Best Time Management Techniques
Stick to a Schedule
“The more you plan and schedule your time with purpose, the less time there is for outside forces to take over your schedule,” says Gary Shouldis, CEO at 3Bug Media. “Before I start a project, I like to make sure I have all of the resources needed to complete it so I can work without interruption once I start.
I think everyone is different when it comes to how long you can work on a project before needing a break. You need to understand what times of the day you are most productive and how long you can work before your productivity falls off. For me, my productivity starts to nosedive at about 2 p.m., so I make sure I get everything important done before that time and use the rest of the day for meetings, phone calls and other non-essential tasks. Once you understand this about yourself, you can start planning so you get the most done during your peak performance times.
I like to work in 1-hour chunks of time, with a 15-minute break in between. Mornings are the most productive for me so I plan my most important projects for the mornings. I can stay on this alternating schedule all day as long as the 15-minute breaks allow me to unwind and recharge before starting my next hour of work.”
Avoid That Email
“Responding to customers and colleagues promptly is an important facet of providing professional customer service,” says Pratik Dholakiya, founder of The 20 Media. “But I’m a strong believer that for owners and executives, immediate email or text responses are disruptive to daily productivity. Check your emails first thing in the morning to organize your day and priorities, and spot-check it throughout the day, but allow for thirty-minute breaks to focus on clearing your inbox or delegating action items to other team members.
Don’t let your email (or text messages) squander your time, and sabotage your productivity for the day.”
Take Fewer Meetings
“I typically will block off large amounts of time on my calendar so no one within my company can have a meeting with me if a certain task needs my attention,” says Andrew Gazdecki, CEO of Bizness Apps. “For example, if we’re working on a new feature or product, I block out 3-4 hours in a given day so I can stay 100 percent focused on this project or whatever other task it is. A simple tool like Google Calendar can be a life saver in terms of time management!”
Break Yourself in Half
“I find my tasks fall into two categories: multi-tasking and writing,” says David Leonhardt, President of THGM Writers. “When I am writing, I need to be focused, to plod along. When I am multi-tasking, I need to be mentally alert and agile.
By afternoon, my mind is not as agile as in the morning or in the evening. I find that those times are good for writing, as my brain won’t multi-task as well. As best I can, I try to block afternoons for writing or for big projects that I need to do uninterrupted. That works pretty well for me.”
Shut Yourself Away
“As I work from home (my team members are, too!) ‘isolating’ myself in a particular room and blocking certain hours of the day for ‘do not disturb, except when there’s force majeure’ time works wonder,” says Ivan Widjaya, owner and editor at Noobpreneur.com. “With constant distractions, such as the mailmen, kids, including nagging clients, I need to adopt ‘no interruption allowed — not even emails’ policy.”
“Organization. Many people fail to organize themselves which leaves them running around in circles,” says Stoney G. deGeyter, CEO & Project Manager at Pole Position Marketing “The busier you are the more important organization becomes. For me, I use tasks, task lists and checklists to help me determine what I need to do and when. If I am in the middle of one task and come across something else I need to do, I put it on a task list somewhere so I will get to it at a more appropriate time.
I also use lists to ensure I don’t forget to do something important. The downside to this is I don’t remember anything I have to do (because it’s on a list) but I love that I don’t have to use my memory on mundane things and can use it for things that are far more important.”
Start with a Plan
“Plan your day beforehand. It can be at the end of the day prior (when you’re already feeling tired anyway) or in the morning before you dive in,” says Robert Brady, Founder of Righteous Marketing. “Know what commitments you have and what needs to be done. Then prioritize accordingly so that you’re focusing your most productive time on the most critical tasks.”
Each to His (or Her) Own
“I am a firm believer that the best time management system is in the eye of the beholder,” says Rieva Lesonsky, CEO and President of GrowBizMedia and SmallBizDaily.com “And I don’t think business owners should impose their favorite system on their team—you have to let people find the system that works best for themselves. For me, checking email 1st thing in the morning & continually throughout the day keeps me current. That goes against the advice of almost every time management expert I’ve ever read. But it works for me.
Also, it’s so easy to get distracted down when you’re online discovering blogs and articles you want to read. Reading them is a time-waster, so I save them to Pocket (one of my favorite apps) and can read them later when I have time.”
Time Management Photo via Shutterstock
Being focused is a skill. It is easy to let your attention go to interesting things but focusing on something until it is done requires skill and dedication. And it is one of the greatest time management skills out there.
Since time is such a limited commonity, I like to think of it as an investment that should pay high returns. To I to make sure my planning has a high PAY off, so I Plan According to Yield.
Since time is such a limited commodity, I like to think of it as an investment that should pay high returns. To make sure my planning has a high PAY off, I Plan According to Yield.
“Avoid that Email” and “Take Fewer Meetings” has kicked into gear at our agency since we employed Arrangedly for task management and Slack for minutia management.
Our next test is to “Stick to a (Personal) Schedule” by allowing team members to create their own work schedules within the 40 hour needs of the agency.
Very good article. On our blog, we created a 3×3 time management matrix to simplify the time organization matter – welcome to have a look! 😉