6 TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS
There are countless strategies for making each hour of your workday count, and while we’re going to touch on a few here, it’s important to note that it’s not really TIME management at issue. What it comes down to, really, is attention and energy management. Time itself is just the vehicle.
This means we need to look beyond just making sure each appointment is recorded well and includes time for travel and parking. (For the record, if you don’t already allot time for travel and parking….start doing that now.) Apply intention before appointments hit your calendar in the first place, and manage your energy by way of your calendar so that you’re avoiding burnout, and maximizing your impact on your business and the world around you.
Just do what Stephen Covey says, and instead of letting your calendar decide what’s important, YOU decide what gets promoted to calendar status. Before the detritus of last-minute requests and inefficient work clutters your week, block time for the important things. Schedule your creative or complicated tasks at the time of day you are most energized and ready to work. Schedule less cognitively demanding work around that. Schedule blocks of downtime for thinking, for exercise, for activities that support your personal values. For example, a PeeWee soccer game at 8am on a frigid Saturday is nobody’s idea of relaxing, but for parents who value being present at sporting events, shivering on the sidelines (without your phone!) can go a long way toward preventing work burnout. Same goes for volunteering, or enjoying hobbies. You decide what’s most important and schedule accordingly.
The Ivy Lee Method, Adapted
One element of the daily mindset ritual we teach our clients is an adaptation of the famous Ivy Lee Method. This method was developed early in the last century and involves taking a few minutes at the end of each day to write out the top tasks for the next day. It’s a wonderful way to get closure to the day, and with time will turn into a cue for your brain to switch work mode off. When you arrive to your workspace the next day, the major, energy-expensive work of setting priorities is already done. Just work through the list, one by one, only moving on when the previous task is complete.
The Pomorodo Method, Not Adapted
In case you haven’t heard of it, this lovely timer-based productivity practice involves breaking work blocks into 25 minutes of focused work, and five minutes of rest. There’s some science to support this practice, as our brains can only really do a thing for about half an hour before losing focus. If thoughts intrude during your work time, simply jot them down for later. That is usually enough acknowledgment for your brain to allow you to re-focus on what you were working on.
Chunk bigger to-do’s, like starting a podcast, into smaller steps, and keep chunking steps down until you’ve reached a single task. So instead of “figure out a logo,” it’s “contact three graphic designers for quotes.” Done.
Two Minute Rule
Also known as: overcome inertia. So, you’re at the next item on your list, and you just really don’t want to do it. Maybe it’s the item that keeps getting shuffled to the next day, day after day, because you Just. Can’t. Mental clutter is very much like physical clutter in that it has psychological weight. It takes up space in your mind, and drains your energy. In order to get moving on these kinds of tasks, set a timer for two minutes and just start doing SOMETHING. Maybe do a terrible first draft of that email you’ve been putting off, or create the column headers for that big ugly spreadsheet you need to fix. Chances are, once you start, you’ll get more than two minutes’ of work done, but no need to tell your brain that. It’s only two minutes!
How many times do you get that email from a software company? “Hey we’ll be down this weekend for scheduled downtime.” It works for software, and it works for humans. When you’re on the five minute Pomodoro break, really BE on break. Take a walk outside, grab a drink of water, do some jumping jacks, whatever as long as it isn’t work. When you show up to hang out with friends, or at that punishingly early soccer game, or to dinner with your partner, BE there. Leave your phone in the car, knowing that intentional, focused rest is every bit as important to productivity as all the steps above.
Again, it’s not really about time. It’s about your energy, your focus, and your impact. Intentionally building a calendar that creates space for you to do the most important things in and for your business won’t take away all the stress of entrepreneurship, but it will put you in the driver’s seat for building the business and life you want.