Smart time management doesn’t happen by accident. The people who know how to maximize their days deliberately plan to get the most from every minute. We are in the fourth quarter of 2019 — here are 4 time management mistakes to ditch before the end of the year.
Founders face bigger time management challenges than most. Jacob Muller, CEO of Masterly, wrote for Medium about the diverse demands on his time. He solves that problem by scheduling every day from seven a.m. to eleven p.m.
That kind of extreme structure works for many people, but not everyone enjoys turning every day into a checklist. Proper time management is less about following the best practices that work for others and more about finding a personal balance between comfort and productivity.
We are building out and finishing our last quarter of 2019, and most founders already understand that hustle without mindfulness is ineffective. Entrepreneurs must work hard to succeed, but they don’t need to sacrifice sleep in the process.
Fix these critical time management mistakes before the end of the year.
1. Failing to leverage smarter tools
Sticky notes are fine, but in the age of AI and intuitive technology, they have limited utility. Embrace the evolution of time management techniques and technology — get on board with better tools.
Automate common tasks whenever possible. Use a marketing calendar to take the guesswork out of campaigns and content creation. Lean on tracking software to figure out how you spend your time, then consciously cut out the wastes of time that sneak into the day. Don’t eliminate all downtime — those periods of rest are great for creative thinking — but do address obvious wasters, such as excessive attendance of meaningless meetings.
2. Keeping your schedule a secret
Collaborative environments need collaborative leaders. Don’t keep that calendar under lock and key. Instead, share your calendar with people who could benefit from access.
Demands on founders’ time are not limited to the office. Colleagues, team members, investors, friends and family members all want a piece. By sharing your calendar with the important people in your life, you can keep everyone in the loop without struggling to remember who needs what and when.
Exercise caution to avoid oversharing calendar access with people who don’t need it. Just because everyone wants some of your time does not mean everyone deserves an equal shot at it. Get used to saying “no” politely to those who might turn calendar access into a headache.
3. Starting late
I’m a big proponent of early mornings. By waking up early, I find time to exercise, prepare for the day ahead of me and hit the ground running when I get to work. Not everyone is cut out for a 5 a.m. wakeup, but regardless of when your alarm rings, commit to a starting time and stick to it.
Punctuality doesn’t end when the day begins, though. Joseph Allen of the University of Nebraska Omaha researched the relationship between productivity and timeliness in business meetings. Of meetings covered in the survey, only 49 percent started on time. The later the meeting started, the less satisfied the participants became.
Managers in the study were more likely to report that meetings began on time, but that didn’t mean they were more punctual. They were just more likely to excuse their own lateness. Rather than force others to wait on your arrival to begin, treat everyone’s time with respect to increase productivity and morale.
4. Not prioritizing tasks
If founders had time to do everything they wanted, days would be longer than weeks. Busy people cannot afford to handle it all. Instead, they must learn to delegate tasks where possible and eliminate them where necessary. Busy people must also be on time.
Bill Trenchard, startup guru and investor, believes that CEOs spend about 70 percent of their time on suboptimal tasks. He recommends a two-minute rule to keep schedules manageable. If a request takes two minutes or less to complete, he does it immediately. If it takes longer, he places is on his calendar to manage later.
This quick-thinking process leads to faster decisions and allows founders to think about what truly matters to their success. If a task takes longer than two minutes and does not appear valuable on review, either delegate it to someone else or decline the request.
The calendar shows a big year coming for 2020 — but it doesn’t mean clocks have more hours in the day. As competition heats up among startups, entrepreneurs must learn to maximize their time investments and avoid the mistakes that wasted hours in the first three quarters of the year. Gear up now to prepare your team for next year. Lean on smarter technology, get used to saying “no” and commit to a schedule to practice better time management moving forward.