Every entrepreneur must allocate the right amount of time to each task, regardless of how busy their schedule is. To start the New Year 2023 with an efficient and productive business, here are 15 time management hacks from entrepreneurs.
1. Focus on productivity’s key components.
There’s no denying that you can get more done in less time by using productivity tips. There aren’t any quick fixes, though. Rather, in order to get more done, you have to change your habits.
To start, it’s a good idea to create a list of daily objectives to help you concentrate on achieving them. Next, make sure you devote time to deep work and avoid being tempted by quick tasks that are unrelated. And ultimately, your productivity hacks will become habits if you take a consistent approach.
The four elements of productivity include:
- Plan ahead. Get a clear grasp of your workday or project schedule.
- Keep your focus. Set aside time for deep work free of distractions.
- Think carefully before you make a decision. Avoid getting off track by prioritizing the right activities.
- Maintain consistency. Continually work at a regular pace.
2. Energy and environment should be considered when slotting the task.
All your daily tasks will be segmented into three categories based on the time you have available.
- The first category is mindless tasks. These are tasks you could pretty much complete in your sleep. Exercise, washing dishes, doing laundry, and stuffing envelopes are examples.
- In category 2, we have distracted tasks. If you do these things while your kids or an employee are asking you for help, you can come back to your work without feeling frustrated. For example, you might send administrative emails or respond to social interactions.
- The third category entails focusing-tasks. Your full attention is required for these tasks. If you’re interrupted while doing them, or you don’t have mental clarity while doing them, you find yourself frustrated.
If your mental capacity is high, you should never do mindless tasks. On the flip side, the focus tasks you need to complete are never done when your energy is low, or you are distracted. Once you have assessed your mental clarity and environment, you can then decide whether you need to complete a focused, distracted, or mindless task list.
Additionally, I recommend scheduling these tasks in your calendar. By doing so, you’ll be able to assign a time frame to each task. As a result, you respect your time and your tasks. As a result of practicing this, your time will expand without you even trying.
Furthermore, this will train you to prioritize much more effectively, as there are only so many hours in a day. Due to time constraints, you will become more attentive and focused on the tasks at hand. It will also make you more aware of things that aren’t worth your time.
3. Schedule non-negotiable self-appointments.
People tend to prioritize other people’s needs before their own. So, how are you planning to find time for self-introspection, learning new things, getting together with friends from college, and evaluating your performance from the past week?
It is only through setting up self-appointments that entrepreneurs are able to find the time to devote to these activities in addition to taking care of thousands of other things. Your self-appointment can consist of the following:
- Stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the markets you follow.
- Learn from online tutoring websites or a portal such as Coursera.
- Make small talk with your business school friends and other entrepreneurs, or even leave some conversation-starting comments on the social profiles of relevant influencers.
- Schedule your tasks for the week, month, or even year ahead.
4. Don’t be aggressive.
Typically, entrepreneurs are fast-moving, and they like to accomplish a lot quickly. After all, being able to accomplish more with less is seen as one of the most important qualities of an entrepreneur. Being aggressive and unrealistic can, however, be very different things.
A person who creates plans and has almost never met them is probably setting unrealistic deadlines. Unrealistic timelines can be caused by a number of factors, including::
- Leaving out minor details, such as travel time between meetings.
- External dependencies are not taken into account.
- Uncertainties or unknowns are not reviewed.
As long as timelines are met properly, being aggressive is a great quality. Continuously missing deadlines and pushing the boundaries could, however, negatively impact motivation. In short, stop being overly aggressive when you plan your day and week.
5. Quit the hard deadlines.
“Whenever I tell one of my peers that I don’t give my team members hard deadlines, their jaw drops. ‘How do you get anything done on time?’ they ask,” writes Aytekin Tank in Entrepreneur.
“In the case of my company, Jotform, I offer employees some leeway for turning in a task by avoiding getting overly specific about a date,” he explains. For particularly big projects, I also allow teams to set their own intermediate milestones if they’re facing a lot of wiggle room. “I’ve found this approach not only serves to help create a sense of momentum and autonomy, but it also keeps their focus in check.”
“That’s just not realistic,’ I’ve heard more than once from opinionated peers,” Tank asserts. “But I assure them I’m also a pragmatist and have contingency plans in place like time buffers by asking for a task earlier than when I need it due.”
“And I apply this same principle to myself,” he states. “I don’t set hard deadlines because, in truth, doing so would only fuel my perfectionistic tendencies — leading to full-blown procrastination on my part.”
You don’t always have to learn how to space out all your tasks in order to manage your time. It’s about getting rid of the pressure that holds you back.
6. Unstructured time should be allocated.
As its name suggests, unstructured time is time allocated for nothing. By “nothing,” I mean anything other than work agendas and personal meetings. In other words, your “me time” is your unstructured time.
However, you might be wondering, “I’m already swamped; why set aside some time for nothing?”
Effective time management, however, includes managing your unstructured or “slack” time. How come? As you schedule more entries into your calendar, you become busier. As you get busier, you push yourself further and further into mental and physical exhaustion. In the end, burnout or even sickness may result.
Entrepreneurs must take care of their health in order to prosper. If you have some unstructured time, you can nap, exercise, or engage in self-care — even if it’s just for one to two hours. This can be done on a weekly or biweekly basis.
Basically, it’s during these times of mental freedom that you are more imaginative, refreshed, and stress-free. As a result, you’ll have more energy, focus, and attention.
7. Take a break from technology.
Technology has become one of the most important aspects of almost every business today. A business can use it in every aspect, from customer relationship management to communications. Today’s entrepreneur knows how to save valuable minutes and hours by using technology.
Despite this, many people feel compelled to check their favorite social media channels or websites while working. Some may even become too reliant on technology to improve their productivity, which can backfire. However, the strength of your willpower determines whether you are able to resist scrolling or whether you are constantly clicking while working.
The American Psychological Association sought advice from Larry Rosen, Ph.D., for anyone experiencing attention deficit disorder. As an example, in order to increase your attention span, he recommends learning how to increase it. After 15 minutes of work, check your messages and alerts. When you can go longer than 15 minutes without technology, increase the time.
8. Be prepared for interruptions.
It can be crushing for entrepreneurs who have family commitments to look after to have their work day interrupted.
You could end up having to deal with unnecessary problems, even from your colleagues. You may be forced to take a long leave unexpectedly by a star performer, you may have an accident at work, your car may break down on a lonely road, or you may receive a furious email from your top client.
When your schedule is crammed with your own tasks, it’s hard to adjust to these unforeseen circumstances. In order to keep your daily and weekly targets on track, you need to keep some white space in your daily schedules.
9. Follow the communication chain of command.
Meeting requests are common among entrepreneurs. The question is, however, can we always be in meetings? There is no doubt that meetings are the biggest time-suckers, especially when external meetings involve travel. For instance, it seems as if your day just evaporates after four meetings.
But is it really necessary to attend every meeting? Thankfully, you’ll save a lot of time and money if you follow the communication chain of command.
When scheduling meetings, start at the top and work your way down. If a request cannot be addressed via email, consider scheduling a phone call or web meeting using Zoom Productivity Calendar or your favorite calling method.
When you cannot address a request by phone or web meeting, what should you do? It is only then that you should schedule an in-person meeting. When a phone call or an email can be used to address a request, do not accept an in-person meeting. Have you just received a meeting or call request? You can ask your partner for their questions before setting up a time: you’ll be able to address most concerns via email. As a result, you’ll have a clear agenda for the meeting if you attend.
It is typically better to have in-person meetings with customers, investors, advisors, and potential employees in order to negotiate or build relationships. In reviewing your meeting list, you may be able to convert at least a few in-person meetings to web meetings or even emails. With just one simple change, you could save hours of time and increase the amount of work you accomplish.
To sum up, here’s the communication chain of command:
- First, Email
- Next, Phone/Web Call
- Last, In-Person Meeting
10. Automate as much as possible.
It is not the number of hours spent that determines how hard you are working. Rather than working hard, you should work smarter and more effectively. A smart entrepreneur does not have to spend countless hours on manual labor to achieve his or her goals. By using technology, they are able to achieve their goals.
The key is to find out which processes or activities can be automated to help you save time. Moreover, as an entrepreneur, you will probably have thousands of tasks, plans, and business concerns on your mind. With some amazing time management apps, you can easily get rid of many mundane tasks.
You can be more productive and streamline your work with these apps. You might also need an automation app, like Hello Bonsai, in order to handle things like contracts, invoices, and proposals. With Hello Bonsai, you can submit proposals and get contracts for freelancers. You can also manage your clients & leads, track your expenses, and handle freelance invoices and payments.
There are also scheduling tools like Calendar.
Calendar searches for open time slots in your connected calendars when you have a meeting to schedule. You can add or remove times and pick the length of the meeting. It’s also possible to add a physical address, phone number, or Zoom link. When you’re done setting up your preferences, you’ll be able to email meeting attendees your availability. It only takes a click for them to reserve a time, and Calendar will add it to your calendar and invite the attendees.
11. Don’t resist change.
“Sometimes when I teach this, my clients say, ‘I don’t really get how that’s a time drain,’” Lara Galloways tells Bcast. We all become habituated to doing things a certain way; as we learn to do things as we establish processes for doing things.
And that’s okay. “We may be actually quite productive most of the time,” Galloway says. As a business owner, things change sometimes. This includes systems, innovations, technology, and even your business model.
“You may feel a little bit resistant to that change. You may want to keep doing things the way you’ve always done them,” she adds. For example, paper calendars versus calendar apps. “It’s not to say that there’s always something wrong with doing things the way you’ve always done them, whether it’s a calendaring system and how you manage your—if you use Excel for your customer relationship management, more power to you,” Galloway states. However, there are times when it is worthwhile for a business owner to evaluate their business, “Are you stuck doing things the old, outdated, inefficient, and ineffective way, which is wasting your time? ”
Having a system that makes you more efficient is awesome. This is exactly what systems are designed to do. You should, however, be honest with yourself about whether your systems are draining your time.
Once again, there is no judgment here. You just have to be honest with yourself.
To start, ask yourself, “Can I identify an area in which I’m resisting change and wasting my time?” You will benefit greatly by answering this question.
And, remember, it’s up to you to bring about this change.
12. Make knockout lists.
“I have little note cards in my closet, in my basement,” says serial entrepreneur, investor, and host of “The Profit” Marcus Lemonis. “I’ll make a list of the five things I want to get done that day.
“Without exception, I have to get those five things done,” continues Lemonis.
Basically, the items on the notecards are a promise he must keep. Moreover, because he writes these cards in the morning, they’re a great way to start the day.
“I don’t make lists at the end of the day.” Instead, he makes “lists at the beginning of my day. “I always have my knockout list.”
At the end of the day, Lemonis literally sends these cards flying. “The cards make really cool paper airplanes.”
13. Productivity or efficiency?
People often confuse productivity with efficiency. However, there is a significant difference between the two concepts, despite the fact that they are often considered to be synonymous.
An individual’s productivity is their output in terms of quantity. Simply put, it is the amount of work you accomplish. Efficiency, on the other hand, is about how much time and resources you devote to your work.
Let’s say you have two teams. In 10 hours, Team A has five workers to do Task 1. In the same number of hours, Team B has three workers to do Task 1. Both teams complete Task 1 in the same amount of time; however, Team B appears to be more efficient in this example.
In order to succeed as an entrepreneur or manager, you must be efficient and productive at the same time. While the quantity of your work is important, it’s your quality and standards that make you stand out.
When you’re clear on your goals and purpose, you can figure out what steps to take to get there. That’s how to make the most of your time.
14. Set your mind up for success.
Have you ever heard of the term ‘the entrepreneurial mind’? Yeah, it’s legit! Entrepreneurs think about time differently than everyone else. Their flexible minds and strong self-belief help them focus on the work at hand. It is for these reasons that entrepreneurs won’t waste their time or anyone else’s.
But how does this relate to time management? By focusing on success, you remove inessentials from your day. In turn, s soon as you start concentrating, planning, and prioritizing, you will achieve success in no time.
Do these skills come naturally, or can they be cultivated? Well, they are something you can develop over time.
In the words of Roy Ash, “An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew, hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.”
In essence, this is what it means to be an entrepreneur. What matters is not how many hours you put in, how much money you make, or how your image looks. Instead, it depends on how much value you place on your time.
Remember, the power of your mind cannot be underestimated. Make the most of it.
15. Become a batch master.
Finally, what’s the best time management hack for entrepreneurs? Batch tasks.
The concept of batching refers to lumping together similar tasks. Rather than checking your email and social media every time you get a notification, just check these three times. My personal routine is to do it before work, during lunch, and at the end of the work day.
Also, you can batch meetings on certain days. My meetings and phone calls are only scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays, which helps me prepare accordingly. Also, when I don’t have meetings all day, I can focus on deep work instead of stopping every few hours for a meeting.
Best of all? It’s easy to batch any kind of similar activity, whether it’s doing research, writing, or taking product pictures. The key is to set aside time for these activities once a day or once a week instead of bouncing between them all.
In the absence of batching, you jump from task to task as they come. You may write multiple emails, make countless phone calls, update your website, and manage your finances each day. That’s part of your job. But, when you switch tasks, your brain takes a moment to get engaged and refocus. In fact, according to a study from the University of California, Irvine, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track. If you switch contexts three times a day, you’ve lost over an hour.
Overall, when you jump around between tasks, you lose a lot of time and energy, and life can seem chaotic and unorganized.
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels; Thank you!
John Hall is the co-founder of Calendar a scheduling and time management app. He’s also a keynote speaker that you can book at http://www.johnhallspeaking.com.