How Successful Entrepreneurs Manage Their Time

If there’s one thing you don’t have, it’s enough time in the day. You’ve got a million ideas in your head about your existing business, your next venture, and a bunch of things you needed to complete last week. You regularly put in crazy hours, have gone multiple days without showering and are so glued to the computer that your friends are convinced you’ve entered a hack-a-thon.  It’s time to make sure you’re being the most effective manager of your most precious commodity — time.

Delegation Tips

Be specific when delegating tasks to team members, employees or contractors.  Explain exactly what you want and when it is needed by.  Be sure to build in time for your review, and for unforeseen circumstances.  The bigger or more important the product you delegate, the more cushion time you should build in for testing and double-checking.  Are you afraid to delegate because it won’t be done the way you want?  When your business gets to a certain size or phase of development, you really do need to learn to let go of some of the control.  At a minimum, decide which things you are able to delegate out, and which things you want to keep the reigns on.  Once you’ve developed good relationships with good performers, you can re-evaluate delegating out additional tasks.

Successful entrepreneurs know delegation is the key to freeing up time.  But there are other reasons you really need to be doing more of it, or your business will never grow the way your competition will.  Your people will only develop their skills as far as they are given autonomy to do so.  A team member who has grown and developed in their individual decision making skills is a huge asset to your company.

Brainstorming Techniques

You need to set aside time for critical thinking and planning new ideas for your business. But finding the right balance of planning and taking action can be a major challenge. Here are some easy guidelines for brainstorming that will also save you precious time:

  • The right time – Brainstorm at your most creative time, but not during peak work hours that others are counting on you for operational support and decision making.
  • The right place – If you do all your work in one office or room, make an effort to physically change locations for creative brainstorming.  You’ll get more productive brainstorming out of your limited time.  — and a much needed break.

Procrastinators Beware

All that procrastinating is causing you to lose productivity and keeping you from getting the most important things done.  Spend the first hour of each day doing something toward the hardest thing on your plate.  Set a timer if you must to keep yourself on track.  As the day goes on and your energy dwindles, you can work on the more routine tasks.  An interesting thing might happen.  As your brain wanders during the more routine tasks, you are thinking critically toward solving the rest of the difficult problem you started the day with.  That gives you some motivation to pick up where you left off, and it’s not so daunting now because you’ve already started the task at the beginning of the day.

Scheduling and Grouping Tasks

If you’ve made it this far as an entrepreneur, you know you’re good at multitasking!  But keeping all those plates in the air is not time effective unless it’s been well-orchestrated.   Here are some key time management tips:

  • Set Days - Keep set days of the week for specific tasks
  • Free DayKeep at least one day a week free of specific set tasks
  • Email – Only check email at prescribed times of the day
  • Calls – Only return calls at prescribed times of the day

Time Management Scenario

So you’ve got a meeting with a potential investor on Wednesday and you’re behind in preparing. Monday morning the phone is ringing off the hook and it’s off to a stressful week:

  • Delegation – Delegate a parts of the Wednesday investor meeting prep to  team mates and ask for it to be done by Tuesday morning, so you can review it prior to Wednesday’s meeting.
  • Message Management – Return your most important calls at morning, noon and late afternoon.  If you’re in a time crunch for a Wednesday deadline, let all others go to voicemail during your core productive time from 9:30-11:30 am, or have someone screen calls for you.  Apply the same screening to email.
  • Mental Break  – Halfway through the day Tuesday as stress about the Wednesday investor meeting mounts, take a walk to clear your head and think creatively about your approach.

If it all seems like too much to implement in one week, try just one new time management strategy each week.  Remember that each business is different — talk to colleagues in your specific field to get their tips and tricks of the trade.

What are your best time management techniques?

Comments(6)

  1. visualriot

    Reply

    Shane I find it really useful to 1) use a CRM/Task Program. I would be lost with out it and 2) to chunk down time into 30 min pieces. I use a modified GTD approach I would say. The quick items dont get do not get done right away but instead all get scheduled into one of the 30 min chucks.

    • What I love about Time Management is that different approaches work for different people. It is important to do what is best for you! But the key is to stick to your schedule (plan). Discipline is the key!

  2. Ninah Hunter

    Reply

    Great, succinct pointers on managing time, Shane. It’s a constant battle for independent contractors and entrepreneurs. Basically, we need to define our most important tasks and then make appointments with ourselves to make sure we accomplish them. And it’s always harder than it seems until it becomes a habit–something I am still working on. So, thanks for the good reminder.

    Ninah Hunter, Real Estate Pro
    Keller Williams Realty
    Montrose, CO

  3. Sirena Williams

    Reply

    Great article. I wish I had a designated time to brainstorm. When creativity hits I take action then and there no matter where I am. If I don’t I tend to forget what it is that I had though of. I find recording myself on my phone during my creative time helps. I can then sit down and write out what it is I want to do.
    Sirena Williams recently posted..The Name of The Game is TrafficMy Profile

  4. Frank Woodman

    Reply

    Again you’ve given us a good article that offers some key information on understanding how to better manage our time. I know that for most of us it’s one of our biggest barriers to success. So often the small business person or the self employed have no one to keep their nose to the grind stone so they don’t stay focused. That lack of focus means that time is wasted or not used productively and that causes problems. Anyway I think that even after years of working on this problem your article had give me new food for thought. Thanks
    Frank Woodman recently posted..Evernote Announces Major Security BreachMy Profile

  5. Trackback: Delegation — Not Only Luck

Leave a comment

CommentLuv badge