You’re willing to work long hours for your business, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t place a value on your time – and manage it effectively.
Time is money – that may be a well-worn cliché, but it’s palpably true. As an entrepreneur, your productive time is the most valuable thing that you are investing in a business, but it’s also one thing many entrepreneurs treat far too cheaply. Just because you’re working long hours to build your business doesn’t mean that your time shouldn’t be valued. Effective time management will let you maximise this valuable resource, and use it far more effectively to drive business success. A few key tips have been proven to work when you’re looking to do this.
A single ‘to do’ list will eventually get so long that it’s impossible to get through – you’ll end up just playing catch-up with the day’s work. Most people will find it far more effective to assign a specific time for each activity that they need to do in their day. This allows you to make reasonably accurate projections about when key tasks will get done – and, if you do need to delegate something to somebody else, having a schedule to cover your main tasks will let you identify this sooner. Dedicate the first 20 minutes of your day to confirming your schedule. Also, invest some time at the end of the day to ‘update’ the schedule, identifying what you did and how long it took. This will be helpful for future scheduling, as you’ll have a much better idea of how long tasks actually take.
Humans are optimists by nature, and it’s been proven in many studies that we’re overly confident about our ability to perform a task in a certain timeframe: even when we’re looking to be conservative in our scheduling, we always give ourselves too little time. You can minimise this by budgeting slightly more time for each task than you optimistically think you need. Also budget in time for interruptions, such as calls from home and dealing with day-to-day issues.
Cut Yourself Off
People naturally answer a phone just because it rings. They respond to email instantly even if they’re engaged in something else. And now, with instant messaging, friends, family and colleagues can make immediate demands on your time.
If you’re engaged in something where you need a clear head and concentration, try putting up the ‘do not disturb’ sign. Turn Facebook and other instant messaging services off. Let phonecalls go to your voicemail – if it’s important enough, people will leave a message – and don’t open your emails until you’re ready to. If you’re one of those people who idly browses the internet when you’re meant to be working, the Stayfocusd app will break that habit – you can limit the amount of time you’re allowed on unproductive or leisure sites that tend to steal your time away. Finally, if you need to, lock the office door.
This can be a huge mental adjustment to make for people used to constant – and not necessarily productive – communication on all fronts. But you’ll see an immediate impact on your productivity when you do it.