How To Manage Your Time As An Entrepreneur
I'm a firm believer that an entrepreneur's most valuable possession is their time.
Although this holds true for everyone, it's especially true for entrepreneurs.
As an entrepreneur, we're constantly 'thinking' of new ideas, new businesses, new ventures, new futures.
We can get bombarded and carried away with our imaginations.
However, like everyone else, we only have 24 hours in our day and a not-so-long lifespan when you truly internalise it.
With that said, it's extremely important that we learn to balance our time effectively and focus on the things that matter to us and move the ball ever closer to our dreams.
We need to be at peace with the fact that we're not going to be able to do every single thing, or idea that we have in our minds.
That's what the entrepreneurial mind is made for - wondering and imagining.
When we let it roam free, we end up finding ourselves in a vibrant world of creativity and awe - however, it's important to break out of it and get back to what's at hand.
Thinking about it, this is another reason we find ourselves vulnerable to shiny object syndrome; something I spoke about a few days prior.
We simply have too many ideas and too little time to try them that we're constantly in a state of fear, fear of missing out on the opportunities that cross our minds.
With the aid of social media, it's even more important today to shield ourselves from this fate.
It's increasingly more crucial to learn to manage our time well, staying consistent and true to one thing at a time.
In this article, we discuss how you can effectively manage your time as an entrepreneur.
Break your day up
The most important first step to take when managing your time is to understand, roughly, where all the time is going.
Whilst working on Condensr and running my 30+ customer discovery interviews, I learnt about different ways people do stuff in their day-to-day lives.
One person, I had the honor of speaking to told me that he breaks his days up into 3 parts.
The first part of the day is for learning.
The second part of the day is for action.
The third part of the day is for giving back.
We can use this 3 part technique to our advantage.
Yesterday, I wrote an article on morning routines - I believe the first thing every single entrepreneur needs in their lives is a morning routine.
This is a great way to guide the rest of your day.
Therefore, the first part of the day in our case can be to work on ourselves - exercise, journal, read, have breakfast, shower, and get ready for the second part of our day.
The second part is spot on - this is when you're taking action, putting everything you know, or just learnt, into play.
This is going to be the longest part of your day usually - around 8 hours on average.
During this time frame, you're doing things that move the ball forward.
You're working on your business, finding clients, doing customer discovery, improving and iterating your products or services, you're fulfilling client work.
For Hawk Prospecting, this is currently the block I use for outreach, answering Quora questions, and raising awareness for the product in general.
I also tend to improve the product and add subtle new features.
The final part of your day can be a little more abstract - it might be different some days compared to others.
This is when you're going to be helping others, maybe in meetings, or just taking a break sometimes.
Either way, the third part of your day is completely up to you.
As long as the first two have been done right, the 3rd part of your day can be for anything.
This can even be going to the gym, working out, watching TV, spending time with your family or loved ones.
Split your day up - this is one of the most effective ways to get into a routine every day.
Track your days
We all have the same 24 hours in our days and so it's important we keep track of every single hour of our day.
Again, going back to the interviews for Condensr, I spoke to an entrepreneur who split his time up in 5-minute blocks.
This meant that his day had 288 blocks.
This is overkill - the furthest I would go with time management is tracking every 30 minutes.
Most things you do like reading, working, eating, etc, shouldn't be taking longer or much shorter than 30-minute blocks anyway.
A while ago, I wrote about using the Pomodoro technique.
This is also a great way to track your day and make sure that you're spending enough time on work.
The Pomodoro technique is a sort of timer where you spend 25 minutes working, with 5-minute breaks.
Every 3-4 times you do this 25 minutes worth of work, you're going to want to take a longer break which is around 15-30 minutes long.
The Pomodoro technique is a great way to track your work time and know where your time is being spent.
In the morning, however, you may put a cap of 1-2 hours for your morning routine.
You may want to spend 15 minutes on mindfulness, doing your bed, and reading out your affirmations.
From here, a 30-minute run followed by a 15-minute shower puts us at an hour.
Finally, 30 minutes worth of reading followed by 30 minutes of breakfast puts us at 2 hours.
This is only one way out of thousands or millions of combinations you can use for your morning routine.
A great way to plan this is by using planners which show your days broken up into time blocks.
Here, you can visualise when you wake up and how long it takes you to do each thing in your day.
Technology can be your best friend when used effectively.
It's hard to correlate technology with efficiency and output in today's age - we're constantly using it for the wrong things.
Today, technology is a vehicle for our own human laziness, however, it could be used to reverse this completely.
In fact, unless you own something like a mining business, technology like computers and phones will most likely be a part of your day whether you like it or not.
It's almost impossible to avoid technology today as an entrepreneur.
This is why it's also a great idea to leverage it for your own benefit.
For example, on Facebook, I have this thing called a 'Newsfeed eradicator.'
When I'm on Facebook, I can't see anything in the newsfeed - instead, it's empty space replaced with a single quote for motivation.
This is only one of the many things you can do to manage your time on the internet and during the workday.
You can use apps to lock certain other apps for a certain period of time.
This can stop you from going on social media apps whilst working.
You can turn off notifications so that you're not distracted whilst working too.
There's a bunch of time management apps out there too.
Some might work whilst others might not so give some a try.
Your day is probably also filled with lots of monotonous tasks - luckily, there are things that can automate a lot of the things in your day-to-day lives.
Lots of entrepreneurs will find that we need to have meetings.
Thankfully, we're able to save ourselves from having to leave our houses and meet up with others by simply going on Zoom, or a basic phone call.
On the topic of technology and the internet, you're going to want to make sure your email is the first or last thing you check in your day.
The inbox is like a black hole that sucks your time without your realization.
It's almost like a very boring version of social media.
There will always be ways to optimise your day - it's best to use technology to aid you in this pursuit.
The 80/20 rule
In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered something that is very prominent all around our world.
He discovered that almost everywhere you look, 20% of the things in the world produce the remaining 80%.
He made this discovery by looking in his garden and noticing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden were responsible for 80% of the peas.
This concept can also be applied to our lives.
This is why it's important that you spend most of your time on the vital 20% of tasks that require your attention.
After all, 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your results.
However, 80% of your day will most likely all be 'busy work' - things you need to do or should do which won't have much inclination on the outcome you're striving to achieve.
Therefore, focusing the second part of your day on the important, must-do tasks will yield much greater results than if you were to focus on the less important tasks.
Prioritize what's important and likely to move the needle for you, and focus more of your time and energy on completing those things.
Maintaining focus whilst working is a crucial part of your day.
This is why I wrote an article on this very idea not long ago.
When you're in your workday, you want to make sure that you know what you're going to work on already.
If you don't know what you're going to do during the first or second blocks of your day, there's going to be a lot of wasted time because you're going to spend it thinking about what to work on.
The first step to working efficiently is to know what you're going to work on.
When you work efficiently, you're essentially able to do more work in a shorter period of time and so you're able to have more time in the day to do other things.
Use the techniques and strategies I mentioned in the article on laser focus to drive the way you work.
When you already know what you're going to spend time and energy on, it's a lot easier to get to work and so your time is already well managed.
Finally, it's important to understand that you're not going to get this perfect the first, or second time around.
It might take weeks, or even months to get into the right rhythm of work and time management.
However, it's crucial you understand that making this work will save you tons and tons of hours over your lifetime.
Therefore, keep trying and improving every day.
Try new ways of managing your time and track your progress.
At the end of the day, during that last block, you can use this time for reflecting.
reflect on how your day went and where your time was spent.
Look for gaps and opportunities to improve and streamline this.
Where did you improve, and where can you manage your time better?
Only after you're able to do this, you're able to maximise your time and work efficiently.
And that is that!
Did you learn something new from this article? What do you do to manage your time effectively?
Let me know in the comments below!
Till next time,