Time is your most asset. Whether you are an employee, manager, or entrepreneur, you want to make every second count. We know, like with most things, that is easier said than done. The average office worker is productive for less than two and a half hours per day. On top of that, most employees are interrupted every six to twelve minutes. This does not even include the time spent on social media during a typical workday.
If you are an entrepreneur, you know what it’s like to have an endless to-do list. Prospecting, marketing, and other business activities require an ongoing effort but there are only 24 hours in a day. So obviously you would still need to take some time off for things other than work.
Effective time management is even more important when setting up a business and can really make the difference between success and failure. This factor drives productivity, improves decision-making and ensures better outcomes, among other aspects.
The key is to prioritize essential tasks and start managing your time. For example, you could break larger goals into smaller, more manageable steps and tackle the hardest tasks first. Another strategy is to identify your peak productivity hours and then plan the day accordingly.
Why Every Entrepreneur Should Prioritize Time Management
Starting a business comes with its share of challenges. Most entrepreneurs have a limited budget and may not afford to hire people to handle social media marketing, customer service, market research and other operations. Their teams usually consist of two or three employees who wear multiple hats and take on a variety of tasks.
Entrepreneurship is glamorized in the media, but no one talks about the sacrifices required to succeed. Entrepreneurs around the world can work anywhere between 80 and 90 hours a week. This is the kind of sacrifice individuals take for their businesses to become successful.
If you’re wondering how to start a business, think about these aspects before going any further. You might have a solid plan, but your efforts could go to waste if you lack the time to get things done. That’s why you must learn to prioritize tasks, assign work as needed and get the most out of every hour. The whole point is to work smarter, not harder.
Proper time management can lead to better decisions and drive business growth. It can also lead to the reduction of unnecessary stress and make it easier to meet deadlines. As a result, you will be able to focus on what matters most and put in your best work.
Need one more reason to start managing your time? This practice could improve your mental well-being by preventing burnout, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. Time management can boost your self-esteem and make you feel a sense of accomplishment. Time management is not an inherited trait, but a skill that can be developed through practice. Keeping that in mind, here are some strategies you can use to organize your time more efficiently.
Find Your Peak Productivity Hours
Your body’s internal clock determines when you are most productive, according to a study conducted by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. As it turns out, most people reach their peak productivity level around 1:30 PM, rather than in the morning or late afternoon.
However, these findings do not apply to everyone. Some people are early risers and perform best in the morning, and others are night owls and feel more productive later in the day. The question is, which category do you fit into?
For starters, look for patterns in your daily life and try to figure out when your energy levels are at its highest. Take note of how you feel over a couple of weeks so you can identify your peak productivity hours. Next, use this information to restructure your work day and get more done.
Tackle the Most Challenging Tasks First
Let us face it: no one wants to wake up in the morning to write lengthy reports, conduct feasibility studies, or read scientific papers.
Most people will tackle the easiest tasks first and leave the rest for later. Unfortunately, this approach can stall your productivity, leading to missed deadlines and increased stress.
It has been recommended by many entrepreneurs to start with the most challenging tasks first so you do not end up drowning in work. Better yet, tackle those tasks during your peak productivity hours.
Through this approach, you will find it easier to get things done before you run out of energy. Plus, your other tasks will seem more manageable. Another advantage is that you will have time to deal with any issues that may arise and ask for help if necessary.
Rethink Your To-Do List
At the beginning of any new business venture, entrepreneurs face an endless to-do list, that however does not mean you have to do everything, all at once.
A smarter approach is to plan your work for the day or week and then prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, such as:
- Do first
First, review the projects you need to work on. Set goals and deadlines, determine which tasks are most important or urgent, and then focus on those over the next couple of days.
Schedule or delegate everything else and track your progress. Postpone or cancel any tasks that are neither important nor urgent, such as ordering new coffee mugs for your employees.
Use Time Management Tools
At some point in time, you’ve probably researched what are the best tools to use to help you run your business.The chances are that you decided to use software programs for accounting and billing, email marketing, file sharing and so on. These tools are common yet highly important, but you should also look for a reliable time tracker and other time-management tools to help you prioritize your daily tasks.
These apps can make it easier to plan things out and stay organized so you never miss a deadline. Some allow you to assign tasks, set custom alerts and notifications, take notes, and see how much time you spend on projects. Others enable users to take bookings from clients, sync team schedules and share files with customers or staff members.
The latest time management tools have all sorts of features, but you should choose one that fits your work style and business model. For example, you could use an all-in-one app for time-tracking, billing, file storage, meetings and project management, or a single app that allows you to create and manage your to-do lists.
Focus on One Task at a Time
Entrepreneurs often wear multiple hats and try to do a little bit of everything. If you go this route, you will find yourself juggling customer service, marketing, sales, accounting, and more. When you have so much on your plate, there’s little time left to focus on the core aspects of your business.
This approach might work for a few weeks or months, but things will get harder in the long run. What is more, multitasking can decrease productivity for many individuals. Over time, it may lead to anxiety, stress, and burnout, which negatively affects your health and your company’s bottom line.
The best thing you can do is focus on one task at a time. This will not only reduce mental stress but also minimize errors and result in higher quality work.
Single-tasking may seem impossible in the modern workplace, but you can at least cut your to-do list in half and delegate whenever you can.
A good starting point is to outsource time-consuming tasks like search engine optimization, social media marketing, or bookkeeping. Alternatively, consider hiring a virtual assistant or bringing some interns on board to help you out.
Leverage Your Time to Drive Business Growth
While there are no shortcuts to success, you can leverage your time to get better results. Good time management translates into higher productivity, faster growth, and less stress.
Most importantly, prioritize your mental well-being. You cannot expect to perform at your peak if you are stressed and sleep-deprived. Give yourself a break every now and then and learn to say “no” when you are feeling overwhelmed.