Time management is essential for every business, entrepreneur, manager, and the whole team.
For entrepreneurs, time management is one of the most important factors for success yet a daunting task as they need to wear multiple hats to get their business off the ground.
Entrepreneurs usually do not have the luxury of a whole team where he or she can share the responsibilities equally among the shoulders of all.
From product development and sourcing to accounts and marketing, they have to be involved everywhere. Not to forget that they have personal lives as well and they want to have the much needed work-life balance too.
Amidst the roller-coaster ride, the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face is not having enough time to complete their daily tasks.
No matter what they do, there can’t be more than 24 hours and seven days in a week. And even if they go hard on clocking a lot of hours every day, it won’t do any good.
A recent study reveals that in an 8-hour workday, most people are effective for only 3 hours or less. So where does the rest of 5 hours go?
So let’s face it.
You can’t manage your time well just by working hard. You need to be effective in managing and hacking your time, so you get maximum out of every minute of your day.
Top entrepreneurs never underestimate the importance of time management because they know that the more they focus on time management, the better the outcome will be for them.
To help entrepreneurs like you, we have compiled a list of 27 time management tips that will make you more effective at work – on top of being productive.
1. Start Your Day Earlier
Every single minute has its worth for an entrepreneur.
Starting the day earlier gives them some extra time which can be used towards planning the activities of the day, and highlighting all important tasks that need to be done before finishing the day.
Successful entrepreneurs around the world are known to wake up at or before 6 am.
Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, Indira Nooyi, and Barack Obama start their day with the dawn.
2. Work Out or Play a Sport in the Morning
Yeah, exercise or a sport in the morning. I know a lot of you will be saying meh..really.
But let’s hear it from the king of entrepreneurs who owns 400+ companies (woaahh). I’m talking about Sir Richard Branson.
When asked, how you manage 400+ companies, thousands of employees and gazillions of things, he simply said:
“I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit, as it keeps the brain functioning well.”
The billionaire mogul wakes up at 5 am every morning to start his day with some kitesurfing and tennis (and breakfast) before he gets to the business.
And it makes perfect sense that a healthier body and achieve more in less time and with better efficiency.
3. Set a Time Limit for Everything
Keeping a proper check and balance on schedules is extremely important to utilize the time effectively.
Set a specific time for all your meeting and try your best to get them done on time otherwise.
Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, uses a fairly simple yet effective technique to maximize time and evaluate meetings.
He calls it the “Two Pizza Rule.”
He will not go to any meeting if two pizzas are not enough for the members of that meeting.
4. Use Laziness to Your Advantage
Lazy people are generally tabooed for being unproductive. They consume a lot of time in getting tasks done and level-up, even with just-productive people.
However, on the flipside, they tend to be more efficient as well.
Let’s hear it from the Chief Experience Officer of Microsoft.
In her interview to Fast Company, Julia Larson-Green said;
“I’m a huge procrastinator and a fairly lazy person. Being lazy makes me more efficient because I try to find ways that I can do the best work in the most minimal amount of time. I also know that I need pressure to perform, and procrastination is one of the levers for creating that pressure.”
If being unproductive and lazy person can’t stop you from getting a C-Level job at the world’s largest tech firm, then there is no way it can stop you from being a successful and time-efficient entrepreneur.
5. Implement Ivy Lee’s Time Efficiency Hacking Technique
Ivy Lee, a productivity consultant at Bethlehem Steel Corporation, brings an excellent technique for time management. According to him,
- Before you plan your day, list down six things that you like to get done the next day
- Set all these six things with respect to priority
- While starting your day, focus on the first task until it gets done after that, proceeds further like till the end
- Keep going the same way until you finish all six tasks and write them again when the day ends
- Include Predictable Outcomes with Activities
6. Say No
When you start a business or even own a small/midsize business, the chances are that you have to do a lot of meetings and be part of a lot of small huddles and interruptions.
But this doesn’t mean you have to greet them with open arms every time. In fact, you should show your back as many times you can.
That’s what the world’s 2nd richest person is doing.
Warren Buffett’s approach to time management is very simple.
Just Say “No.”
In an interview to Entrepreneur he said;
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
But this doesn’t mean saying No randomly to everything but purposefully and deliberately saying No to nonessentials, time wasters and even letting go of potential opportunities sometimes.
7. Take Advantage from the Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule) to Prioritize
This principle was put forward by an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto.
According to this rule, 80% of your results will come from 20% of the efforts.
This came as no surprise when we mentioned earlier that nearly 5 hours from an 8 hours workday are just dust and smoke.
From a time management perspective, you should prioritize and channel all your concentration towards the 20% of all those significant tasks that will produce 80% of the results.
Pro Tip: Task prioritization was the core idea behind creating Week Plan as it lets you prioritize task and become more efficient at completing tasks. Rather than grinding and chunking on all tasks that comes your way, Week Plan lets you focus only on the most important tasks.
8. Get Rid Of Interruptions
Interruptions are the worst and most denting time killers.
Not only they consume your precious time, but they also result in losing your focus. These can kill a lot of time if not handled properly, especially if you are a work at home entrepreneur.
A study conducted by Leadership IQ on 6,000 professionals revealed that as many as 71% people suffer from interruptions at work, frequently. (Now you wonder why Warren Buffet always has a No on his tongue)
Imagine you are in a middle of something and highly focused on completing a task. But an interruption in the form on a call, staff coming in or your family needs your attention.
Dealing with that interruption can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes of your time, and you might probably need another 30 minutes to get back into your focus groove.
That’s how devastating interruptions could be.
Moreover, only 44% of those which get interrupted feel that their day was productive, whereas 67% consider a productive day when they block their interruptions.
Interruption can be of many types such as personal interruption, family commitments or any business related interruption.
The best way to deal with interruptions is to set a specific time for work and to handle all non-essential items later.
9. Surpass Initial Sluggishness with the 2-Minute Rule
Sometimes your pace in starting a task is slow due to the complexity of the task or your lack of interest.
It is usually difficult to deal with initial inertia in these circumstances, and often they lead to a lot of time getting wasted.
This can be solved using the 2-minute rule of time management.
The 2 Minute Rule is not about finishing your task in just 2 minutes; it’s about encouraging you to start the work instead of thinking about when to start.
If you start a task and spend your first two minutes doing it, then you will automatically get yourself involved around it, and you will notice that you end up finishing it quickly too.
10. Prioritize Time using Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrant System
The four quadrant system of Stephen Covey is very helpful to manage your time by filtering your tasks in term of priority and urgency level.
1st Quadrant: List all your task that are important and urgent as well.
2nd Quadrant: List all your tasks that are important but not too urgent.
3rd Quadrant: List all the tasks that are urgent but not important.
4th Quadrant: List of tasks that are neither important nor urgent.
11. Focus on Just-In-Time Knowledge
As an entrepreneur, you have to learn many new things to get a clear understanding of all your business operations and dynamics.
It requires a specific time to get all these critical data, and you have to search different platforms for it like searching on blogs, watching videos and more.
In this scenario, Just-In-Time learning is the best solution to handle things appropriately.
Originated from the manufacturing industry and more specifically by Toyota, just in time approach calls for working on a task, research on anything, only when it’s required.
For doing that correctly, you have to ensure that you don’t waste your time on unnecessary research. Rather, focus your effort on research that is essential and only when it’s required.
12. Delegate Your Tasks to Save Time
There are many things to take care of as an entrepreneur which sometimes is not easy to manage alone.
Delegating and getting work done by a staff member can help you save tons of time and make room for important tasks.
A study on task delegation revealed that 53 percent of business owners believe that they can grow their business by more than 20 percent if they delegate 10 percent of their workload to someone else.
Delegating tasks not only helps you save time but also increases your work efficiency as well as overall business. For example, if you are a tech founder, delegating marketing tasks to a specialized marketer not only improves your business’s marketing efforts but also gives you more time to focus on important tasks.
13. Automate All Your Repetitive Tasks
There are some tasks that you need to be done repeatedly very often.
These generally are the basic tasks which you normally perform over and over again but consumes chunks of your time.
You can filter out all these tasks and use services such as IFTTT or Zapier to automate them so that you don’t have to waste your time involving around these tasks again and again.
Here are some IFTTT recipes to automate business processes for small businesses and save many hours every time.
Pro Tip: You can use Week Plan to get reminded about or delegate repetitive tasks to your team.
14. Get Benefit from the Pomodoro Technique of Time Management
The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to concentrate on a specific task for a short period and try to get that task done within that time slot.
Typically, the Pomodoro Timer works on a maximum of 25-30 minutes time slot for each task and work dedicatedly on that task in that time slot.
Developed by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Time Management Technique works like this;
- Decide on the task to be completed
- Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.and end work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
This technique is popular among in software development projects and other incremental development projects.
Pro Tip: Week Plan has built-in Pomodoro Timer which you can start on any task you like.
15. Take Regular Breaks
Now you all might be wondering, how taking a break off work can help you with saving time on work?
The answer is fairly simple. Taking some time out from the busy schedule is quite helpful for entrepreneurs to get back on the tasks with more energy and focus.
A. Meditation: It helps you relax by clearing your mind and detaching you from work thoughts and stress.
B. Physical activity or Exercise: This helps you increase blood flow and improves focus and attention.
C. Improve Skills: Learning something new will help boost motivation.
D. Help a colleague: Looking out for a colleague at work enlightens your inner self and gives you a comforting and positive feeling.
E. Setup a Goal: Take time to think about and set up a new goal for work or your personal life.
So rather than being depleted of energy and motivation and ultimately spending more time on a task, taking time off from work help you refresh and recharge your mind.
This not only helps you with completing a task in less time but also with more efficiency.
Taking some regular short breaks will refresh your mind and also will help you to find other creative ideas to implement a better strategy towards work.
When you continuously get involved in your tasks without relaxing for a moment to take some fresh air, then you start feeling tired which will surely affect the time limit you have set for your tasks.
16. Do a Time Audit
Time audit is an excellent way to view a complete picture of all how you spend your time.
You can quickly identify where you are spending most of your time or which tasks are killing your time so that you can plan a better strategy towards them and make a positive change to deal with all those factors.
You can quickly make the necessary adjustments in your task planner and revise the strategy to get things back on track. These essential changes enable you to meet your time requirements and achieve your business goals.
To identify where you are spending most of your time, you can utilize apps like Rescue Time, which will help you understand your daily habits and where you spend your time, so you can focus and be more productive.
17. Filter out Your Three Essential Tasks
Time management has a strong relation with mind management. You have to first focus on mind management before having a strategy for time management.
Mind management is all about planning all your important tasks for the next day and keeping them in your priority list with a specific period. It will ensure that you keep a perfect balance among your main tasks and ordinary tasks.
From your weekly task calendar, you should separate three main tasks of the day, which are extremely necessary to be done. It will help you to accomplish all the key tasks of the day without wasting time on unessential tasks.
This can be achieved through Eisenhower’s Urgency Matrix.
Eisenhower’s Urgency-Importance Matrix is all about thinking appropriately before finalizing your task calendar. It will help you set priority among your tasks, and you will be more efficient in managing your time.
18. Assign Suitable Time for Tasks
Allocating a realistic time on your tasks will assist you to complete them on time otherwise; you have to adjust your schedule now and then which can waste more of your time.
When you do a time audit like mentioned above, it will unveil how much time you spend on tasks, including tasks that you usually do.
This, in turn, will help you identify how much time you will need for tasks and in allocating the best amount of time and not having to re-adjust your schedule again and again.
19. Complete Your Simple Tasks first (or maybe even at last)
Start your day by doing simple tasks first because they are easy to do and will finish quickly. It will boost your confidence towards the complicated tasks, and you will come up with more energy towards them.
If you are the type of person that needs to relax off early in the day, completing small and easier tasks will soothe off your stress.
But most of the less time consuming and complex tasks are not urgent and important.
As most time management gurus preach, completing time-consuming and difficult tasks from the start of the day, will help you focus and utilize your energy where it’s most needed.
And those easier and quick tasks at day end serves as your reward at end.
20. Make Better Initial Judgments
Having better initial judgments can help you with time management issues.
If you make a wrong time calendar of your daily tasks by filling it with all the unnecessary tasks on top of the list, then you will have to spend the massive time to correct these troubles.
That’s why you should give yourself some good time to plan an effective initial decision about scheduling your tasks.
For all non essential tasks that you need to do but not urgently, you can take the help of a solution like “Boards” in Week Plan, which serves as the Parking Lot for all such tasks.
21. Avoid Multitasking
Though multi-tasking might be geared at saving your time on tasks but in actual, it’s the opposite for most.
Research has shown that multitasking can waste time and efficiency because of the continuous switching between tasks.
To counter this, you can take help from Attention Management.
Attention management means having all your concentration towards a single task at a time instead of thinking about multiple tasks. If you get involved with various tasks at the same time, then your productivity will decrease because you can’t give appropriate attention to any of these tasks.
You will also waste more of your time doing that and also have to compromise with the quality of work as well.
22. Break Your Time-Consuming Tasks into Small Tasks & Chunks
Breaking all your tasks that require massive time to complete into small subtasks is a perfect way to handle them successfully.
This helps you on effectively managing your time and complete a project or task in smaller and manageable subtasks.
It will enable you to create a step by step approach to achieve the milestone and also keep you updated with the total time spend on that task so that you can track the exact time and measure your productivity.
23. Follow the Find out, Decide, or Do Pattern to manage time effectively
When you are not sure about any of your task and like to avoid it but having no idea about its impact, then you should first try to focus on three things;
- Find specific information regarding it so that you can understand it properly
- Decide whether you can do it now or it’s better to finish it later and
- Move further with other tasks.
It enables you to go in the right direction and make a better decision in managing your time effectively.
This is where a priority management system will assist you to set priority among your tasks.
It will provide you with a systemic approach to deal with all your tasks which is necessary because if you get stuck among different things at the same time, then you will end up getting nothing out of it.
Week Plan’s task management software helps you with prioritizing tasks and effectively using your time on tasks that matter.
24. Realize Quickly When Something Is Not Working
Sometimes, it’s better to make some minor changes to your daily schedule to get on top of everything.
It’s not necessary that the time management strategy that you have created will produce results in any condition. Sometimes your time management tactics will work and sometimes they might backfire.
You always need some alterations to your plan, but the best thing, in that case, is to accurately identify those weak areas that are creating troubles and change them quickly.
26. Take Advantage of your Sweet Productive Spot
Everybody has some preferred productivity time at which they are at their best.
For some people, morning time is the ideal productive time but for others, night time is the perfect time where their productivity is at its peak.
Finding your best productivity time and keeping all the complex task for that time is a great way to get more done in less time.
A time audit will help you understand and find your most productive time slot and helps you shift your important tasks in that period.
27. Color Code Your Time Calendar
Doing the color code to your time calendar is a handy time management tactic.
You can easily do this by setting different color around your tasks like filling your appointments area with red color, emails with blue color, marketing activity list with green color and so on.
This will work as a self-reporting tool for you by adding the results with all of them and also assist you to track your time on every activity.
Time management is undoubtedly the most challenging thing for a leader and entrepreneur. Creating a balance between work and life is sometimes quite difficult to manage in the limited 24 hours’ time period.
Many distractions will come your way every day, but the way you react to them is what it matters the most.
The time management tips mentioned in this article will not only help entrepreneurs to track their time spending’s on daily tasks but also boost their productivity and efficiency, to achieve maximum results in less time.
Do you have any time management tip you like to share?