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10 Time Management Hacks Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

10 Time Management Hacks Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

Entrepreneurs lead a busy and overwhelming life, whether you’re just starting out or already leading a company – you know how much your time is worth to you. But do you know where your time goes? Turns out, most people don’t, we all end up staring at our phones way too often and wondering just how we spent all day working without really achieving much. With life getting out of hand daily, everyone wants more control over their time. This is where time management comes in, a topic much raved about but still rarely practiced. Here are ten tips to get you started:

1. Track your time

The more you know about where your time goes, the more you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable. If you’re into time sheets, block out your day in a notebook and start writing down what you spend time on. If however, you’d rather save time tracking time, try one of the time tracking tools available out there and finally get a sense of your time. Time management expert, Laura Vanderkam suggest tracking all of your time for a week (precisely, 168 hours) to get a better sense of your habits. It’s a great start and the results are bound to dazzle you.

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2. Stop guesstimating

Now that you’re tracking time, you have a lot more insight into what tasks take the most of your time and how long certain tasks take. Set goals for every week and try to estimate how long will these take to accomplish. Your goal for next week will be bringing estimates as close as possible to reality. If you’ve ever worked in a management position, you know how hard it is for some people to estimate the time it’ll take for certain tasks. Now, try it for yourself and don’t worry if you’re way off – you’ll get better, that’s what time management is about anyway.

3. Plan ahead

Apparently, every minute you spend on planning saves you at least ten minutes in execution. If this sounds too good to be true – try it for yourself. Start your week on a Sunday, grab a pen and paper and think thoroughly about everything you want to achieve this week, think about bigger goals but also try to line up the steps needed. Make sure you’re ready to start work on Monday, rather than spending your morning trying to figure out where to start from.

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4. Make a smarter to-do list

Don’t just list our everything that needs to be done and expect to cross things off the list as they come. Organize your list by priority, make your goals realistic, and set a daily focus for each day of the week. This will help you clear your head and make your to-do list a bit more bearable, it also will help focus and stop wasting your time on reorganizing the list.

5. Batch related tasks together

Since focus is key to productivity, be smart about the things you choose to dedicate your time to and what time of day you spend on these. If you try managing your company internal stuff while emailing investors and discussing new feature requests, you’re bound to lose focus on at least one if not all of those things. So try to divide your weekly tasks in categories – internal, fundraising, development etc. Your brain can’t do context switching full time, try to keep focus on similar tasks to stay on track and save time.

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6. Schedule time for interruptions

You have a team of employees depending on you, you have a hundred unread notifications on your phone, you have meetings that require follow-ups, and the cleaners also need you to let them into the parking lot once they arrive. You’re an entrepreneur, you get interrupted a lot. This is why you should never schedule your day 100%, make plans for being interrupted. This might sound counterintuitive make sure you to optimize your schedule so the interruptions don’t disrupt your entire workflow.

7. Make use of prep time

Whether it’s a meeting or a phone call – anything that might go on forever and eat out your time while you helplessly try to get back to work – plan it out. Make an agenda for every meeting or phone call you have scheduled, make sure you lay out the goals you want to achieve with this, start with an introduction to everyone involved, be a leader of every conversation you’re in, and once everybody’s gotten what they wanted from it. Start with your exit strategy and don’t let small talk take over.

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8. Take breaks

Contrary to popular belief and modern business culture, breaks are not a waste of time. Breaks help restore focus and give you a fresh start for any task you have on hand. Be generous to yourself and take breaks often, don’t let the feeling of burnout get to you. Whether it’s a walk to the nearby park or a quick round of Candy Crush, you’ll feel refreshed and as good as new when back to work. Alternatively, try the Pomodoro method and see how it fits into your workflow.

9. Make use of incubation

Incubation, in terms of psychology, is one of the four stages of creativity and it starts when you’re not actively thinking about whatever problems need solving or ideas you’re trying to develop. Don’t think about work all the time. I know it might seem hard for someone that is supposed to always be working toward their goals but you’re actually more likely to get new ideas and think of solutions to problems you’re facing when you’re not actively thinking about the solutions. Many entrepreneurs boast about not taking weekends off or bringing their work home. The truth is you’re far more productive when not constantly keeping busy.

10. Calm down

Have you ever noticed how time goes by so slowly when you just calm down, clear your head and stay in the moment? Yoga, meditation, mindfulness are all methods of taking back some control over present, rather than planning for the future or thinking about the past. However, you don’t have to turn into a zen guru to feel the moment. It’s enough to try and not think about anything for a few minutes, enjoy a view, play with a pet, enjoy artwork or simply gaze at the sky. Be present and don’t let your time be taken over by the numerous distractions of the modern world and you’ll be happier and more productive in no time.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic – Business Woman via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

Overwhelmed with work, family responsibilities, financial challenges and health issues are common culprits which catalyze stress and anxiety symptoms that show up differently in each and every one of us.

Whilst many of us are becoming much better at identifying what can trigger us to feel these, we’re not always that great at recognizing our individual thresholds; we don’t know exactly how to calm down when the mental, emotional storms erupt.

We can almost see you eye-rolling upon hearing commonly recommended stress antidotes such as taking a bath, lighting candles or going for a walk. Let’s face it. These simply aren’t practical things you can do when you’re on a red-eye flight at 5:30am to run a full day of training interstate and then fly back the same evening not to mention juggling a young family.

You want to know your triggers, predict the impact of them and have your own suite of tools up your sleeve to calm down that impact for the long-term.

Doing a little ground work to gain a strong self-awareness of your likely reactions puts you smack bang in the pilot seat to develop a robust mental and emotional toolkit that will work wonders for you.

A few simple but well-practiced techniques may be all you need to simmer down the cyclonic intensity of emotions, and disparaging thoughts pecking away at your self-esteem and confidence. However, it’s important you do this self-reflective groundwork first to gain maximum impact for long-term effect.

1. Strengthen Familiarity with What Triggers You

When you have arguments with your loved one, do you stop and look to see if there are certain things you fight about? Are there certain behaviors they display that drive you bananas?

Take your focus off them and ask yourself: “What is my usual response?”

Perhaps you feel the anger welling up inside your chest and you then spurt out that you’ve told him or her ten times before to not leave their underwear lying across the bedroom floor.

Think a little deeper. Ask yourself what values, standards and expectations you have that are not being met here. You’ll likely be attached to certain ways you believe things should play out. Are there assumptions and expectations as to how you believe people should conduct themselves and principles about how you feel you should be treated?

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Having a strong attachment to these for yourself is one thing. Expecting others to have the same attachment is often what can make the hot water start simmering.

It is often when people behave in ways inconsistent with our belief systems and events unfold in discord with what we expect and are prepared for that we feel the most stress and anxiety.

Make a list of the common circumstances in different areas of your life that cause you to become anxious and stressed. Against each of these, describe your stress response:

What happens? What do you feel?

Now think about the values, principles and expectations you have attached to these. You’ll see you have a few options:

  • Change my values and expectations
  • Try to change other’s values and expectations
  • Recognize and be in allowance of others having different values, standards and expectations

Reviewing how you react when you’re stressed and anxious, and identifying which of these three options above is going to best serve you, can greatly increase your ability to feel and be in control of calming your reaction.

You move closer to being able to choose how you want to respond as opposed to feeling helpless and the world is spiralling out of control.

2. Have Coping Statements on Hand

When you have a washing machine of chaotic thoughts churning in your mind, trying to implant thoughts that are the complete opposite of what you’re thinking and feeling can be pretty hard.

Not being able to do it can also add another layer of us feeling disappointment in ourselves. We feel we’re failing.

Having coping statements that you can literally latch on to to help you calm down in those stressful and anxious moments, can be particularly helpful.

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Look at creating palm cards and just have three to five of these you can have in your pocket or in your purse. Here are 6 examples:

  • Even though I am feeling this right now, I am going to be alright
  • What I am feeling right now is uncomfortable. I won’t feel this way forever. Soon the intensity of what I am feeling will pass.
  • I’ve survived these feelings before. I can do it again.
  • I feel this way because of my past experiences but right now, I am actually safe.
  • It’s ok for me to feel this way. My body and brain are trying to protect me but I am actually safe right now.
  • Ah, here you are again, anxiety. Thanks for showing up to protect me, but I don’t need you right now.

Choose words and dialogue that feel true and accurate for you. Read the statements out to yourself and test how fitting they are for you. What feels more assuring, calming and right for you?

Make these statements your own. The aim is of these statements is to de-escalate the intensity of what you feel when you’re anxious and stressed.

Remember, you want to refrain from having blunt statements which feel or sound like they’re self-reprimanding because they won’t be pacifying in a positive way.

If you are unsure as to how to come up with statements that fit for you, look to work with a psychologist or licensed therapist to give you a strong start.

3. Identify and Develop Physical Anchors

You actually have within you resources to provide some of the most effective ways to calm yourself down in heightened moments you feel stressed and anxious. Renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Peter Levine and expert in treating stress and trauma, teaches us how techniques which do this, such as Somatic Experiencing®[1] can significantly help us calm down.

By learning to be fully present and applying touch to certain areas of your body (e.g. forehead and heart space), you increase your capacity to self-regulate. You also learn how to attend to and release your unique symptoms that your body has been containing in a way you have not been able to before.

Here’s one technique example:

  1. Get in a comfortable position
  2. Have your eyes open or closed, whatever feels most comfortable for you
  3. Now place one hand on your forehead, palm side flat against the skin
  4. Place the other hand, palm down across your heart space above your sternum… the flat of your chest area.
  5. Gently turn your attention to what you feel physically in the area between your two hands. Observe and just take notice of what you physically feel. Is your chest pounding? How strong are its beat and the rhythm? Do you notice any other sensations anywhere else between your two hands?
  6. Don’t try to push or resist what you’re feeling. Try to just sit with it and remain this way with your hands in place until you feel a shift, a physical one. It might take a little longer, so try to be patient.

You might feel a change in energy flow, a change in temperature or different, less intense sensations. Just keep your hands in place until you feel some kind of shift, even if gradual.

It might take you even 5 to 10 minutes but, riding this wave will help you to process what discomfort your body is containing. It will greatly help to release it so you gradually become calmer.

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Purely cognitive exercises can be tough at the outset. Learning somatic experience techniques is particularly helpful because you’re engaging in exercises where you physically can feel the difference. Feeling the changes helps you increase confidence you can control and reduce the discomfort you’re feeling. You’ll be motivated to keep practicing and improving this skill you can take anywhere, anytime.

4. Move and Get Physical

If you’re not one to exercise, you’re robbing yourself of some very easy ways which help you calm down and reduce stress and anxiety responses. Many neuro chemical changes take place when you engage in exercise.

At certain levels of physical exertion, your brain’s pituitary gland releases neurotransmitter endorphins. When they bind with certain opiate receptors in your brain, signals are transmuted throughout your nervous system to reduce feelings of pain and trigger feelings of euphoria. You might have heard the term ‘runner’s high’.

For the last 20 years, University of Missouri-Columbia’s Professor Richard Cox has conducted research showing that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective at reducing anxiety and stress levels than other forms of aerobic exercise.[2] However, if you would rather slay dragons than turn up an F45 class, it’s essential you still find something that will physically shift you and alter your current mental and emotional state of mind, even just a fraction to start with. It’s 100% ok if this is not your cup of tea.

So in a day full of back of back-to-back meetings, what can you do?

If you’re sitting, stand. Change your posture and open your body up. Have a suite of discrete stretches you can do regularly as you deepen and engage in diaphragmatic breathing.

If you’re looking down at your desk at work and feeling increasingly stressed, look up and change what you’re looking at. Give yourself more than a few moments to decompress.

The main thing is to change your disposition from the one you’re in when you are experiencing anxiety and stress symptoms. You’re shaking it up to calm it down.

5. Transform Your Unhelpful Inner Dialogue and Its Energy

Learning cognitive restructuring techniques can truly work wonders in helping you recognize and re-frame unhelpful dialogue and negative critical thinking patterns. This involves a little preparation being transparent with yourself about what exaggerated perspectives you might ascribe to what’s happening when you’re feeling stressed and anxious.

When you open your email inbox and see a flood of requests which require more time and energy you have for that day, dread starts to settle in and the following comes to mind: “This is impossible. How can they expect me to be able to do all this? It’s completely unreasonable!”

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Instantly, many other thoughts that reinforce this line of thinking as well as the emotional energy of your first conscious thought start unravelling. A 4-step process you can engage to calm the eruption is:

  1. Catch and notice that first thought you had. What was it? What did you think and/or say to yourself?
  2. Recognize that what you’re feeling and be in allowance of the initial intensity of whatever those emotions are.
  3. Breath deliberately a little more deeply and slowly for a few seconds.
  4. State to yourself: “Right now (in this moment) I’m feeling overwhelmed by this, however maybe I can look at what I can make good progress and headway with as a start from here on.”

Notice the language in step 4 is tentative, supportive, soft and not resistant nor defiant of what your original thought was. You accept your original thought, but gradually you become stronger at pivoting it.[3] You’re expanding your growth mindset language.

It’s definitely worth working with a coach or trained therapist to learn how to tailor re-framing statements which can truly help you calm down.

Final Thoughts

We know, in our minds what we should do. When we’re in the thick of experiencing mental and emotional turmoil, it’s actually harder to implement what we know. In those moments, you’re unlikely to have capacity to think about what you need to do, let alone do it effectively to help you feel calmer.

The key is to practice so that when the storm is brewing, your toolkit and supplies are in easy access. You already know your safety drill well.

Knowing you have strategies and prepared processes up your sleeves helps you not only become better at calming yourself in amongst currently stressful situations. You have more confidence now to face more anxiety-provoking stressors because you have developed the resources to handle it.

How you invest time and energy into getting to know your triggers and thresholds will influence how effective these strategies will work for you. We’re not denying relaxing baths or regular massages are helpful, however these band-aid-like solutions don’t really confront the root causes.

If you truly want to turn your experience of your stress and anxiety symptoms around, dig deeper, do the groundwork and that which rattled your cage will quickly become a thing of the past.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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