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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 September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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