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7 Indispensable Time-Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

7 Indispensable Time-Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

Are you an entrepreneur who finds that they aren’t getting enough done in a single work day? It’s not unusual to find yourself behind the eight ball when you are trying to accomplish so much in a given day. The key to getting it together is improving your time-management skills. Check out these time management tips; before you know it, your efficiency and productivity will increase immensely.

1. Invest in building quality business systems.

One of the best and most overlooked methods of saving time is to avoid spending your day putting out fires. You can do this by investing the time and money up front to have quality business systems and procedures in place. This upfront investment, in essence, creates the infrastructure on which your business runs. You do this by establishing quality control methodologies, implementing appropriate training programs, investing in good technology, and setting up procedures for accomplishing both mission and non-mission critical tasks.

Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs focus on doing these things because there is not an immediate positive impact on the bottom line. Establishing quality business systems also doesn’t have a direct impact on growth — at least, that’s how many startup owners see things. In truth, once the initial investment has been made, the efficiency and streamlining that results can keep costs down and allow your team to focus on sales, growth, and research and development.

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2. Know when to delegate and outsource for faster growth.

Many entrepreneurs are more than used to wearing more than one hat. That’s great for when things are just getting started and funds aren’t available to hire staff or bring on consultants and vendors. Unfortunately, jumping into any role when a need arises no longer becomes an efficient use of your time once a certain level of growth has been achieved. This is something that many entrepreneurs never fully grasp. Instead, they see it as a point of pride that they are able to jump in and save the day.

There are some problems with this. First of all, just because you sit at the helm of your ship doesn’t mean that you have the talent and experience needed to get every job done that needs to be done. You’ve hired people, hopefully, because they are better and smarter than you in their area of expertise. Delegate out to them, and then let them do the jobs you have hired them to do. This leaves more time for you to focus on leadership, sales, and planning.

3. Long-term planning is essential to keep your current focus sharp.

Once you do learn how to delegate, you will find yourself free to focus on planning. This is great, but it brings up the next issue when it comes to effective time management: don’t spend too much time focusing on short-term planning. Instead, keep your eyes on the future.

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How does this help with time management? When you engage in long-term planning, you force yourself to keep your focus on the activities that need to be done to meet those long-term goals. As a result, you will be less likely to get caught up in busy work or time-wasting activities. Your mind will be too laser focused on working on tasks that will lead up to the long-term goals that you set. Remember that making plans required for scaling your business and making the most of your time will lead to growth.

4. Eliminate the common time-wasting habits.

Constantly checking social media, jumping in and out of your inbox, running to the break room for more coffee or water, “checking up on everyone’s progress,” checking fantasy league stats and scores, etc. are all examples of the common, time-wasting habits that absolutely destroy efficiency. Create personal policies for yourself that eliminate these time-wasting habits so that you can make better use of your time.

Here are a few things to try:

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  • If a website is too tempting, consider buying an app to block it during working hours
  • Check your email three times each day only
  • Buy a bigger coffee mug or water bottle
  • Give yourself 20 minutes during the work day to spend in the internet rabbit hole
  • Use email to check up on staffers or trust them to come to you if your intervention is needed
  • Make a list of “Things to do When There is Nothing to do.” Then, when you are bored work on that list

5. Set up airplane days.

No, an airplane day is not a day that is created to celebrate those large miracles of aerospace engineering. An airplane day is simply a day where you switch your phone into airplane mode so that notifications, texts, and phone calls are all blocked. Planning airplane days is a great way to ensure that you have the time to accomplish the kind of pen to paper, heads down tasks that are difficult to tackle when you are dealing with a constant influx of electronic disruptions.

Of course, as the boss, you cannot simply flip your phone into airplane mode. You have to plan for these things. Let your people know in plenty of time that you will be spending a day out of communications range, and be sure that you designate a go-to person in your absence. Then, enjoy a day of catching up on tasks and getting things cleared off of your desk.

6. Prioritize till it hurts.

Almost everybody could benefit from taking a scalpel to their daily to-do list. This is truer for entrepreneurs than anybody else. Don’t just create lists of things to do. Sort that list into priorities and do it ruthlessly. Start off by creating the list of things that must be accomplished today in order to avoid creating fires that will have to be managed and mitigated later on. Those are the highest-priority tasks, and they should get your primary focus. Then, create a list of mission critical tasks. These should be tasks that need to be accomplished that work toward the goals of sales, growth, or development. It is only after these goals are accomplished should you focus on lower priority goals such as administrivia.

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7. Schedule downtime too.

An entrepreneur on the brink of burnout is very unlikely to be able to make good use of their time. This is why the final tip on this list is to schedule downtime. Both your mind and body need rest, relaxation, stimulation, and fun to function properly. So, pursue hobbies, take vacations, meditate, and read. Take a lunch break. Know when it’s time to “punch your card” at the end of the day and get some rest.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on August 3, 2020

How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

With all the inputs, information, and clutter that come into our lives today, just staying on top of it all creates so much stress and frustration, and it can often lead to feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Most of the time, you simply don’t know where to start when you want to learn how to be organized.

However, it is, in fact, something that can be learned.

By developing a few strategies and methods, and having a system in place that quickly deals with all these inputs, you can finally get control of your clutter and, more importantly, stay clutter-free.

Here are a few rules that can help you on your path to a clutter-free life.

1. Don’t Use Your Computer’s Desktop for Storage

Your computer’s desktop was not designed to store your files. Your desktop should be clean and file free. Not only does a cluttered desktop slow down your computer, but it also makes finding things painfully slow.

Instead, as you’re learning how to be organized, create a basic folder structure inside your documents folder. Now, this needs to work for you, but try not to make things too complicated. What you can do is think about the kind of files you will need to keep, and categorize them between your personal and professional ones. For me, I have two basics folders inside my documents folder, one called “work” and one called “personal.” Inside of these, I have subfolders organized according to my different roles or categories.

It’s simple, and it allows me to quickly find what I need when I need it.

Now, I do understand that during the day, when you are doing your work, you may need quick access to certain images and files, and it’s okay to hold them on your desktop temporarily. However, make it a habit to clear your desktop at the end of each day as part of your closing down routine (more on that later).

2. Learn to Use Your Computer’s Search Features

It surprises me how few people know how to find documents on their computer with a simple keyboard shortcut, but it’s one of the easiest things to do as you’re learning how to be organized. On a Mac, for instance, CMD + Space bar brings up the spotlight search, and you can type in a date, a file type, a keyword, or a file name.

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On a Windows computer[1], open the start button, and begin typing the file you are looking for.

In both cases, you do not need the exact name of the file. Just type a few letters, and within seconds you have the file you need.

When you learn how useful your computer’s search features are, you will be much more comfortable removing all those files scattered around on your desktop and putting them in an appropriate folder on your computer.

3. Keep Your Desk Clear of Clutter

Just as with your computer’s desktop, your desk’s desktop should also be file and clutter-free. Use your drawers for those paper documents that habitually hang around on your desk—a cluttered desk does not encourage inspired work[2].

Also, take a look at your workspace, and ask if what is on your desk is necessary. Often, we have stuff on our desks that serve no meaning and has no sentimental value to us. It’s just something we have always had on our desk. If you don’t need it or it does not inspire you, remove it.

And while we are talking about your desk, make a decision this week that you will go through your desk drawers and clear out all the old pens, cups, and other debris that has accumulated over the years. Trust me on this one, the act of cleaning out your drawers and removing all the clutter on your desk will give you renewed energy and ignite a lot of creativity that has been pushed into the background. You will love working at your desk again.

Pictures of your loved ones and a few inspiring mementos are fine. Just don’t go crazy with them. Keep them to a minimum.

4. Create a Closing Down Routine

This is such a great way to make sure you keep your files and other stuff organized, so make it an essential skill to adopt when learning how to be organized. Give yourself ten to twenty minutes before you finish your work for the day to clean up your desktops.

Move your files to their rightful place, and delete anything you no longer need. I often accumulate a lot of screenshots throughout the day, and if I am not removing them, at the end of the day, they soon start building up.

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Before I shut my computer down for the day, I clean these up, delete the screenshots if I no longer need them, and leave my desktop file free. It’s a beautiful way to start the next day with a clean desk and a clean computer desktop.

5. Incorporate a To-Do List Manager Into Your Life

Writing your to-dos and commitments down on post-it notes just encourages clutter. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to stick these to your computer so you don’t forget things, but over time you become numb to them. They just become a part of your desk, and you ignore them.

Remove them. Take your tasks and commitments, and put them into a to-do list manager. Whether you use Windows or Mac, they both come with to-do list managers. Make good use of them.

You do not need to create an elaborate to-do list structure. All you need is an inbox for quick entry and the ability to date tasks for when they need doing.

I use a simple structure in my to-do list manager. I use a system I call the Time Sector System[3] where I create six folders:

  • Inbox
  • This week
  • Next week
  • This month
  • Next month
  • Long-term / On-hold

Then, whatever I collect, the only decision I need to make is: when am I going to do the task? I can then drop the task into its relevant folder.

One of the biggest causes of clutter on desks (and in bags) are all those little bits of paper you use to write down critical information and telephone numbers or email addresses. When these accumulate, they are easy to lose, and you waste a lot of time searching for them.

Use your digital devices for these. You can take a photo of a written note. You can quickly add a telephone number or an email address into your to-do list manager (or notes app), and if you have syncing set up between your devices, you will have access to the information on all your devices. And what’s more, it will be searchable.

6. Set a Weekly Time to Declutter Your Devices

This is an area that can quickly creep up on you, so take time to develop this habit as you’re learning how to be organized. Taking photos and videos on our phones is too easy these days. We take a picture, and we just leave it in our photo album.

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Over time we end up with thousands of photos in our electronic photo albums that are not worth keeping. I spend around ten minutes on the weekend (usually Sunday evening) deleting all the images I no longer want to keep. It keeps my digital storage needs down—which saves money—and it means all the photos in my photo album are photos I want to keep.

I do the same with my downloads folder. We often download a PDF intending to read it later, and then we completely forget about it. As time passes, we end up with hundreds of PDFs and other documents we are no longer interested in or no longer need. Delete them or file them. Just don’t leave them in your downloads folder.

If you want to stay clutter-free, this habit will reward you. Doing this weekly means you will spend around thirty minutes each week cleaning up and filing. Not doing so means you will end up having to spend a day or two just dealing everything, which will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted those days.

7. Do an Annual Clean-up

One of my annual rituals is to clean out all my folders and notes. I take a day off from work and spend the day going through everything on my computer and delete anything that no longer has any value.

I choose the winter holidays for this. Not only is it the end of the year, but many companies are on holiday, and things are generally quieter.

I go through all my work and personal folders and clean out anything I no longer need. I also archive a lot of files onto an external hard drive—just in case they are needed later.

It’s also a good time to clear out your email folders, too. Email can become a bottomless pit of emails you no longer need. Go through and purge those. You will feel so much better when you do this.

With email, you can also declare yourself email bankrupt and just delete everything in your inbox (or if you are not comfortable doing that, declare a ‘soft’ email bankruptcy and you move all your emails into a folder called “Old Inbox”).

Doing this might seem like a radical step, but it is incredible how much clearer you become. You get to see what you have been holding on to, what you may have missed, and you find yourself with a lot more space ready for the year to come.

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8. Do a Little, Often

I learned this a long time ago. Many years ago, I tried becoming a salesperson. I failed miserably at it, but during my training, I shadowed an experienced colleague. On one of the days I was shadowing her, she had to complete and file her expense report for the month.

I vividly remember her opening the glovebox of her car and pulling out handfuls of receipts and then painstakingly adding them to an expense report—we did things on paper in those days. Four hours later, she finally finished the report.

I remember at the time thinking this was not a great way to do this. When I got my chance to go solo, I began stopping my car in a car-park on the way home and added that day’s expenses to my expenses sheet. It took me a few minutes, and as I was doing it on the same day, I remembered exactly what each receipt was for.

When you’re learning how to be organized, you can use this principle for almost everything. Clear out your email inbox every day, delete screenshots from your desktop and empty your bag at the end of the week, and throw away anything you no longer need.

Doing a little often makes things so much easier, and you do not have that mental backlog creeping up on you where you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind telling you you have to do something—only you can’t remember what that something is.

Final Thoughts

If it doesn’t come naturally to you, learning how to be organized can take time and effort, but it’s ultimately worth it. Becoming clutter-free helps you in so many ways. You have a more pleasant work environment, and de-cluttering your environment also helps to declutter your mind. On top of that, finding stuff is easier, and that means your overall productivity goes through the roof. Choose the strategies above that will help you in your daily life and start getting your life organized today.

More Tips on How to Be Organized

Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via unsplash.com

Reference

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