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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

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

Reference

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