Who else wants to get more done, in less time, with less stress? As a solo entrepreneur it often seems like everything and everyone demands your attention all at once. Managing how you spend your time on a day-to-day basis and also increasing the amount of productive time you have, are the keys your productivity, health and quality of life.
Time Management Strategy #1
The best place to start managing time better is with yourself! Time management problems are often caused by overwhelm. Often what happens is that an entrepreneur will start a task, get overwhelmed, put it on the back burner and then either start it again at a later time or ignore the task until a deadline is missed or a crisis emerges.
A lot of precious time is wasted this way. Each time you go back to an unfinished task, you need to take extra time to re-familiarize yourself with it and figure out where you left off. If you miss a deadline or a crisis emerges this means you will have to play “catch up” and work more hours.
A strategy to overcome overwhelm is to break up the task into smaller pieces and tackle them one by one. Also, set deadlines for completing each piece. Block out time in your calendar and stick to your schedule. If you don’t have the expertise for the project or you hate doing it why not give the job to someone who has the know-how and actually loves doing it?
Time Management Strategy # 2
Work in an organized work environment. Is your office cluttered and disorganized? How much time have you wasted looking for paperwork? The Wall Street Journal reported in a survey they had done that the average white collar worker spends 6 weeks a year looking for paperwork! Most people have paper clutter because they don’t have a systematic way of handling their paper flow. They need papers to remind them to do things or as a way of organizing projects. To manage your time effectively you need to create a filing system where you can quickly and easily file and access information when you need it.
Time Management Strategy # 3
Plan and structure your work week in your calendar. A system that has worked well for me is scheduling Rest Days, Income-Generating Days and Business Development Days. You set aside time for yourself first by scheduling Rest Days. On these days you are free to do anything except work related tasks. This is the time you need to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. Next, schedule your Business Development days where you will work ON your business. Focus on your the operations of your business – marketing, finances, administration, personnel, sales etc. Whatever days you have left of the week are Income-Generating Days or “billable time”, working IN your business. Note that without Business Development days you won’t have any Income-Generating Days! Set as many (or as few of these days) as you like each week, as long as the total adds up to 7 for a full week.
Within each day, I schedule some time for unexpected things that come up that are urgent and demand my immediate attention. Life does happen so by planning ahead to accommodate this, I’m usually ok and able to stay on track.
Time Management Strategy # 4
Focus only on what you do best. Apply Pareto’s 80/20 rule which states that that 20 percent of your activities produce 80 percent of your results. Track and examine how you spend your time in a typical week. What do you enjoy doing? What do you do well? What do you dislike doing? What things aren’t you doing well? You will discover that the things you enjoy doing are your unique strengths and that add the greatest value to your business. Eliminate or delegate everything else. The # 1 reason for business failure which accounts for 61% of failures, according to Dun & Bradstreet, is Managerial Incompetence defined as “the skillful use of resources to accomplish a purpose”. Harness the real power of leverage when you tap into other people’s time and skills. You have the power to double your productivity and eliminate time wasters but are you using it?
Time Management Strategy # 5
Systemize and automate routine and repetitive tasks to save time. Michael Gerber, author of the “E-Myth” tells us to make our companies “system dependent, not people dependent”. What this means is that systems run the business and people run the systems. Dr. Edwards Deming, a statistician who revolutionized American business practices, tells us that 97% of all failure is due to the SYSTEM and not the person. All successful businesses have systems. To systemize the first step is to figure out the activities that are routine to your business. Common activities include invoicing, client intake, managing emails, scheduling, managing paperwork, marketing and sales activities. Also, examine ways in which you can use technology to automate your systems.
By using these strategies I guarantee that you will recapture hours of wasted time and redirect your time to more productive use. Not only will your daily productivity increase but also the quality of your life – I think that’s why many solo entrepreneurs went into business in the first place!