Time management for entrepreneurs is always a challenge. Everyone wants a piece of you, and there is never enough of you to go around. Most of the time, not only are you trying to run a business, but you’re also managing a family, kids, pets, friends, outside activities. Your office never closes, and your plate is always full. Entrepreneurs need time management tricks that are as flexible as their schedules. Here are just a few:
1) Get organized. Have things packed and ready to go – for anyone depending on you and for yourself. Keep a calendar where you can note all of your appointments and commitments, for your personal life and your business.
2) Stick to a routine. Set your work hours each day and know yourself: if you’re a morning person, schedule your biggest tasks for first thing in the morning, and vice versa. Make a to-do list before you go to bed. Include in your schedule one-on-one time with your family in which you spend at least 20 minutes a day offering them your undivided attention. Your routine can also include a chore rotation for household tasks, a dinner menu, and personal time.
3) Prioritize and delegate. Rather than running from one responsibility to another, pare down your to-do list. Schedule in the most important tasks and delegate the rest.
Take the time to break down household chores into manageable tasks. You might even consider “outsourcing” tasks to a house cleaner. That might sound expensive, but weigh the costs versus the benefits: if you enjoy your work and earn more money if you spend more time at it, why not hire someone to do the tasks you don’t enjoy?
4) Just say no. Some say that the word “no” is the crucial key to effective time management. We need to be available for our family and friends, but we don’t have to be available to everyone. Chairing a fundraiser or spending hours making home-made snacks for the school Valentine party is optional.
When someone calls and asks for help, ask them to let you think it over. Then ask yourself if you really want to help, and whether you have enough time in your schedule to do so. You cannot do a good job at anything if you spread yourself too thin.
5) Multi-task judiciously. Multi-tasking sounds like the ultimate solution to time management, but if your attention is divided among too many tasks, your stress level can escalate quickly. When multi-tasking, pair mindless tasks with ones that require more focus. For example, you can make business calls while you take your daily walk. But if this makes you feel more flustered than focused, pull back to completing one task at a time.
6) Be flexible. Build time in your schedule for the unexpected – a sick pet, toddler tantrums, etc.- and have some backup plans ready. That way, one hiccough in your schedule will not throw off your whole day or even week.
7) Take care of yourself. Get adequate rest, eat well, and spend 20+ minutes a day exercising. Regular exercise can actually save you time, because you’ll feel more energized and productive throughout the day, and you may even need less sleep at night. A healthy diet and good rest can likewise keep you focused and organized. Taking care of yourself will ensure that you’re always at your best – in all of the roles that you play.