If there’s one thing that all entrepreneur’s need, it’s more time in the day to accomplish everything they’d like to. Unfortunately, manipulating the rules of physics isn’t possible yet in this day and age. What entrepreneurs can control, however, is how they spend their time. While it’s easy to be “busy,” getting the important things done isn’t always easy or clear. Let’s take a look at effective techniques and methods to better manage your time and make your business thrive.
Just One Thing
Sometimes limitations are incredibly liberating. Ask yourself, “If I could only get one thing done today, what would it be?” While some tasks will “shout” louder to get your attention or try to seduce you with the ease in which you could accomplish them, the real test is to see which one is unavoidable.
Usually these will be deadline-oriented, but if you have no impending crisis to address, think of the one that will bring you closer to your goals. Without a specific goal in mind, it is just another entry on your to-do list.
Once you’ve selected that task, immediately get to working on it, reasonably ignoring all the other tasks until you are finished.
Begin the workday by creating a to-do list. Allow your mind to wander and meditate on certain idea. If you are building a website, think of all the necessary steps that need to be accomplished before and note those steps. If you have a previous day’s list, rewrite it in order of high-value tasks. High-value tasks are ones that increase revenue or are deadline-based. Often, an asterisk beside this to-do item is enough to draw your attention towards these types of tasks. Consider everything else to be low-priority until these tasks are complete or set in motion.
Determine How Things Get Done
While prioritizing is very important, you only have so much time and effort to expend from yourself. Try to determine whether tasks should be done personally, delegated to other employees (or outsourced), deferred for a later date, or if the task is even worth completing.
Delegating tasks that you could do yourself is important, especially if your team has a more efficient skills and the cost-benefit is worth it to you. For startups, this can be a trying situation, but come up with a hypothetical rate for your time—would $25 be enough to pay yourself for a two-hour task , or could that same task be paid to an employee (at a rate of $12.50/hr)?
As for deferred tasks, try to determine how important these task will be in the future. Would completing other tasks make those tasks obsolete? Sometimes, the passage of time and the change of our business’ focus can alter our perceptions towards once-critical tasks.
Dumped tasks require no effort, but do understand why you considered the task important at one point. Are these tasks endemic of a larger problem—perhaps it’s a fruitless app that’s been on the backburner that’s generating its own busywork.
Step Back and See the Whole Picture
During the course of your workday, take time to step away from your tasks and reevaluate your to-do list. Do any of those tasks seem to hold the same weight as before? Is the task you’re working on still the most important or can it be set aside? For instance, if you’ve been chipping away at content for your website, but suddenly realise that banks will be closed all weekend, shift your focus to the immediate.
Reward Yourself With Ease
If you’ve been working on difficult tasks all day that drain you of motivation because they aren’t close to a satisfying completion, try to break up the task into smaller tasks. Reward yourself by finishing the task up to a certain point, then move on to a relatively simple task. The feeling of accomplishment can reinvigorate your drive, helping you complete the task you originally set aside. If you feel that even normally easy-to-finish tasks are difficult to finish, then reward yourself with a break.
A jack of all trades is a master of none. Multitasking tasks dilutes your focus, sometimes allowing nothing to be accomplished. Worse, you can only be finishing tasks in a mediocre fashion, confusing the quantity of your effort to outweigh the quality of your actions. It is an ineffective strategy. Adhere to a strategy of fixating on one task until it is completed is inifinitely better than to get three that are slapdash and reflect poorly on your skills.
Cashflow Above All
Cashflow is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. Without a fully-functioning circulation of money in your business, things like payroll, invoicing, and the supply chain will begin to misfire, compounding your problems while you hemorrhage valuable time by “fire-fighting” each crisis. To ensure that cashflow is the least of your problems, read our article on cashflow mistakes that can ruin your start-up.
Bite the Bullet
New entrepreneurs have the tendency to get the easy things finished first, while avoiding—even subconsciously—the more difficult though essential tasks until the last minute. This can create a backlog of procrastinated panic, leading to rushjobs, all-nighters, and other unnecessary waste of resources.