It is often said that time management is actually life management.
But for an entrepreneur, his business is his life, and he simply cannot afford to waste even a fraction of that. If that entrepreneur is the founder of a startup, then the issue of time management becomes more complicated – he will have to manage sales, marketing, operations, customer service and even HR.
There are only 24 hours in a day, and it comes imperative for the entrepreneur to optimally utilize his time, in order to achieve maximum productivity.
Do you feel overwhelmed with tasks sometimes, and wish that this vicious cycle ends? Are you avoiding spending time with your family, or eating because you feel that these are ‘inconveniences’? Every night, when you go to sleep (rather reluctantly), do you feel that nothing was accomplished?
If your answer is yes, then you are in desperate need for some time management solutions; and multi-tasking is certainly not one of them.
But.. What Exactly Is Time?
Before we discuss the golden rules of time management for the busy entrepreneur, let us ponder over the very concept of time.
There are basically two forms of time: Clock time and Real time, and it is very important to distinguish between these two, if you really want to manage your ‘time’ optimally.
Clock time is the time which has been invented by human beings, to manage the world affairs in an orderly way. Clock is the platform using which the clock time is managed, and in some level, it is crucial as well. The clock time is divided into years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds, and its rules are uniform – whether it is the London Airport or the railway station at Junagarh.
For all practical purposes, when a person turns 45, then he is 45 years old, be it any part of the world. Clock time is mechanical, a necessity for the world to operate.
The other form of time is Real Time, and this is relative to your actual life. Time spent with your business operations flies away, meanwhile time spent at a boring party just drags on.
What does it mean? This means that Real Time is the actual time which you need to manage, not the clock time. There exist tons of apps, tools and ‘systems’ which assures you of managing your clock time, but that doesn’t cut the cookie.
If you are able to manage and optimize the Real Time, then the problem is solved. Clock time is automatically managed, and everything falls into place.
But what is the problem then?
The problem is, Real Time is mental. Instead of seconds, the Real Time operates based on your own mental state. And this is the reason, clock time is irrelevant, on some levels.
Having cleared the concept of time, here are the 3 golden rules for time management:
Rule #1: Set Your Goals Right
It all begins with your attitude towards time management, and the first rule is that, understand what your goals really are.
Why are you doing a business, instead of working as an employee? Why are you spending those golden hours pondering over excel sheets with infinite tabs? Why are you not attending your own kid’s birthday party, and meeting a new client?
What is the most important thing in your life right now?
If your business is more important than your family, then it is perfectly fine. You shouldn’t complain.
But if you are complaining, then it means that something is wrong. Maybe you are doing the business to give a better life to your family, and not the vice versa.
If family is more important to you, then mark a line between professional and personal life. Create goals in life, and 50% of your time management problem is instantly solved.
Rule #2: Break Down The Goals Into Smaller Tasks
Once the goals are defined, then break down the goals into smaller, doable tasks. You can create a to-do list, or use a time management app, or simply make the list in your mind.
Creating smaller tasks simplify the process of accomplishing your goals, and indirectly inspire you to do more. Once a smaller task is over, the brain will release a hormone called dopamine, which will further push you to complete even smaller tasks.
And soon, the bigger goal would be achieved. Set a time limit for every smaller task, and stick to it.
Rule #3: Set-up a Prioritization System
Stephen Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”. And this summarizes the importance of prioritizing.
The catch is that priorities can only be created when you are aware of the goals, and when you know how to achieve those goals.
If bringing in more social media traffic to your new website is one of your goals, then daily posting on Facebook is one of the crucial tasks for you. In the middle of the day, when you receive a call from a vendor asking for a meeting, then you know which task is more important.
If the meeting is not conducted, will your business suffer? Or if you avoid posting on Facebook for a day, will your strategy regarding social media traffic disrupt?
If you have got a prioritization scheme, then the workings can become easier, and more smooth. You would be aware, precisely at which point of ‘time’ you need to perform which operation.
In this case, if social media is more important, then that meeting can be done via video conferencing, and you can save tons of time.
The option, always lies with you. It is the choices we make which determines our destiny.
Bonus Tactics for Time Management:
Disclaimer: These bonus tactics can only work once you follow these three golden rules, stated above.
1) Always start with a simple, doable task, which takes less time. Start small, but scale fast.
2) Create a monthly, weekly and daily to-do list, to help you with prioritization. This will help you to get the ‘bigger picture’
3) Measure your time, and what ROI you are getting from your time.
4) Take small breaks regularly to keep your focus laser sharp.
5) Use delegation as an effective tool and strategy. Remember, being an entrepreneur, you cannot do everything in this world. Teamwork is important for your business, and for your time management.
6) Avoid face to face meetings, unless extremely important. Such meetings such away most of the time.
7) Avoid the trap of checking your emails every 5 minutes. And replying to unnecessary emails and social media notifications can wait. Your priority is more important.
8) Before you go to sleep, make a brief plan for the next day. This will help your mind to subconsciously create the blueprint of your ‘real time’, next day.
The real art and science of time management is to remember that your time in this world is limited. Make most of it!