I keep talking about the hustle of entrepreneurship, and I’m sure many of you may envision me standing around telling everyone I work with to keep hustling. I’ve of course used that term when I’m with my three boys or coaching soccer, but for the most part I keep this out of my daily vocabulary mostly because I think my colleagues are just tired of my saying it.
So, how do I keep hustling while managing my time so that I don’t run myself into the ground, or miss important meetings and opportunities?
It’s no secret that most entrepreneurs are trying to squeeze every bit of productivity out of the day that we can. We also know that there’s just no way that we’re just going to magically create more hours in the day, or can we actually make that happen?
Maybe you’ve taken an opportunity to attend a time management class or read a few books or blogs on this very topic.
I admit using technology in most aspects of my business, but regardless of all of the apps and gadgets we all surround ourselves with to help keep us stay on track, we’re still not getting everything done.
In this episode I take a deeper look into your calendar, and discuss a few tips that may keep you on track, but do keep in mind that as an entrepreneur, you’ll likely be interrupted or pulled in different directions throughout the day.
Interruptions are going to happen, but the time spent on those interruptions is going to be up to you.
Implementing the techniques will help you manage your time a little better:
1. First, let’s look at what you’re actually doing throughout the day. Now this may require you to have an app on your phone, or you may rely on that pen and paper, but take a calendar with you for a full week and record everything you do during that day. Everything?
Yes, everything you do in your day leading up to work and right before you go to bed. This will give you some perspective on what it is you’re actually spending time doing, and also allow you to assess for time spent doing unproductive tasks. Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it.
2. Next, find a tool that’s going to keep your schedule documented. You can stick with an actual calendar book like Franklin Covey, or use a piece of technology that is easily manageable and accessible like Google Calendar or Apple’s Calendar app. I’ll review some apps on another show, but do try to find something that works for you.
3. Now after that first week or so and you’re now starting to dial in on an actual schedule, make it a priority at the beginning of each day to actually look at your schedule and nail down a plan. If you can even invest 15-30 minutes during this time you could really find yourself getting a much better return on that time by the end of your day. This can also be an opportunity to really assess what it is that you’re trying to achieve from each task or appointment that’s scheduled, whether in person or on the phone.
4. Try to keep a buffer in between meetings just in case they may run over, however I’d recommend not making a habit of letting meetings go longer than scheduled as this is a pattern where you’ll find yourself in the weeds pretty quickly. If you know your day is jammed back to back, then let your client know right from the outset that your meeting with them is important, but do communicate that you’ve got a “hard stop at 2PM” so that you can make your next meeting.
5. If you are finding yourself ahead of schedule, take a look at some of the tasks that you may be able to rearrange on your schedule to get them off your plate. Not only can this help you get ahead, but it can also create a buffer for those interruptions that may pop up.
6. Don’t always feel compelled to answer every call or email that comes in at that moment, especially if you’re already in the middle of a meeting with a client or working on a project. Now of course I realize that there are certain calls you may have to take at that time, but just make sure to prioritize what calls may need your attention at that moment.
7. Social media can be a great marketing tool for your business, but it can also be a huge distraction.
Block out time on your daily schedule to catch up on social media. I’d recommend blocking out time at the beginning, middle, and end of the day. No matter how much your phone is beeping and buzzing throughout the day because of those social media apps, stick to your allotted times for social media engagement. There are some great tools to keep all of that engagement happening in one place, and we love what Hootsuite has to offer.
8. If there’s a task or a project that you really need to get done and you’re working in an environment where office distractions can occur, then don’t be shy about telling your colleagues you’re in the middle of something and that you’ll reconvene with them at a later time. If you’ve got an office door, then close it and don’t open it up until you’re ready to welcome some of those other “distractions.”
9. Delegate tasks that you just don’t have time to do, or have any desire to perform. This may be difficult from a financial standpoint as a newly minted entrepreneur without staff to pass tasks off to, but as your business grows this will be a skill set that you’ll need to hone.
10. Schedule time with your most important asset of your business. You! I realize that things have to get done and you just want to plow through all of those tasks, but taking time out for yourself throughout the day may just give you the mental boost you need to sustain that breakneck pace of yours. Set an appointment on your calendar for yourself and hold to it just like you would with a client or project.
This time can be used for a walk or some other exercise, a phone call with a loved one, or a quick nap. Yes, I was just reading an article about the power nap and every now and again I get a chance to take advantage of one of these and it’s quite refreshing.
Try to keep in mind that it’s still going to be challenging to get everything completed. For all of those tasks that didn’t get done today, invest a little time in re-evaluating those tasks, and if they’re still necessary, then find open slots in your schedule where they can be completed.
What tricks are you utilizing to manage your time?
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