Saying that you’re a busy entrepreneur is a bit redundant. Is like saying the fire is hot, or the water is wet. Nobody thinks that you are lying on your couch all day long, relaxing and mindlessly scrolling on social media. That’s not the image that often gets associated with entrepreneurs. Of course you are busy; it’s part of the job description. You knew that from the very beginning, and it didn’t stop you from going down this path.
However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to reduce your workload and become less busy, while also maintaining the same level of productivity. But is that even achievable? If you were to analyse a few success stories, you’ll realise it is very much possible. Being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t mean working yourself to the point of burnout, or completely neglecting your personal life. It’s about working smarter, not harder. It all boils down to the quality over quantity debate – instead of counting the hours you’ve worked, focus on what you’ve managed to accomplish over a certain period of time.
Also, keep in mind it’s absolutely essential to make time to take care of yourself – to eat, sleep, exercise, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life – if you want to function properly and reach your full potential. You can run a thriving business and achieve a good work-life balance, as long as you know how to manage your time properly. So, here are a few tips and strategies that can turn you from a busy entrepreneur into an effective entrepreneur.
Start every day with a plan
Juggling multiple tasks and making sure everything gets done on time requires more than a good memory – it requires proper planning. Playing it by ear and hoping for the best is not exactly the best strategy if you want to stay on top of your daily tasks and use your time more efficiently. You’re only human, after all, and your memory can fail you, or your improvisation skills might not be as sharp as you think them to be.
Starting each day with a plan can eliminate chaos in your routine and keep you organised when you have a million things to do and you’re on a tight schedule. Organise your to-dos by order of importance and urgency, and allocate just enough time to complete each task. However, don’t expect things to work out as planned all the time. You have to take unexpected changes into consideration and plan for the unknown. That means having a plan B in case plan A fails, so you can continue your work unbothered by the challenges and changes that might come up.
Use technology to your advantage
Spending hours upon hours working won’t bring you any real benefits if you don’t get the desired results unless your goal is to get a badge of honour for the effort you put in. But since the whole point is to achieve more with less effort, you should turn to technology and automation for support.
In the modern age we live in, doing things manually and relying on outdated work methods can make you lose precious time and have you struggling to keep productivity levels up. Fortunately, tech advances give you the possibility to automate repetitive tasks, so you can get things done quickly and efficiently, and focus more on complex matters that require your personal input and attention. For every task and activity that you have to perform, there’s software or an app that can help you out. If you want to save time on managing your accounts, you can use online software for accounting, and manage your business finances with ease. For effective communication, you have plenty of video conferencing and collaboration tools available. For proper organisation, you can employ a scheduling tool or a project management app, and so on.
Forget about multitasking
Although multitasking has been praised for years as being a superpower that all entrepreneurs are expected to develop, recent research has shown that it’s nothing more than a myth. Performing multiple tasks at the same time, as multitasking has been defined, won’t help you achieve more in a shorter amount of time. If anything, throwing too many balls in the air will lead to higher stress levels and poor results, as your brain tries to compete with itself for which tasks to focus on. In the end, you’ll be spending more time on every given task, thus efficiency and productivity will be greatly hindered.
A much smarter strategy that doesn’t work against you is the Pomodoro Technique. This strategy implies working in time blocks – you must focus on each task individually and allocate no more than 25 minutes to work on it. After the time runs out, you have to take a short break. Then you can start working for another 25 minutes to finish the task or move on to a new one if you’ve already completed it. And you can repeat the cycle until you check all the items on your to-do list.
We’ve already touched briefly on how not all tasks have the same level of importance and urgency, although it might seem to you that way. It’s important to learn how to prioritise them but it’s even more important to know how to delegate. Because you’re only one person and can’t take on the whole workload that comes with running a business.
That’s why you have team members and employees working alongside you – to handle routine tasks that don’t really need your attention or jobs requiring specialised skills that you might not possess. Not only will this help you free up your schedule, but if you delegate the right tasks to the right individuals, chances are these actions will be performed at a higher level.
The strategies we’ve listed above can help you make every minute you spend working matter. But in the end, it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to manage your time. As an entrepreneur, you have the flexibility and freedom to tailor your schedule as you see fit, so the ball is in your court.