Entrepreneurs often think of an asset as funding for their startup, talent that provides a competitive advantage, or proprietary technology that differentiates their offerings in products or services. A company may not realize that just as valuable as all other resources — if not, more — is time.
Time is a critical asset — augmented by time management skills.
Time is worth its weight in gold because it’s limited and hard to come by. Entrepreneurs need time to handle every aspect of their business and keep it on the right track. When an entrepreneur has time and uses it wisely, they can do extraordinary things.
The problem is that entrepreneurs struggle like everyone else with how to effectively manage their time.
An entrepreneur constantly runs out of time to complete the long list of work and personal tasks they set for themselves. Similarly, they cannot account for where all the time went in a day, week, or even year.
And, since you can’t add hours to the day or days to the week, you will have to find another way to bank more time for the more important things in your business and life. That’s where good time management skills come into play.
Here are nine tips to help improve your time management skills as an entrepreneur:
1. Set limits and boundaries.
While it’s good to be open, flexible, and accessible as an entrepreneur, it’s also important to say “no” and establish boundaries when it comes to the most precious asset known as time.
Don’t accept unplanned meetings or teleconferences that you know will just suck up your time. Set limits on planned calls and put a cap on daily and weekly meetings.
2. Leverage Business Process Management (BPM) for greater time efficiency.
Business Process Management (BPM) is another tactic that can help improve the use of time. According to Zahi Daniel, Founder of Adapt Solution, “BPM deployment tremendously enhances the time efficiency of the business processes. As the processes are being mapped and analyzed from start to finish, the tasks and process owners are notified automatically when they delegate responsibilities.”
Daniel’s adds, “A major contribution to time efficiency is the results of optimization and automation of the business processes. Those processes reduce redundancy and eliminate errors. Furthermore, all information is centralized, hence it is faster to allocate info and report when required.”
3. Maximize available technology.
Numerous tools have been created for the sole purpose of optimizing time. From virtual reality and video conferencing that saves physical trips to automated scheduling and bill payment to chatbots for customer service and support. These tools take care of time-consuming tasks for you.
4. Try productivity methods.
Many people have studied human behavior, use of time, and productivity levels to see if they could develop a hack to maximize tie use. One of these was Lee Ivy whose method has been used to prioritize tasks.
With the Ivy method, you need to make a list of six things to accomplish in a day and order them by priority. Stick to the first task on the list until it’s done before moving onto the next one.
When you get to the end of the day, you make a new six-task list for the next day and repeat the process. Now, there’s an app for that method that you can download and use instead of writing it out.
5. Prioritize and focus to work smarter.
You hear the word, “grind,” so much in connection with entrepreneurs. It’s admirable to work hard, and working hard is a needed skill — but a better approach is to also work smart. That means you need to work only on the value-adding activities in your business and let go of the rest.
Plus, you have a greater chance of getting significant results by focusing on those value-driven activities. For example, rather than handling supplies ordering, you could be finding and converting new customers, which yields greater revenues.
6. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
It’s understandable that you may not want to give out tasks that impact your business to others. After all, it is “your baby.” But, by keeping everything to yourself, you are not using your time wisely.
Relinquish that control over everything — especially the time-consuming stuff that just about anyone else can handle — and stick to what you do best as an entrepreneur.
Although you might initially use some money and time for training, tools, and communications, you’ll quickly win back considerably more time and money when you delegate tasks.
7. Learn on-demand.
Also referred to as Just-in-Time learning, this approach to time savings ensures you spend time learning, but your learning is done by doing the task, but only when it’s absolutely necessary to a company project or goal.
Although it is beneficial to have a continual learning spirit, you can get sucked into reading endless content about markets, technologies, and trends. If you have unstructured time, then you can do that.
In the meantime, focus on a strategy that has you tapping resources like YouTube videos, articles, or training resources when faced with a specific project that requires a knowledge or skills upgrade.
You’ll also learn the skill more quickly because the job is right before you — not a theory of what can go wrong. You see the problem — grab a YouTube or Google it — do the work. Done. That’s on-demand learning.
8. Stop overplanning and overthinking.
Waiting until you think something is perfect or you believe you know the outcome has the best of intentions. But, it is the worst use of time.
When you have done the research and have the information plus you have given it a thought, then you need to get started. Stop fussing over all the details and possible variables.
9. Revise. Rethink. Recharge.
Among all the effort you take with time management, know that making improvements with how you use time will be an ongoing process.
You will need to rethink and revise your approach. Most importantly, you will need to put time aside to recharge away from work so you can be mentally prepared to continue optimizing your available time to meet your business goal.
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.