Where does all the time go? Long hours. Late nights. Snatched lunches. Some people boast about their overwhelming work schedule as if it’s a badge of honor: “I start work at 7 a.m. and work right through 8 p.m.” Often, their Herculean claims border on the absurd. “Last night, I went to bed at 3 a.m. and got up two hours later to finish a report.”
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often find themselves in a time crunch because they burden themselves with too many obligations. To find genuine success and job satisfaction, allocate your time to what matters most.
To be a successful entrepreneur with a positive work-life balance and less stress, create a schedule that works for you and your business.
Entrepreneurs are responsible for myriad aspects of starting a business, such as creating a business plan, writing a marketing plan, creating a successful hiring process, and managing finances. If you’re overwhelmed, you’re more likely to overlook critical tasks and miss deadlines.
“As an entrepreneur, more than any other role, you have limited time to accomplish a never-ending list of tasks and to-dos,” said Felipe Zambrano, vice president of Avatrade Marketplace. “As a result, it’s critical to organize your time in order to be the most effective and move your company faster.”
For the health of their business – and their personal well-being – entrepreneurs must get a handle on what needs to get done when it needs to happen, and to whom they can delegate.
“You only have so much time during your day to get things done,” said Forrest McCall, owner of an entrepreneurship blog Don’t Work Another Day. “By wasting time on tasks that do not yield results in growth for your business, you might find your business stagnant. By prioritizing tasks with the highest return on investment, your business can see tremendous growth.”
Take a systematic approach to organizing your tasks and managing your time. This ensures that critical business elements get addressed and that your time is well spent. Rank your responsibilities and plan your week accordingly.
Improving productivity means spending time on the right things, starting with planning. Follow these four tips for success:
To spend more time on your high priorities, plan for them. The sweet spot for general planning is about 2.5 hours per week, or 10 sessions of 15 minutes each. More time than that might not yield any extra impact on results.
Here’s how to plan your week:
Digital and mobile task-management tools help entrepreneurs stay on track. Here are a few of our favorites.
McCall uses Notion to create a task list prioritized from the highest ROI to the lowest. “If I manage to complete all of the most important tasks, I move on to the lower-return tasks, making it easy to manage and keep up with.”
Notion is available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.
Task management doesn’t have to be complicated. Zambrano uses bullet points on a Google Doc and organizes them according to priority.
“You have to categorize each task as [to] how urgent it is and also the level of impact,” he said. “The idea is to focus on things that create a large impact and push aside those which aren’t urgent and don’t make a big improvement to your organization.”
You can use Google Docs via web browser, or download it as an iOS or Android mobile app.
Productboard helps big and small businesses figure out what clients want and establish market priorities. Kenny Kline, president and financial lead of BarBend, said it’s popular among product managers and road mappers because it “provides a powerful prioritization matrix for displaying the value/effort trade-off across all objective features.”
Todoist is a popular to-do list app that’s been around for a while and continues to provide value. Mark Osborne, director of Prestige Roof Lanterns, said he appreciates functions such as organizing tasks by date and color-coding them. “Although the free edition has fewer capabilities, it is extremely well designed and user-friendly.”
Todoist is available as an iOS or Android app.
Mark Ellwood contributed to the writing and research in this article.