Good time management is everything when you’re building and growing a lucrative business. There are only so many minutes in a day – 1440 minutes to be exact – and many of these are spent in much-needed sleep. What you do with the rest of the minutes can determine just how successful you’ll be as an entrepreneur or freelancer.
“It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” said Steve Jobs.
He was right. You never get time back. Once it has been spent, used, or wasted, it’s gone for good. This is an inherent reality behind anything in life that all successful entrepreneurs quickly internalize. It fuels their drive to find better ways to manage their time and productivity.
If you’re working all hours and still finding it difficult to get things done, then making a few simple changes to the way you use time might help. Incorporating even just a few new time management strategies could mean the difference between thriving and sinking.
Here are 10 powerful time management strategies to consider:
- Track and analyze every minute of your day
It’s impossible to attain great time management if you’re not tracking your time. That’s why it’s important to use time tracking software to record the minutes and hours you spend working (and indeed, not working).
The data can then be analyzed. You’ll be shocked at first, like everyone is, at just how much time you waste on non-essential tasks and distractions. Consistent time-tracking will ensure you continue to find ways to make the best use of your day.
- Schedule and plan everything
Powerful time management goes hand in hand with great project management. Relying on memory or simple to-do lists might be okay for one-off tasks. However, for big projects and multiple clients, you’ll need to carefully schedule and plan your time.
When you plan for every minute and hour of the day, you’re better able to jump straight into different tasks and jobs, without wondering if there’s something else to do. Kanban Boards are an excellent way to see an overview of your entire day, week, and overall strategy, and can be modified and updated on the go.
- Prioritize and do your most important task first
We’ve all heard of the “eat the frog” metaphor for getting things done. And it’s well-known because it works. You simply choose the most important task you need to complete that day and get it done first before anything else, with no ifs, buts, or maybe tomorrows.
You’ll feel a sense of achievement early on, which sets you up positively for the rest of the day. When emergencies inevitably happen, you will already have completed the most important jobs.
Of course, identifying the most important tasks depends on good project management, as noted previously.
- Delegate to free up more time
“From a young age, I learned to focus on the things I was good at and delegate to others what I was not good at.” – Richard Branson
Whether you’re an entrepreneur in charge of a team or a solo-professional such as a freelancer, delegation can be a very powerful time management strategy. When you delegate or outsource work to other professionals, you free up big chunks of time to devote to the tasks you do best.
All successful entrepreneurs delegate work to their teams or freelancers. The alternative is burnout and collapse.
- Preempt time-wasting procrastination
It’s so easy and tempting to submit to procrastination. We all have our weaknesses when it comes to postponing tasks, delaying work, or even avoiding healthy habits that will benefit our careers and lifestyles. And so we need to find ways to preempt these moments of time wasting procrastination.
For example, a solopreneur who works from home but understands the importance of fitness might prepare his/her gym bag and workout gear the night before a planned CrossFit session. That way, they’re ready to just head out early in the morning.
There are potentially hundreds of micro procrastination moments you can foresee and preempt, thereby reclaiming a ton of time.
- Focus on your goals and learn to say “no!” to distractions
If you’re a nice person, it can be difficult to say “no” to people. We have an instinctive inbuilt desire to help people and offer assistance. A client might ask for an extra task done for free, a team member may ask for ongoing guidance for something unrelated to the current project, or a family member might request a visit right in the middle of our work day.
Very quickly, your schedule is thrown into chaos and you’re playing catchup. It’s important to discover the power of “no” when it comes to tasks and events that will hinder your growth and workflow.
- Batch work together
Batching work is the act of grouping similar activities and working on them in one go. It’s a very powerful time management strategy used by prolific entrepreneurs, creatives, and business leaders who seem to get so much done in such a short period of time.
Whenever you start a new activity, your brain needs a little time to come up to speed with the new work. When you’re always switching between disparate tasks, your brain is constantly starting-up and winding down – rather like a car engine – and wasting mental energy.
By batching and focusing on one type of task (including invoicing), you get into that beautiful mental zone or flow state, where you work fast and your focus is pinpoint.
- Fill in the gaps
Every day we all have gaps of time where we’re doing nothing in particular. For example, when we’re commuting, walking to the gym, or waiting for the kettle to boil. These are moments of time which we can fill with productive tasks which don’t necessarily need a computer screen.
Part of being a successful entrepreneur or freelancer is the development of our education and knowledge. The most successful business people are constantly learning. There are numerous speeches, podcasts, presentations, and audio books which you can listen to during odd moments in between everyday mundane tasks.
- Focus on health and wellbeing
We usually think of good time management strategies as cognitive habits and work techniques. However, perhaps the most important way to ensure you are effective with your time is to ensure your mind and body are in the best condition. A stressed mind and a sick body inevitably lead to delay, mistakes, and slowness.
Eat well, exercise regularly, meet new people (especially if you work alone), and actively cultivate a healthy emotional wellbeing. A happy and healthy entrepreneur is a lot more likely to meet with success.
- Use technology to save time
In this day and age, with the abundance of software and technology options, there’s simply no excuse for bad time management. You can run pretty much any facet of your business with software, including, as noted earlier, your time.
At Invoice Ninja, we offer time and project management software, automation tools, and a wealth of data synchronization and app integration options for busy entrepreneurs and freelancers. All from one admin panel. It’s enough to boost your efficiency tenfold, or more.
Technology is everything when it comes to powerful time management. Use it.
The key secret to managing your time effectively
Successful time management is not that complicated, in itself. The difficulties arise in changing our habits and processes. We grow accustomed to our old ways and even though we know they’re not serving us well, they are comfortable and familiar.
The key to boosting your time efficiency and productivity is stepping out of your comfort zone and simply doing what needs to be done, exactly when it needs to be done – and ignoring the discomfort.
You’ll quickly adapt to the new ways outlined above and find yourself in a new and more lucrative comfort zone.