Your time management skills are especially tested when you are an entrepreneur, besides many other skills that need to be developed, time management still remains one of the top. The majority of entrepreneurs fall into two groups, either waking up and wondering what they are going to do for the day to waking up and feeling so overwhelmed by the wealth of activities to do for the day and having no idea how to get everything done! So which one are you?
Imagine waking up and feeling energized and excited by the day, mixed with a sense of clarity and control. You would feel this way because you are really clear on everything you have to do, you have everything under control and you are eager to get to work on your company. You have no stress, no anxiety; you are feeling empowered and focused. How different would that be for you?
Most entrepreneurs tend to fall into one of the two groups mentioned earlier and this is not surprising, because entrepreneurs just want to do what they are good at, what they enjoy and what they think needs to happen to keep their company moving forward. However the problem is that working in this manner is harmful to your health and the ‘health of your business’. Are you making these three detrimental mistakes in your business?
1. Being active but not productive
Don’t confuse activity with productivity. Just because you feel that you are busy, it doesn`t mean that you are being efficient in the way that you are working. Going from one activity to the next without targeted direction, putting out fires all day and not taking a break may make you feel that you are getting a lot done, but what are you really accomplishing? Ask yourself, what is your real return on the time you invest? Is it high or low?
Being productive does not mean working 24 hours a day or constantly trying to get as much as you can done by jumping blindly from one task to the next. Productivity actually includes resting at times so that you feel renewed and performing the most demanding jobs when your energy levels is at its peak. It is about being focused when you work and not distracted by a million different interruptions and disturbances. Are you being productive or merely active every day?
2. Keeping everything in the head
You may think that you know everything that needs to get done in your company and that you are on top of everything, but this is one of the most ineffective ways to work. Maintaining everything that you need to do mentally is exhausting and dangerous, you are undermining your performance. Working this way has numerous downfalls and no advantages.
It makes you feel overloaded, you forget many things and you take up mental space which could be used for more creative and productive thinking. You also have less energy and focus when you have many things in your head that you are trying to remember and this makes you feel stressed.
Something else to consider is that you also can’t prioritize because you need to compare and distinguish between the tasks and this is very challenging if this is not visually in front of you in some form or another. You can have many things to do and not feel overwhelmed, that is possible of course, but keeping everything in your head is not the first step in the right direction.
Start working from a To do list. Yes, you might have heard it before, but with many things, there are effective ways to do things and very ineffective ways. Unfortunately many entrepreneurs don’t know how to work efficiently with these lists. Here are a few quick tips:
- Don’t make it longer than 8 items, your mind will instantly feel overwhelmed
- Separate your to do’ into different lists, follow ups, projects, individual tasks, etc.
- Estimate how much time you think it will take to do the task and indicate this estimation next to the task to help you to plan effectively.
- Review your list weekly, prioritize your list properly with tasks you want to do the following day or week and take these from your list and put them into your calendar.
3. Not planning anything
Another common mistake is just doing what you feel next, without thinking about what is important and only focusing on what is urgent. This is not always the best way to spend your time. Of course you will have interruptions, unforeseen crises and things that come up that need to be dealt with immediately, but this should be exception and not the norm.
You cannot only work on urgent tasks, you will start to feel overwhelmed, overworked and you are compromising on your long term goals and the growth of your company. You need to work on tasks that are important and not urgent.
Planning includes looking at your workflow. What is your workflow like? The things that you have to do every day may come to you in many different ways and you must manage and master your workflow so that you can plan properly and optimize your time. It is so easy to get weighed down with all the things that require your time, but if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
The key is to plan your week, day or month ahead in your calendar with tasks that you have selected as priority from your To do list. Leave time during your day for unforeseen tasks as well and working productively and efficiently. You will transform your results from these three simple changes!