As an entrepreneur you likely juggle many different roles during your working week. Some of those roles may involve activities you don’t particularly enjoy or feel confident about doing. As we flitter between what we love to do and what we need to do, we can end up wasting time procrastinating or demotivated.
A key skill for any entrepreneur is time management.
Not just being on time or meeting deadlines, but actually managing your time so that you get the maximum benefit from your working day/week. Although, we can’t get away from some of the menial tasks that come with running your own business, we can win back some time and relieve some of the stress. Here are just a few tips to help you use your time more effectively:
Keep a diary or calendar
It goes without saying, but whatever you do, keeping a diary of your appointments both business and personal can help to ensure you don’t miss or double book any important events. Whether you decide on a paper or an electronic version or both is up to you, but be sure to keep it up to date, accessible and that the format you use works for you.
If you use a paper version and work with a team or a personal assistant, set aside time to sync your diaries so your team members are aware of your schedule. If you use an electronic version, you can share your calendar online, blocking out slots of time when team members can schedule appointments for you. There are even apps and software for your clients to book meetings with you, such as Calendy.
Start every project with a plan
A project plan is a great way to stay on track and planning ahead saves you time. Each action should be listed with a deadline for completion and your plan should be reviewed regularly. This will help you remain focused on the outcome. You can also rethink or adjust the plan as required.
Project Plans can be as simple or complex as you need. You can draft your own which is great if you are managing small in-house projects. Or you could work with a project manager or use a project management tool, such as Trello or Asana.
A project manager can provide an additional resource and bring expertise to your team. A project management tool will allow you to review all your actions, tasks, team activity and progression in one place.
Prepare for each action/task well
Each action will have its own tasks so allow time for each individual task within each action. Be realistic. For example, if you need to make 10 sales calls, allow time for discussion during those calls plus some time to book in follow up meetings and to send a confirmation email.
Therefore, instead of allowing 10 minutes for the call you may want to allow 20 minutes per call. Have the potential clients’ details in front of you, your diary open, notebook, list of services on hand and so on.
Be ready to adjust if things aren’t working out the way you planned. If you’re not in the mood, you realize you have left something important out or you are called away on another matter, it’s okay to reschedule or change the plan.
Use the little and often method for tasks you don’t particularly enjoy. You won’t procrastinate if you know you only have a short period of time to execute a task. Better to do a little, often, than to do nothing at all.
Last minute cancellations or changes can be a pain, but if you’ve planned your week well, you can use the time to take action on other tasks.
Review and reflect
Take time to review the way you work regularly. You may find you can make further changes which could save you even more time. What worked well 6 months ago may not be as productive now. Maybe you could benefit from automated systems, new apps or software? You and your business will be evolving all the time. Schedule a review of your business and stay on point.
Serena Nalty-Coombs has been running her Project Management Consultancy, SN Management, for over 9 years, helping others to achieve their personal and business goals. Serena is also the co-founder of We Rock, a non-profit organization promoting positive role models and positive activities for young people.