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Entrepreneurship is a state of mind that entails many personal and professional traits. Being able to launch, execute, grow and scale a business is an intellectual exercise involving a lot of research, networking, planning, business strategy, marketing, sales, and a number of related activity.
As a result, entrepreneurs have to jump between tasks, hop on calls, attend events, and be extra careful with each and every decision for their business endeavor. Managing their time properly is an invaluable skill, and extremely rewarding in the long run.
Burning out is a critical state of complete mental and physical exhaustion due to stress, working 80-hour work weeks (or more), and seeing little to no progress on your activities. While entrepreneurs are endangered by burning out more often, an interesting study of 200 American workers - full-time and part-time employees, along with self-employed freelancers and business owners - revealed a surprising response by 50% of the self-employed workers indicating zero burnout.
Experienced freelancers, entrepreneurs, and successful business owners have mastered a number of time management techniques and strategies that keep their sanity in check and prevent them from causing discrepancies during meetings and the planning process.
Break Down Your Activities Into Simple Problems
Utilizing your consciousness requires more energy and can be avoided by simplifying your problems. Excellence in time management revolves around establishing a process and breaking it down into small, atomic operations that are easy to grasp and don’t require intensive resource consumption.
Veritasium explains that in a simple video, explaining how the brain works, why people are lazy, and what does unconscious mind helps us with on a day-to-day:
Successful entrepreneurs take a complex task and decompose it into pieces, thus making the remaining process easier to comprehend and follow. The simple operations are simple, and executing them doesn’t require dozens of follow-up questions preventing you from checking tasks off your list.
Create a Prioritization System
Stephen Covey once said:
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Priorities vary for businesses and are shaped around deadlines, the importance of execution, possible ROI and reach. But we often tend to miss the essentials that bring value in the long run or focus on a single process for weeks by leaving everything else in the backlog.
Time management strategies like Getting Things Done design a methodology structured around creativity, focus, and efficient planning. David Allen, the founder of GTD, believes that individuals should learn to control and process their required day-to-day tasks first in order to focus on big picture goals.
Learning to prioritize both long-term activities that gain momentum later in time, and short-term goals necessary for incremental results, is critical, and requires careful planning by entrepreneurs.
Start With a Simple Task
Failing to complete a broad and complex task over the course of the day will demotivate you, and prevent you from seeing progress with your weekly planning.
An excellent way to break the ice is starting with a trivial and quick task which would give you a head start. This will put your productivity mode and hustle in motion, and let you focus on more complex assignments later on.
Create a Long-Term Roadmap
One of the repetitive tasks that may drag you from your day-to-day activities is planning. While it’s okay to have individual tasks emerging from your interactions during the business week, creating a long-term plan would let you focus better, and decide whether your new tasks are in line with your goals.
Revise your business plan and set some KPIs. Assign some milestones to them, and add them to your calendar - with goals every month or quarter, for a period of 1-3 years. List down your repetitive activities (content production, social media engagements, partners meetings) in each slot, and take it from there.
By defining the well known duties that are crucial for your success further down the road, you can determine the expected outcome and measure it once or twice a month. You will also get a clearer picture of your weekly availability and stop overusing your buffers by putting too much on your plate.
Dealing with several priorities simultaneously may be overwhelming, and block your train of thought for weeks, preparing your brain for a burnout. The core of the problem is often related to a detachment from reality, and a diversion from the business goals.
When you struggle with your typical workflow, take a step back and revise your roadmap again. See what you’ve started with, where you are at that point of time, and how is your progress going. If everything seems to be on track, just proceed with a focus on results and discard distractions from your list. Otherwise, realign your schedule and free up more time which is more likely to hit your indicators by the end of the quarter.
Take Regular Breaks for Brainstorming
Successful entrepreneurs work mainly “on” the business and less “in” the business. When you are knee-deep in your overlapping tasks, you often lose perspective on the purpose of these.
Take regular breaks between activities and align your progress with your targets. Go out and take a walk, get some fresh air and relax for a moment - this would also bring some creative ideas which you can implement in your work.
Always Improve Your Strategy
No matter how efficient your strategy is, there’s always room for improvement. For an entrepreneur, learning never ends - be it with regards to your professional capacity, or regarding business and personal development, time management, and living a better life. Always keep an eye on tasks that take you too long, or require your attention far too often, and try to optimize or simplify them.