Time management is one of the hardest assets to put to work for your business. As an entrepreneur, you have multiple responsibilities to keep you busy -- distracted even -- from what you should be doing to reach your goals. There are so many tasks and hurdles on the road to success, one can get overwhelmed with the way they spend their day. This results in most entrepreneurs spinning their wheels and going nowhere.
It’s because they haven’t learned to manage their time well. For this article, I spoke with three major influencers about their time management skills. We can learn a lot from how they take their time and make it work for them -- instead of the other way around.
Tools and brain tips.
The first influencer I spoke with was John Lee Dumas, founder and host of Entrepreneur on Fire, an award-winning podcast where proves his Jedi-like time skills by producing a brand new show every day. Dumas is recently known for his Mastery Journal, a book which guides you along the path to productivity.
Dumas is a firm believer in lists. He makes a list of the things that should be done for the day and ranks them in order of importance. Keep top priority tasks first on the list, and do them first. If you don’t make it to the others, it’s fine. You’ve already done the most important jobs for the day.
One of the best ways every entrepreneur can stay productive is to keep a calendar on hand that syncs with all of your devices. With a calendar tool, you are able to see responsibilities in the near future, and prepare for them in advance.
Dumas also suggests a "refresh and focus time" throughout your day. For him, it’s 42 minutes of focus time where he can stay tuned into whatever he is doing. When 42 minutes are up, he allows himself 18 minutes of refresh time, where he rests his creative brain. This can help you stay more productive and avoid burnout. Burning the candle at both ends and slamming the pedal to the metal every day yields poor business results. It’s good to take a step back and breathe to see another aspect of your business.
Managing the future of your work.
The second influencer I spoke with was Brian Rashid. He focused on how we identify and utilize innovation and technology to create sustainable professional opportunities and businesses we enjoy. Rashid has a deep understanding of the convergence of accelerating technology and how it will impact, disrupt and create the future of work over the next 5-10 years.
In order to create your own productivity schedule, you need to think of it in terms of two things -- time perspective and energy perspective. Sometimes this is hard to do because entrepreneurs have more energy than time or vice versa. This is why it’s so important to determine the most important objectives you should be completing for the day.
Rashid said that one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to do is to be completely honest with themselves about how they are spending their time on projects. More often than not, you will find yourself doing meaningless tasks -- which don’t really need doing -- simply because you’re procrastinating the important jobs you think will be difficult.
Don't overload yourself where you find yourself wanting to do the less important tasks first. In order to correctly manage the future of your work, you have to understand the importance of what you’re doing now. For the future to matter for your business, you have to grab the reins and stay on track today for tomorrow to be successful.
Plan your work, and work your plan.
Finally, I spoke with Alex Charfen, a man who has dedicated his life to answering the question, “How do I make my business grow?” He has created and curated proven business philosophies, models and strategies geared specifically to entrepreneurs. His opinions on time management are solid.
It’s important to create a plan so you have something to manage yourself by daily. Have a one-day, a 30-day, and a 90-day plan. These plans allow you to create an intention with your work, which means you will be working towards a specific end game. Intention is necessary because it allows entrepreneurs to create a goal for your business that you can begin working towards. In fact, as an entrepreneur, you should be using an intention planner to help you focus on working your plan more effectively.
Charfen reminds us how all successful people have a routine and a process which they go through every day. They are obsessed with staying on track. Having a routine will allow you to go through different tasks fluently and without flaw. Routine is muscle memory for your brain. You begin to plan your work for the day, and when you continue to do it over and over again, you can begin to see you are working the plan you have set for yourself without thinking about it.
Use different planning systems to help organize and work out the details of your plan. Find your favorite planning app, and start loading it up with tasks you can do for the next day, 30 days or 90 days. Charfen says don’t discount the power of the pen and paper to help you with planning either because some apps are more distracting than productive.
Finally, being overwhelmed can be a huge part of an entrepreneur’s business. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to many negative things in your life and your business. Being overwhelmed can lead to loss of time on projects and cause you to procrastinate as well. This is a crippling aspect of your business which you must overcome. In order to defeat these feelings, Charfen suggests you write down everything that overwhelms you. Once you write it down, no matter how traumatic it is or how much stress you receive from it, it becomes powerless on paper.
You have a plan for your business. Work your plan, and don’t allow anything to stop you. Not negativity, nor distractions, or overwhelming thoughts or projects. Nothing. Keep moving forward with your plan, and see the major differences it can have on both your time and your success.