Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Editor's Note: In a chat interview, we asked serial entrepreneur Jen Groover your questions about time management. Read the transcript of the conversation below.
2:04 PM Entrepreneur.com:
2:04 PM Jen Groover:
2:04 PM Entrepreneur.com:
So as a means of introduction...we're joined today by Jen Groover, serial entrepreneur, small-business advocate, author, dynamic speaker and frequent TV guest -- and last but not least, a mom of two adorable girls.!
2:04 PM Jen Groover:
So happy to be here! Those twins are probably the biggest reason I am able to join you today about time management. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention!
2:06 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Isn't that true... so, we've got lots of questions via Facebook for you on time management, work-life balance and more. So let's get right to it.
2:07 PM Jen Groover:
2:07 PM Entrepreneur.com:
From Kathy Simpson: "Is multi-tasking effective?"
2:08 PM Jen Groover:
I believe it really depends on the person more than the circumstance. Some people are better at it than others. As a general answer I would say focusing on one task at a time is the most effective approach unless you need to "walk away" from the task to gain a new perspective, then multi-tasking can add value.
2:10 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Makes sense, especially the "focus" part. Here's a question from Autumn Bree Fata: "What's the #1 practice that creates time management masters?"
2:11 PM Jen Groover:
Autumn, I believe it is having lists for everything you need to do. Lists give you clear vision and focus and a sense of accomplishment when you cross your activities off the list. WIthout lists people are left running in circles all day.
2:12 PM Entrepreneur.com:
There is nothing better than crossing things off a list!
Renee Kiernan via Facebook wants to know: "Any amazing tips for a telecommuter? The unexpected events are my biggest time-wasters!"
2:13 PM Jen Groover:
Indeed!! Renee, set your schedule out ahead of time. They biggest problems I find for telecommuters creep in when they are not creating schedules therefore they get caught up in personal things to easily. Set hours like you would if you worked in an office and stick to them. Leave personal things like the gym, laundry, etc for non-office hours. Also, let the people in your life know that while you may have the flexibility in where you work, you still need to put in the same amount of hours.
2:14 PM Entrepreneur.com:
And here's one from the up-and-coming set, Dallas Lovett: "As a young entrepreneur my #1 question is how do you fit all of your objectives into one day, without getting overwhelmed and behind schedule?
2:15 PM Jen Groover:
Dallas, the trick is to always have a list of what you want to accomplish but also maintain a realistic perspective that tasks may take longer, unexpected calls or projects may come up and you may have to put what you were going to do today onto tomorrows list. It's a delicate balance between having goals and letting go to allow life to fall into place the way it's supposed to. Don't sweat the stuff you can't control. It takes just as much energy to worry as it does to believe.
2:17 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Those are words to live by! And don't sweat the small stuff. Great advice. OK...we have more coming up.
Here's a question via our comment board from reader Marty Bauer: "Jen - With multiple projects you are working on, how do you determine the number of hours you dedicate to each project, while still being effective on each of them?"
2:18 PM Jen Groover:
I dont have a set clear answer to this because it is constantly in flux, every project is. Often I follow my intuition and passion first along with deadlines that need to be met.I create purposeful deadlines too, to create a sense of urgency for myself, even if others are not involved. I would say in starting something new maybe dedicate and hour or two a day to it, once it gains it's own momentum you will be guided as to where your energy and efforts need to be more.
2:21 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Interesting. This approach must certainly work for you, Jen, as you are always working on so many projects - and getting them done!
Speaking of, do you have time for a few more questions?
2:23 PM Jen Groover:
Yes, it's the only approach that allows for the delicate balance of life in alignment with goals, otherwise you will become stressed and overwhelmed which essentially suppresses creativity and productivity.
Of course, I would love to do some more.
2:24 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Vishal Pansuria, one of our Facebook followers, wants to know: "How is it that some people are more successful than others even though all have 24 hours in a day??"
2:26 PM Jen Groover:
Vishal, I love this question because it hits on a very important component of time-management most never discuss! I believe the key to this is defining your purpose, priorities, energy, mental clarity and focus. When you become clear as to who you are and what you want you begin to have clarity of your purpose, then you can more effectively define your priorities, once you define your priorities (goals) you will naturally begin to make better choices as to where you put your time and energy. Staying away from negative energy, drama, bad habits, and foods all take away your energy therefore drains your focus, energy and mental clarity. The healthier and more passionate someone is about who they are and what they are doing, typically the more effective they are in every hour of every day. Passion for living your purpose is the ultimate fuel for success. Living in the drama-free zone, is the environment it begins in.
2:27 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Now here's a question that many aspiring entrepreneurs (who haven't quit their day jobs) might want to know. Szilvia Kocsy: "Is it possible to run a business (starting up is okay, but actually running it) if you only do it after office hours as a second shift?"
2:29 PM Jen Groover:
Of course, Szilvia, many successful business have started this way. The key is to set reasonable expectations of yourself and your time and set boundaries for the people in your life so that they understand your free time is probably going to be spent differently for awhile so that they support you and your focus, not try to de-rail it or make you feel guilty.
2:30 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Good advice. You pointed out in recent blog post
for us that you need to surround yourself with good people -- and sometimes, you need to shed those that aren't supportive of you.
2:30 PM Jen Groover:
Yes, surrounding yourself by people who lift you up, support you and inspire you is critical to the outcome of your success.
2:31 PM Entrepreneur.com:
So, here's a related topic that a lot of parents might struggle with…. Jessi Bell Pruett has this question: "Work/life balance is always the elusive trophy. Those that look to have everything figured out just have a life held together with hidden duct tape. My question is how to forgive myself when I feel that I am spending too much time on business or too much time on family."
2:33 PM Jen Groover:
Jessi, as an entrepreneur, there is no separation between family and work life. What you do is who you are. First realize there will be ebb and flow times. Sometimes work demands more and vice versa. Incorporate your family as much as possible into your work so it allows more understanding and enthusiasm for what you are trying to accomplish. Most importantly let go of society's "normal" and create your own. What normal and works for each family is different. Too many women get caught up in trying to be June Cleaver and Donald Trump--both at the same time with perfection. It won't happen, be you and create your own balance.
2:34 PM Entrepreneur.com:
That is terrific advice. Also, would hate to see what a combo of June Cleaver and Donald Trump would look like. (!)
2:34 PM Jen Groover:
Haha, that would make for an interesting visual.
2:34 PM Entrepreneur.com:
We've got just one last question, and it's a good one! Ashima Juneja: "Just a simple question...How to gain an extra hour everyday?"
2:37 PM Jen Groover:
This question is my favorite because the answer/solution is really simple but took me about 12 years to understand. Ashima, meditation. Plain and simple. Meditation increases mental clarity, focus and gives me insight and guidance to where I need to go and who I need to know. Definitely creates a work smarter, not harder frequency in my life.
2:38 PM Entrepreneur.com:
What time of day do you meditate?
2:39 PM Jen Groover:
Definitely first thing in the morning, also at night before bed. And if I get "stuck" with a problem or situation, instead of worrying or stressing, I walk away and meditate and usually come back to the situation more calm and clear.
2:40 PM Entrepreneur.com:
Excellent. Well, that's a wrap! Thanks so much, Jen, for joining us and sharing your insight with readers. Any final words?
2:42 PM Jen Groover:
My pleasure. I think the most critical thing people need to understand about time-management and productivity is that it isn't some secret formula outside of themselves, but it's a perspective and healthy lifestyle within them that actually creates the effectiveness and the ability to do more with less effort.