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Catchafire CEO: If I Don't Use My Time Well, My Employees Won't Either Rachael Chong is a busy, New York City-based social entrepreneur who has learned that setting priorities and sticking to them is her most critical mission.

By Catherine Clifford

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Business owners have a lot to manage, including their time. Trying to do everything at once and spending valuable hours on the wrong projects can destroy your productivity. Worse, it can send the wrong message to your staff - and that's never good.

"As the leader of the organization, I better know how to use my time well. Because if I don't, how the heck will my team be clear on how they should use their time?" says Rachael Chong, the CEO and founder of Catchafire, a business that matches professional talent with non-profit demand.

That's why Chong says she maintains a list of three top priorities and makes sure that all her time is devoted to those tasks.

Related: Why Google, Facebook and Twitter Execs Are Meeting With a Monk

"When you start to track your time, you start to see you are spending time on things that perhaps are not the most strategic," Chong told Entrepreneur.com in October at The Feast, an annual social innovation conference held in New York City.

Chong used her interview with Entrepreneur.com as an example. "The time I am spending with you guys -- that is a decision that I have to make. Is half an hour with you the best use of my time? Or is it going back to the office and writing a proposal, for instance." (We'd like to think she chose wisely.)

Chong's three priorities may be fluid. At particularly pivotal moments in the growth of her New York City-based business, Chong reassesses what her three priorities should be. Then, she sticks -- as much as is possible -- to devoting time to projects and tasks that support those missions. Chong mirrors that process of identifying three key time-priorities with her team, too.

Related: Let Go, Keep it Simple, Move Quickly: Secrets to Being a Productive Entrepreneur (Infographic)

Chong started Catchafire in 2009 after working in both the investment banking and nonprofit industries. As a professional, she realized that there was not an efficient way for her to identify opportunities for her to donate her expertise and time. In the nonprofit sector, she realized that there was a tremendous need for affordable professional talent.

"We often don't think of nonprofits as companies. But they are. And companies need everything from technology help to design help to marketing help," Chong says. On Catchafire, the most frequently demanded skill is marketing, communication and branding expertise.

Related: Get it Done: 35 Habits of the Most Productive People (Infographic)

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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