As an entrepreneur, you will have several things on your mind, all the time. Since you own and don’t answer to a business, the whole business in its entirety is your responsibility. Hence, sustained focus on something is often a luxury. You find yourself stretched thin and perennially short on time. While a heady lifestyle like that where you work hard to make your business a success might sound almost romantic and deliciously challenging to many, when tension and hyper activity become the daily tone of things, you almost miss the monotone and drudgery of simpler, even if less successful times!
While some part of this hyperactivity is unavoidable, there is no reason why an entrepreneur cannot seek to make things easier on herself/himself. There are ways and long proven hacks that many entrepreneurs employ successfully to deal with their time management challenges and to increase their personal productivity. In this article I will try and cover a few of these hacks and explain how these hacks or tips can help you manage your time better and increase your productivity.
1. Distribute and delegate- The tendency to micro manage might look like that an entrepreneur really cares. Often though, it’s simply foolishness. Trying to micro manage everything will end up stretching you so thin that you won’t be able to do anything properly. Imagine the President of America trying to manage traffic on Pennsylvania Street too! It is crazy right? Hence you as the leader must learn to delegate responsibility to subordinates. That will help you focus on things that are more important and increase your productivity. In case you are a one person show, then hire virtual staff, who can take care of some of the less important and non-core functions on a full or part time basis. If you feel you don’t have the budget for hiring even remote staff, hire offshore staff and delegate some of your work to them. Offshore staffing is significantly cheaper and you should be able to easily afford them.
2. Prioritize– Sometimes, despite trying everything trick in the book, you will still have some days when 24 hours will seem too little! In such cases, it is very important that you take five minutes and list down the tasks and set your priorities. Once you have prioritized, do you your most important task first and do the one which you can afford to delay in the end. This ensures that you avoid any immediate crisis, from which you can build up to some sort of a cushion.
3. Deciding the first task of the morning- Now, there are completely opposing and diverging theories on this. One thought says that the most difficult task should be done first, while advice you to start with the easiest. I don’t have a personal favorite, though I always attempted the most difficult questions in the question paper first during an exam. However, at work I veer wildly. Professionals don’t always work the recommended hours. Hence on days that I have a time limitation, or I simply have to be somewhere else in the evening, I tend to start with the most challenging task at hand, and then get to the less challenging ones once my primary, in this case most difficult, task is finished. However, there are days when a particular report or presentation simply needs more time. On such days, when I know that the normal 9 hours won’t cut it, I wrap up everything else as fast as possible and then, free of the smaller burdens, get cracking at the biggest and most important task of the day. Since everyone their own systems and their own methods, I suggest that you create your own, based on your strengths and comfort.
4. Plan and schedule as much as possible– Take a few minutes out of your work and prepare a detailed schedule. Then stick to it. You will find that suddenly you have extra hours, and things are happening on time, when earlier they might not have. Even small and potentially insignificant details should be written down and allotted their own time space. This ensures that tasks and priorities don’t come in conflict.
5. Start your day early– Working late might be fashionable, especially if you have an office up a skyscraper and a bottle of scotch nearby. But trust me, unless you are Don Draper working in the 60’s in Madison Avenue that is a poor lifestyle to maintain. And I am not saying from a health perspective at all, although living a decent lifestyle and living longer with more vigor and vitality never hurt anyone! Anyways, as I was saying, working late is never a great idea. Instead let’s try and shift towards the “early to rise and tolerably early to bed” one. If you start earlier, then you have a head start over pretty much the rest of the world. You can plan your day with care and you will have wrapped up a decent amount of work by the time the others roll in. Or the rest of the world starts fluttering, if you will.
6. Take a break– Your brain needs recharging. Hence, take breaks. Stop your productivity for a few minutes to actually be more productive over the whole day. Further, you will be surprised how many brilliant ideas I have had while quietly sipping coffee on the 60th floor terrace of my office! Some good caffeine and some fresh (rather a break from the air conditioned atmosphere of an office) air- and the brain has literally gone into overdrive. Taking proper breaks will also ensure that you are not hit with fatigue and the “lack of ideas” syndrome, as I call it. That ways, you won’t procrastinate and hence, not waste any time either.
So, these were my six hacks to manage time and increase personal productivity. However I am not exactly a “guru” and these are not the only ways to do it. If you search the internet, there are plenty of articles which might have solutions that might ring truer for you. I can only share what I have found to be useful. Remember, if you are entrepreneur, you need to let go more to be able to win continuously. As our businesses grow, we need to change ourselves from a tireless worker to an able leader. And for that you must know the tricks to make 24 hours seem like 48 or 72!