Being an entrepreneur is a lot more difficult than you might think. So many people assume that as a business owner and self-employed person that you have so much freedom and so little stress, but it’s actually quite the opposite. In fact, if you’re not careful you might find yourself overindulging in things that simply make you crazy. It’s hard to turn off your working brain once you’ve become an entrepreneur. Your future, your career and your business are always on the forefront of your mind, often taking away from other things that are more important. If you work at home, it’s even worse. The best thing I can tell you from my own personal experience and from conversations I’ve had with our close friends who own their own businesses (construction, real estate and even a yogurt shop) there are a few things you cannot forgo if you’re going to become an entrepreneur, and all of them have to do with time management. If you cannot manage your time, you cannot succeed in this type of business.
Make a List
Your best friend when managing time is going to be a list. You need a list to write down all that you have to do and all that you need to remind yourself of throughout the day. It is impossible to effectively manage your time if you are not going to make a list of things to do and to remember. You will find this your most valuable business asset.
Keep a Calendar
It’s imperative that you keep a calendar that reminds you of all that needs doing in your life. This calendar is going to make your life much more manageable, and it’s going to save you the embarrassment of thinking you have something to do on a specific day but not having a reminder whether or not this is the truth.
Figure Your Worth
What do you earn each minute, every hour? If you can break it down and figure out what you earn in that amount of time working, you need to then take all tasks that take you away from work, cost you money or cost less to have someone else do and you need to outsource those things to others. For example, if you make $200 an hour on average working at your business and your yard needs mowing, hire someone. It’ll cost you more to do it yourself.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
You cannot do it all, no matter how much of a super star you really are. You may want to do it all on your own considering you’re probably less inclined to trust others than you think, but that doesn’t mean anything. You need to delegate the simple tasks to others to help you manage your time effectively and to help you stay on track.
Minimize and Limit Distractions
Turn off the television, turn down the music and get off the internet. Shut down all websites or apps that are not helping your productivity level. Say that you will check your email every hour and stick to that instead of checking it every single time it beeps. The less distracted you are, the more productive you will be with your time.
Put the Phone Down
Put it down. Stop texting, messaging and engaging on social media. If it’s that important, your spouse or kids will call. Otherwise, what you are doing is wasting precious time you could be using to work and get things done in a timely and efficient manner.
Designate a Space
If you work from home, this is especially important. You cannot work from the dining room while the rest of the family is going nuts. Designate a space in a room shut off from the piles of laundry and the dishwasher full of clean dishes so that you are not distracted by those things. Stay in that office until you are finished with your work so that you’re not tempted to do other things around the house. This space should be clean, put together, organized and off-limits to anything that is not for work, about work or productive to your work day.
This is the most important time management skill we can provide for you. For example, I know that my family and I have plans every single Wednesday night to have dinner with our best friends and their kids. We’ve been doing it for 7 years. One week at our house, the next at theirs. And this cuts into my work time and makes me feel very stressed. So I work ahead and plan ahead so that I can have fairly easy Wednesdays so that I can limit the number of times I feel completely overwhelmed and crazed.
Learn to Say No
Sometimes you have to say no. Sometimes you have to forgo a lunch, or say no to plans after the ‘work’ day is over or to a project that has to be done by Friday, which is the same day you’re leaving on vacation and still have to prep your house, pack for your family of six and get your work done that’s already on your plate. Sometimes you must learn to say no and move on from things that do not fit into your schedule.
Keep a Journal
This is a vital time management skill. My favorite journal is a pink one that I ordered from Kate Spade. It says “Eat Cake for Breakfast” on the front and provides hundreds of pages for me to make notes, jot down ideas and write quotes and bible verses that help me maintain calm, peaceful, productive energy. Sometimes stopping what I’m doing when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and overworked so that I can write down things in here that will help me at a later date – or at the moment – is all it takes to get me back on track when my mind is wandering and my attention is not where it needs to be.
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