The life of an entrepreneur has countless rewards, and just as many challenges. One of the biggest difficulties that business owners and CEOs express to me lies in finding the time to get to everything that they want to do. If you get to the end of the day feeling frustrated because you don’t know where the time went but you feel like you didn’t accomplish enough, then you’re not alone.
There are a number of things that I’ve found have helped me to walk away from my work at the end of each day feeling satisfied that I’ve used my time to its best purposes. Here are my top five, in no particular order:
1. Time Saving Strategies with Legal Matters
There are two professionals that all businesses should consider when just starting out: an accountant and an attorney. There are obvious reasons for hiring these professionals but the hidden benefit is the right partners will save you time. Consider this scenario: a court representative is standing at your door serving you with a summons – and you don’t have an established partnership with an attorney. Big mistake. The time to find a good business lawyer is before you are sued. Save yourself time (and money) on any potential legal problems and formalize your business zoning compliance, copyright and trademark advice and business incorporation and registered agent service.
2. Stop Taking So Much Pride in Multitasking
The truth is that if you’re multitasking constantly then you are not giving your full attention to anything, and that means that something is likely to suffer. Not only that, there’s also the problem of becoming so habituated to multitasking that it never really stops. If you’re constantly checking your emails while you’re on a call then it’s likely that you’re going to sneak a peak at the Blackberry when you’re in a meeting, and you’re liable to miss something important. There’s nothing wrong with multitasking, but it needs to be abandoned when you need to focus on what’s truly important. Recognize what those priorities are, as well as what is really just an unimportant task that can wait. There’s no doubt that life feels easier when you have eliminated the sixty message in your Inbox, but when you shift your attention from the task at hand to something that’s unimportant, you make the bigger task take longer.
3. Recognize Your Own Needs
When we’re trying to figure out the best and most efficient use of our time, we have a nasty tend to want to follow somebody else’s lead. Just because the captain of industry whose face is on the cover of Time Magazine only needs four hours of sleep per night doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for you. Everybody has their own individual life demands that include the basics like how long it takes to get to work and how much sleep they need and the other important things like how much time they want to spend with their family and whether they want to exercise on a daily basis. If you take a good, realistic look at each of these things and acknowledge them for their importance, you can sit down and build a unique system for your own life that makes sure that everything is getting its due. Failing to do this will end up making everything suffer to a relative degree. If you don’t give yourself enough time to sleep then your ability to focus, learn and remember will suffer. If you don’t put 100 percent into your work project, then at the end of the day you won’t enjoy your time with your family because you’ll be thinking of what you wish you had accomplished. It’s not a question of balance – it’s a question of optimizing each piece of your life in recognition that it is all important.
4. Save time by abandoning technology time wasters.
If you receive an email or text that is unclear or requires more than one follow-up question, then put down the device and either call the person or march over to their office and have a real conversation. We have come to rely on our devices to such an extreme that we fail to recognize when they are slowing us down. There are just some people — and you need to recognize that you may be one of them — who don’t communicate well digitally. If you can get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time by sitting down face-to-face then by sending off a dozen emails, then do it.
5. Tracking your time will be an eye-opening experience.
If you constantly find yourself wondering where your time went, then stop asking and go to the effort of finding out. Whether you keep a notepad in your pocket and just jot down the different things you are doing each day or decide to journal it electronically on a calendar in your phone, if you take the time to track your activities in detail, you will be amazed to see what you’re doing — and you’ll have a map of what can be cut out in order to improve your time management. If your focus is on spending your time the way that you want to, then you need to understand how much of your time you’re spending working and how much time you’re wasting. It’s a good idea to keep track beyond your work day. If you know how much time your workout actually takes up, you may find that once you add in the extras like changing, saying hi to the guy behind the counter or stopping for a smoothie on your way back to the office adds on an extra half hour, and then you know where you can shift things around.
6. Get enough sleep.
There are a ton of other excellent recommendations that I could make, including taking scheduled short breaks every hour or two to clear your mind, or creating an advanced calendar of big goals so that you can use them as anchors for creating your calendar, but I’m a firm believer in the importance of sleep and the failure of too many entrepreneurs to make this essential body function a priority. No matter how well you believe you function on five or six hours of sleep per day, the truth is that there is a very small percentage of the population able to operate at peak capacity with less than seven hours of sleep per night. Adequate sleep improves your focus, your cognitive performance, your ability to accurately interpret the emotions and intentions of those around you, and your ability to remember. Your energy level will be higher and your mood will be elevated as well. By contrast, not getting the sleep that you need will make every single task you take on feel more challenging. When you’re creating your to-do list for the day, always plan your schedule so that you are able to get between seven to nine hours per day, and you’ll find that the rest of your tasks will fall into place a lot more easily.