How to build an exceptional business: learn how to manage your time!
I consider control of my own schedule to be one of the biggest perks of my job but I can’t stress enough how important it is, for any entrepreneur, to manage your time effectively.
I’ve been told by many that they envy me for this. Entrepreneurs are infamous for loving our autonomy over time, and people
tell me they wish they could, “get out of bed whenever they wanted” or “work in their sweats all day.” But, I’m positive they don’t understand much about being a successful entrepreneur at all.
In fact, I’d venture to say that a flexible schedule is one of the the most widely misunderstood traits of entrepreneurship.
If you’re anything like me, you started your own business because of your drive to, as my entrepreneur coach says, “design your life around your passion and sense of meaning.” It has to do with knowing you couldn’t be fulfilled doing anything else.
This, my friends, has to do with such a deep commitment to finding success on your own terms that you’re willing to work twice or three times what you might have otherwise in order to get there. It has absolutely nothing to do with getting up halfway into the afternoon or wearing your favorite cat jammies all day.
Here’s the problem: entrepreneurs are also infamous for wearing many, many hats. So many, in fact, that sometimes it can be difficult to describe what you “do.”
On any given day, I spend time writing, communicating with my Ugandan managers, filing paperwork and finances, fulfilling orders, running social media, sending out sales pitches and managing client relations. Productivity and time management don’t come naturally. I’ve found that distractions can and will take over my physical and mental space if I am not extremely mindful. They can make it incredibly difficult to know what to do next.
If I’m not careful, I get overwhelmed before the coffee hits.
Here is what I’ve learned about keeping that precious control over my time: my schedule has to exist out of ritual, and my work has to exist in a routine.
My most effective ritual happens on Saturday night before I go out to meet my friends. I sit down with my notebook, and I plan my week in two hour time blocks. Each two hour time block will receive a 1-5 rating the next week – with 1 being time wasted and 5 being time spent efficiently (watch Robin Sharma’s video, 4 Habits for an Awesome 2013 for more ideas on this. The following Friday, I spend my evening train ride rating my week, and journaling about what did and did not make it successful.
My routine exists around this ritual. I have learned that I work best if I wake up at the same time each morning, and I begin with the same activity. So, I get up before six and I prepare for my day. From six to eight I work on writing. From eight to ten I work on sales related tasks. From ten to twelve I work on research for sales expansion.
When this routine needs to shift due to meetings or deadlines, among other things, I fall back on my larger ritual – my monthly plan.
Each month, I have measurable goals to meet within my business as part of a larger annual plan. I plan these in a two hour meeting with my entrepreneur coach. This meeting revolves around an annual vision map and financial projection set at the beginning of the year. This enables me to measure success, each month, in terms of both revenue and innovation. And, when my schedule needs to shift, I know what its important to make time for and what it isn’t.
I organize my tasks, take meetings and plan my days based on deadlines, financial goals and the needs of the company. This helps me form a workable, reasonable schedule – and keep that beautiful feeling of time control that us entrepreneurs love so very much.