Life hacks Self development

A Lazy Entrepreneur’s Guide to Time Management

Time is a finite resource and like your capital, inventory or profits, the success of your business depends on managing it well. As an entrepreneur, proper time management would aid you in delivering work on time, upscaling your business, and ensuring that you live your life while you pursue your goals.

Energy: Starting at the Very Beginning

In today’s world where being a workaholic is glorified, most entrepreneurs seem to overlook the fact that energy, like time, is limited, and there’s only so much of yourself that can go around in a day. If you have ever made time to do something, but you were too tired to do it when the time came, “you missed the first step“. Time management and Energy management go hand in hand, and you have to ensure that your mind and body are adequately prepared for the task you are about to do.

Therefore before I go into time management techniques, here are 6 tips to help ensure that you have the energy to do your work when the time comes.

  1. Get more sleep:  This one is a no-brainer really, if your body is well-rested you are bound to be more productive, increase your performance and boost your productivity.  It is recommended that you sleep at least 7 hours every night and you adopt winding down habits like avoiding the use of phones and other screens close to your bedtime.
  2. Get organized: Disorganization fuels procrastination, it makes it look like you have a lot to do even when you don’t. Also having a neat desk helps you reduce your worrying about what you have to do. Finally, research has shown that a person with a messy or cluttered desk spends on average 60-to-90 minutes looking for things or being distracted.
    The Bottomline: Organize your desk it saves time and reduces worry.
  3. Delegate: Busy doesn’t always equal productive. You should only dedicate your time and energy to things that are high on your priority list.
    Even as an entrepreneur you can practice delegation by hiring freelancers online( with sites like Fiverr or Upwork) to take some of the workloads off you. Calculating the value of your time will provide clarity on which task you can afford to delegate. If you can find help online for a task while you dedicate that time to doing something more productive you should go for it. Tasks like data entry and bookkeeping are commonly delegated.  
    Related: Could your time be worth much more than you think?
  4. Stay hydrated:  Water has been noted to help improve our focus and prevent us from feeling drained and fatigued. If your body is short of fluids, one of the first signs is a feeling of fatigue.
  5. Eat breakfast and eat nutritiously: People who eat breakfast every morning report less fatigue and stress than people who skip it. High-fibre foods, like hot oatmeal, stick with you longer than a sweet roll or pastry. As the day wears on, they’ll prevent you from getting hungry. Hunger can lead to a drop in your blood sugar levels which can make you feel fuzzy and weak as a result.
  6. Exercise more: Research has shown that you can reduce your tiredness by as much as 65% if you participate in low-intensity cycling. Exercise almost guarantees that you’ll sleep more soundly. It also gives your cells more energy to burn and circulates oxygen.

Related: 10 Natural Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels

Time Management Techniques

Based on 2021 research 82% of people don’t have a time management system. They just use a list, their email or nothing at all. But of the remaining 18% of people that have a system, the Eisenhower matrix was noted to be the most successful time management technique.  Therefore for the purpose of this article, I will focus on using the Eisenhower matrix.

Planning with the Eisenhower Priority Matrix

The Eisenhower matrix is a method that utilizes the principles of importance and urgency to organize your priorities and workload. It is a way for you to rank your priorities in terms of what you want to do and how important they are.

The Eisenhower matrix and its elements
  1. Important/Urgent: These tasks are done immediately and personally, e.g. crises, deadlines, and problems.
  2. Important/Not Urgent: These tasks get an end date and are done personally, e.g. relationships, planning, and recreation.
  3. Unimportant/Urgent: These tasks are delegated, e.g. interruptions, meetings, activities.
  4. Unimportant/Not Urgent: These tasks are dropped, e.g. time wasters, pleasant activities, trivia.

So first write down you’re to-do list, don’t worry about ranking them yet.  For instance:

  1. I have to complete a client project today.
  2. I want to exercise.
  3. I need to schedule my meetings.
  4. I want to catch up on social media.

Now fit each one of them into the Eisenhower matrix to identify your priority Something like this:

Example of The Eisenhower matrix with tasks/projects fitted in.

“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

After identifying your priorities with the Eisenhower matrix you need to ensure that you give it your optimum focus and limit procrastination, therefore like I said above, ensure you have your workplace organized.

Then you can adopt the Pomodoro technique to keep you focused.

Working with The Pomodoro technique

Once you have decided what to do, it’s time to curb procrastination or perfectionism whichever you’re currently battling.  The Pomodoro technique offers You 25-minute working stints and 5-minute breaks after.

It works like this:

  1. Decide on the task to be done. (You have done this at the Eisenhower stage)
  2. Decide how long you want to spend on the task. This is important because “projects tend to expand with the time allocated for it.” 
  3. Set the Pomodoro timer (typically for 25 minutes).
  4. Work on the task.
  5. End work when the timer rings and take a short break (typically 5–10 minutes).
  6. After three Pomodoros are done, take the fourth Pomodoro and then take a long break (typically 20 to 30 minutes). Once the long break is finished, return to step 2.

“If you give yourself one thing to do, it will take all day. If you give yourself two things to do, you get them both done. If you give yourself a dozen things to do, you may not get 12 done, but you’ll get seven or eight completed.”

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore -Productivity Institute
The Pomodoro technique.

A Pomodoro session is indivisible; when you’re interrupted during a Pomodoro, either the other activity must be recorded and postponed or the Pomodoro must be abandoned.

“Specific cases should be handled with common sense: If you finish a task while the Pomodoro is still ticking, the following rule applies: If a Pomodoro begins, it has to ring. It’s a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity for overlearning, using the remaining portion of the Pomodoro to review or repeat what you’ve done, make small improvements, and note what you’ve learned until the Pomodoro rings.”

Francesco Cirillo, Creator of the Pomodoro technique

Reconciling your Progress With Patience and Acceptance.

Although we aim for perfection in our plans, true perfection is impossible and at the end of the day, you must reconcile yourself with this fact. Don’t try to squeeze all of your remaining tasks into one final hour, instead allow your time for planning and practice to become a habit, stop when it’s time to stop and take your Rest
then Conduct a review:

  1. Review the activities you completed (ex: What objective did you accomplish? What outcome did you accomplish? Did you fulfill your target, objective, or outcome for the task?)
  2. Review the list of upcoming tasks and start reflecting on or updating them into an Eisenhower matrix for tomorrow.

Time Audits

At the end of each month look at everything you have been doing, see how they have influenced your objectives, what you need to change and what stays the same.

Ask yourself:

  • Where did you spend the most time?
  • Was your quality bolstered?
  • What unanticipated events affected your plans?
  • Did you stick to the time limits?
  • Was your planning overall effective?

All of these strategies and systems might seem a lot, but in practice, it shouldn’t take you more than 5-15 minutes to set up and you could even use apps on your phone to set up your priority matrix and schedule your meetings, thereby saving more time.
Remember “One hour of planning is said to be able to save 10 hours of doing”. So what do you have to lose?

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