Forbes: Simple Ways Entrepreneurs Can Save Time
Every entrepreneur knows how quickly time gets gobbled up. Before you know it, the month is over and you still have hundreds of unread emails and a stack of perpetually growing paperwork on your desk.
This is a common theme among all who pursue the excitement and rewards of any entrepreneurial endeavor, large or small. While the old adage, “Work smarter, not harder,” simply isn’t as easy as it sounds, entrepreneurs of all industries can increase efficiency by tweaking their routine to squeeze more time out of the day.
“A particular shot or way of moving the ball can be a player’s personal signature, but efficiency of performance is what wins the game for the team,” said Pat Riley, former NBA player and coach with a combined six NBA championship titles.
How efficient are you as an entrepreneur? Are you Pat Riley efficient? Six NBA titles may not be part of your journey, but having successful and profitable entrepreneurial wins are. Here are a few ways you can save time and crush your goals:
1. Make Structure A Priority
In order to have success as an entrepreneur, you need to have structure in your life. Sure, the very nature of being an entrepreneur means bucking the system and doing your own thing. However, it is essential to keep structure at your foundation to save time. Remember what Benjamin Franklin once said: “Time is money.”
By making structure a priority, you will find those daily tasks and weekly projects being checked off in a very timely manner. Structure allows you to focus more on the future, rather than staying hyper-focused on one simple thing.
And some say that structure serves up consistency.
In a Fast Company interview from a few years ago, Tony Stubblebine, the then CEO and co-founder of the app Lift, said, “The structure matters. People put all of this effort into optimization and research, but honestly everything we see about success rate says that the most important thing is to structure your goals so you can be consistent.”
Here are a few ways to make structure a priority:
• Take “switching costs” out of your daily time budget. The cost of the time it takes you to switch from one task to another, also known as multitasking, actually wastes time. Schedule a task, focus on it completely, and then move on to the next one.
• Schedule a time each day to check emails. Switching to and from your inbox can eat up a lot of time and it can suck you into replying to emails that don’t necessarily need to be answered right away. Checking email three times a day is optimal.
• Set up hours for phone calls. Like emails, phone calls can take up a lot of time. Make an hourly schedule to make and take calls, and let everyone know this is the best time to reach you. After lunch is always a good time to ease back into the day, and your mind will be relaxed and fresh.
• Set structured goals that can be built upon. For instance, one primary goal might be to land funding from XYZ. However, mapping out how you will accomplish that goal will save time and increase your success.
Placing importance on being more structured will also rub off on your team. Your flair for structure, time management and efficiency will make those you work with find organizational structure beneficial. Make it contagious among your team.
2. Understand The Difference Between Urgent And Important
Entrepreneurs are entrenched in projects, startups, brands, businesses and investments. The passion we have for our innovative ideas and future visions is what makes us so unique, special and successful. This passion for our work, sadly, can have a negative effect on our time management abilities.
In order to save time, you need to rethink what is actually urgent. Wrapping your head around the difference between “urgent” and “important” is absolutely vital. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important."
Entrepreneurs can often feel like everything is urgent when it comes to their passion projects. However, most of these “urgent” things -- tasks, emails and issues -- are only important.
Structure can assist in separating what's urgent from what's important. It will also help determine which is which. This tweak to your entrepreneurial mindset can save you valuable time and reduce a lot of daily stress.
Use the Eisenhower Box to determine what's important or urgent:
• When something is important and urgent: Your website is down or any other performance-related crisis at the office; paying vendors on time; paying rent for your office space.
• When something is important and not urgent: Saving for future projects, hiring another developer, ranking higher on Google, getting the recommended amount of sleep.
• When something is urgent and not important: Booking a flight and room to the conference you are presenting at, taking a call from potential investors, discussing timely product or service issues with your team.
• When something is not important and not urgent: Checking your social media accounts on your phone, answering questions that can be answered by someone else on your team.
If you are a hustling entrepreneur, then you know how important it is to squeeze as much time out of your day as humanly possible. There are a number of ways you can save time. The above serves as the foundation that will save you the most, but feel free to tackle other time savers once you have these in place. How do you save time as an entrepreneur?