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Every entrepreneur knows the struggle of not having enough hours in the day. This hits hard especially in the beginning stages of business, when establishing a web presence, and creating content. The baby entrepreneur isn’t big enough to afford to hire out some of the work (YET), but is right on the cusp of greatness. Having the time to accomplish that greatness is often the biggest struggle, but can be overcome with just a bit of strategy.
Set a Timer
Ever feel like time has stopped when you have a giant task to do within a few hours? Find yourself madly hustling during the last five minutes of your time to work on a project?
It’s time to capture that level of focus, and unleash it on your entire business.
Use a timer to help you with those “five more minutes.” Need to get Pinterest graphics created? Set a timer for a set amount of time – enough to get stuff DONE, but also short enough that you won’t have a numb butt at the end. I personally set a timer for 25 minutes like this – if I can get up and run around a little every 25 or 50 minutes, I can survive the amount of time it takes to get my task done.
At least, in the beginning, I think of it as survival.
I quickly learn to thrive off that timer – it allows me to sit down and get stuff done with focus and intentionality, because I know that I will be accomplishing that task, and will be able to get up and do something else shortly. This is important because my list is wide and varied.
Use Time Blocking
Along with the above suggestion to use a timer comes with a need to know HOW to use that time. You can’t just set a timer and look at your to-do list. You’ll probably do the same thing I do:
- Me: sets timer, pulls out to-do list
- Determines task – create an event on Facebook for training
- Opens Facebook
- Sees message notification; clicks over to messenger to see if it’s important
- Oh, it’s a quick one, I can answer that
- Answers message. Takes longer than planned. Oops.
- Back to the Facebook app
- Sees ad for a training course that is in an area I need to grow in
- Clicks ad; reads landing page
- Takes notes on the landing page, so I can learn from what they did right
- Scrolls through to see what other content this coach has made
- Reads comments on a post about their training to see if it’s any good
- Timer dings. I didn’t get anything done.
Do you feel me there? Without a strategy, I cannot get anything done – or, I can get one or two things done, and the rest of my tasks suffer. When my tasks suffer, I don’t move forward, and I don’t make any money. I lower the return of my time investment by not focusing.
Block Out Distractions
If utterly possible, create a workspace for yourself. When I REALLY want to get stuff done, I have a small marble-patterned TV tray that I use. Our house isn’t big enough for me to have a dedicated workspace, and I’m ok with that – I like the mobility of my laptop at this time.
However, when I need to GET. IT. DONE., I pull out that foldable tray. I set it up, and it’s got room for my computer, mouse, and a cup. Nothing else. Well, maybe a snack. But nothing else. Nada.
I put my headphones on, with some instrumental music, and get my tasks accomplished.
I’m not jumping up to take care of other things, I’m not being interrupted. It allows me to be able to actually complete the tasks that I have planned to do.
Also – let me through it out there – I close the other windows in my browser when I do this. If you’re like me, you typically have about 8-10 tabs in your browser open. Nope. It’s time to close all of those tabs and focus. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Pinterest. Those things are lovely in their time, but they are not conducive to getting stuff done. I cannot accomplish my tasks if my attention is elsewhere.
For those of you with jobs (like me) or with children (not like me), these uninterrupted moments are golden. They MUST be scheduled and protected.
In college, I took a musical elective – harp. I loved that class, and each week, as part of my homework, I turned in a “practice card.” This was a log of the hours that I practiced. Instead of just going to the practice rooms where the harps were stored whenever I could, I instead scheduled my practice times. I treated it like an appointment that I could not miss. I found that the more faithful I was to that appointment, the more I came to love and crave those hours. The best part was, I got results from those hours of practice.
It’s the same in business – when you establish disciplines, it’s hard at first. You have to treat those times as an appointment that you simply cannot miss. Write it down in your planner; hire a babysitter or do a “sitter swap” with another mom so that you can trade off uninterrupted time to work. I won’t paint a rosy picture of perfection; it takes WORK to get that habit established.
Once you do, however, it becomes something you long for and crave.
These are my three time management “hacks” – how do you practice effective time management to get your tasks accomplished?