Steve Jobs talked about time, and how it’s the most precious resource. It is true because once you lose five, ten or 60 minutes, you can never get it back. And when you’ve spent it on something fruitless, you’ll know the frustration that follows. Such is the situation for some entrepreneurs, especially for those who are still starting to build a business from the ground up.
Unfortunately, you rarely get enough time to do what you need. What you have is what you need to work with, so the concept of time management is crucial.
Why is time management important to an entrepreneur?
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: time is money. It’s especially true of the manufacturing industry in which downtime could translate to at least 5 percent loss in productivity.
The cost is even more staggering for online businesses; Amazon, for example, discovered 1 percent in lost sales with 100 millisecond of latency and a broker $4 million in lost revenues per millisecond if a trading platform is slow on the competition by 5 milliseconds. Clearly, every second of your time running a business is critical. And this is why time management matters.
So how do you manage it?
Learn to prioritize.
Urgent versus Important
Have you heard of the Eisenhower Method? It’s a time management principle that prioritizes tasks into four quadrants that break down your tasks into a “do,” “plan,” “delegate” and “eliminate.”
- Priority 1 Tasks are both urgent and important. (Do them immediately)
- Priority 2 Tasks are important but not urgent. (Schedule to do them later)
- Priority 3 Tasks are urgent but not important. (Delegate to someone else)
- Priority 4 Tasks are not urgent or important. (Eliminate them)
Dwight Eisenhower used this method (hence, it being named in the 34th president’s honor) to get things done as the head of his state and as a general in the U.S. Army. He used to say that what’s important isn’t always urgent and what’s urgent isn’t always important.
Once you’ve broken down your tasks, you’ll probably experience less time wastage and may even feel you don’t have as much to do as you always thought.
To support the application of the Eisenhower Method, determine tools and platforms that allow you to automate some of your process. If you don’t have a team to delegate, for instance, your social media content, use Hootsuite, Sprout Social or CoSchedule. Each tool features client management, social media planners, analytics and the like — everything you’ll likely need to run your social media on autopilot.
But a technique and a host of tools are not the only solutions to making sure you don’t waste time. You also need to plan a day or a couple hours to make sure you’ve got the right approach to managing your time.
Make Time to Plan for Time Management
In your haste to use the Eisenhower Method and the digital tools to automate your processes, you may forget to have time to think about these things. You’ll still need time to figure out your tasks and to identify which ones to do, plan, delegate and eliminate. And doing that is not just going to be a 10- or 15-minute task.
You need time for reflection. Is a certain meeting with a new client urgent or important — or both? Do you really need to be in a certain meeting, or can an assistant handle it? Which tasks in your day will have the most impact for your business?
And you must factor in potential disruptions; the unscheduled calls, the sudden chat with an employee or the urgent matter that just came up.
But Don’t Burnout
All of this sounds like a rigid structure that, over time, could see you burnt out. Even when you love doing something, do it often enough at the frenetic speed you’ll go, and it will leave you depleted.
Exhaustion could be avoided if you make it a point to take a break.
Everyone’s brain needs to recharge; this is what separates human resources from the machines. To recharge isn’t just about avoiding exhaustion. It’s also about preventing a disastrous mistake because when your brain is tired, it’ll miss details you don’t usually miss.
So as a new or experienced entrepreneur, find time to not do anything but relax and recharge. Time is valuable — and what is more valuable to the existence of a business than the head of the business.