Take Back Your Time with These Strategies, Ideas, and Tools
For entrepreneurs running busy operations, the most precious resource in the world is time. The way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives and most people waste a lot of time due to inefficient strategies and tools. Instead of trying to so rigidly control everything, it’s worth taking time to engage some strategies and tools like time management to help you be more productive.
It’s important to keep your eyes on your goal. The concept of saving time isn’t a goal unto itself. The idea is to increase productivity, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the state or quality of being productive.” Productive in turn is defined in part as “yielding results, benefits, or profits.” In the business world, the only X factor between your workload, resources, and output is efficiency. For entrepreneurs, productivity is defined by the ability to be both effective and efficient. The more we can be aware of the effectiveness of our efforts, the better our operations will be.
Set Fake Deadlines
The writer Neil Gaiman once gave a speech with a wildly effective formula for successful freelancers: “The work is good, they’re easy to get along with, and they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.”
Deadlines are a very humane tool for making the most of your work week. Add weekly reminders to your calendar to work on key activities—just set them one day ahead of the actual due date. That way, if something unexpected should come up, you will have time to finish up the task by the real deadline.
Adopt Productivity Apps that Work
There are thousands of recommendations out there for productivity and time management apps, all easily available with a Google search, and they seem to change from hour to hour. Instead of jumping onto the latest craze, spend some time seeking out time-tested and effective apps that genuinely help save time. A few recommendations might include:
- Google Docs and Google Drive: I worked last year with a busy entrepreneur who kept all of her documentation, calendar, and other essential works on her laptop’s physical hard drive, which didn’t do her much good when she spilled an entire mug of coffee on it. After that, her husband convinced her to keep all of her work in the cloud via Google Drive and Google Docs. Not only did it allow her to access her work anytime, she could also share it with her entire team for collaborative work sessions.
- Trello is a great application for project planning and review that is also effective for planning meetings, strategy sessions, and quarterly reviews.
- Whether you use Google Calendar, Outlook, or something offbeat like Fantastical, bring some thoughtfulness to your calendar, meaning set some rules for your day. Remember, your calendar is not your to-do list; it’s the way to manage your most precious resource: time.
- Finally, Slack is a great app for communicating important tasks, updates, and other content to your team. It’s fast and light, lends itself to a bit of fun, and puts everything your team needs in one place so your team members aren’t scrambling for the information they need.
Investigate a New Type of Planning
Most entrepreneurs approach planning as most business people do, which is using time management planning (to-do lists, task scheduling, etc.) to work through their day. Some, however, are looking to a new model known as “contingent planning”, which considers the potential disruptions that typically occur and devises a plan to address them.