I don’t know about you, but as a busy entrepreneur and content creator, I often feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Time management can be a real challenge when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities and tasks — between home life, work life, and everything blended in between. But don’t worry, I’ve got some time management tips and strategies that have helped me, and I hope they will also help you make the most of your time so that you can achieve your goals — or at least get you a little closer.
Identify Tasks & Set Priorities
It’s all too easy to get sidetracked by small tasks and distractions. Prioritizing your most important tasks and completing them first can help to avoid disasters.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about time management skills is the importance of deliberately identifying tasks. In business, there are so many moving parts that it’s essential to identify the tasks to be sure that the most important ones don’t get lost in the minutiae. For clarity and focus, I like to create both physical and digital reminders.
For digital reminders, simple note lists work well for me. Programs like Evernote and Trello are great for this. I prefer the simplicity of the default notes app on my Mac. It’s easy to use and organize, and it’s on all of my devices. Creating detailed task lists of the steps that need to be taken each time a larger task is done can be so helpful. For example, I created a list of things that need to be done every time I create a blog post. It looks something like this:
Of course, I don’t need to do all things for every article I publish, but this helps me identify what can be done without having to put any extra effort into thinking about it each time. I know exactly what needs to be done and in approximately what order.
I love sticky notes for physical reminders. They’re big (easy to read) and colorful. I’ve been using a binder to compile tasks inside (just one task per note) — with the most urgent and important ones placed on the front cover. To play off of the example from above, if I want to post an article each week, I might add a note with “Weekly Article” written on it. It helps keep it visually top of mind and I know to reference my digital to-do list for the rest. Notebooks and planners are great for all of this, too. I’ve just found having important tasks on the outside cover to be game-changing for me.
Whether it’s a specific project you’re working on or something related to your business, like invoicing or social media posts, focusing on the most important tasks and finding ways to streamline the mental load will help you make the best use of your time.
Creating A Schedule — Or Not
Creating a routine can be a helpful way to manage your time effectively. This could be a daily routine that includes blocking out time for specific tasks or activities that you want to focus on each day, like writing blog posts, invoicing, or creating social media content. Many people swear by this and I’ve heard firsthand the wonders of how this method works for people. If this sounds like you, a calendar, planner, or whiteboard can be a great tool to help you keep track of your schedule and set reminders for important tasks. Apps for digital reminders are great, too.
That said, my brain doesn’t work that way. I’ve found that working at my own pace with more broad guidelines but firm deadlines works better. I also tend to work with my energy and creativity levels, so if I’m feeling productive I run with it and if I’m feeling low, I don’t force it. I find that the best work doesn’t usually come from that. Of course, hard deadlines are a thing, in which case I like to use the default calendar app and timers on my phone as gentle reminders to help me be aware of what’s coming up and stay on pace. While strict work schedules aren’t for me, I have forced myself to get in the habit of scheduling downtime to prevent burnout. It’s not always easy to step away, but it does seem to help overall productivity, creativity, and makes it easier to find the motivation to get started again.
I recommend trying a few methods and seeing what works best for you — and remembering that you don’t feel like there is one ideal, one-size-fits-all solution. The best way is the one that works for you.
Utilizing Business Tools & Aids
Using tools that help with organization and productivity can be a game changer. There is a wide range of apps, programs, and resources that can help you with everyday tasks like social media content creation, billing, writing, website optimization, automation, and more. Automation is one of my favorite tools. It does require some work to build a system that works for you and is still engaging and fresh for your audience, but in combination with batching your workload, you can save a ton of time. For example, you can use automation tools to schedule your social media posts in advance or to send out automated email responses to your clients based on specific actions taken or other criteria — freeing up your time and allowing you to focus on the other important tasks that need your attention.
You can also create your own tools. It might not be an app, but you likely have a lot of repetitive tasks that you can easily save time on by saving templates and scripts. For example, these are great for email drafts, formatting and writing blog posts, creating social media posts, or sending invoices. You will still want to tailor your templates for each final product, but it gives you a place to start and allow you to be consistent and focus on the creative aspects of your work rather than spending extra time on repetitive tasks.
Batching Your Work
I briefly touched on this above, but doing your work in batches is a great way to get into a groove, be consistent, and produce a lot of content at once. Batching helps maximize productivity by grouping similar tasks and working on them in bulk, rather than working on a variety of tasks in a similar timeframe. For example, instead of creating a new graphic every time you want to post on Instagram, you might spend the day creating as many as you can all at once. By batching your work, you can focus on one task at a time, rather than switching between different tasks, which can be time-consuming and distracting.
Entrepreneurship is multifaceted, and it can become difficult to handle all of the tasks and responsibilities on your own. To manage your time more effectively, you might consider outsourcing or delegating certain tasks to others.
It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that, despite my best intentions, I could not do it all. Removing something entirely from your plate and headspace is a gift. I don’t have the budget to offload much, but what I can get help with enables me to make sure things continue to get done in many other areas of my life and business.
Taking the time to identify the things that you struggle to do consistently, dread doing, or just feel that would be easy enough for someone else to do is a good place to start. This could be hiring a freelancer to handle your social media accounts or outsourcing certain tasks to a virtual assistant. Additionally, you can also consider hiring coaches or professionals to help you with topics like time management, productivity, and work-life balance.
Groups for creators and entrepreneurs are perfect for asking for recommendations and connecting with freelance media managers, virtual assistants, graphic designers, and so much more.
Saying “No” As Self Care
Learning when to say no and take breaks is important for effective time management. I used to have a hard time saying “no” to tasks and projects, but over time I’ve learned that it’s important to set boundaries and not take on more than I can handle. This doesn’t mean solely focusing on one’s self and what is essential to your own needs, but by learning to decline tasks that will overtax you, you’ll be better able to keep your workload in check. Not overextending yourself may be arguably the best form of self-care.
Managing time as an entrepreneur is about finding what works for you and attempting to find some semblance of balance so that the pathway to your goals is both sustainable and attainable. I hope that something in this list resonates with you and proves helpful in your own journey as an entrepreneur.
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