Life as an entrepreneur is hectic. You’re in charge of everything. Not only do you have to sell whatever product or service you’re offering, but you also have to ensure that the operational side of the business runs smoothly each day. Ongoing tasks like bookkeeping, invoicing, and expense monitoring can’t be done by just anyone, so you’re also in charge of those tasks. An entrepreneur’s work never ends.
So let me ask you this: When was the last time you had any free time?
That may sound like a joke, but it’s not. Everyone needs a little downtime once in a while. Without a break from the daily stress of running a business, many entrepreneurs burn out quickly, falling victim to fatigue, stress, and overall exhaustion. These conditions lead to health problems that can often be avoided by taking a few minutes during the day to slow down and breathe.
Believe it or not, you can carve out free time in your day. You just have to know how to do it.
Creating More Time In Your Day
I’ve learned that life is short. Enjoying it now — not waiting for the future — is one of the most essential privileges in life. But that’s hard to do when you’re running in a million directions.
I’ve discovered a few tricks during my entrepreneurial career that have helped me carve out time to reflect and appreciate what I have now while I’m still in the process, not just later when I’ve achieved all my business goals. Here are some tactics I use to free up a few minutes during the day for reflection and mental relaxation.
One of the best ways to free up time is to delegate tasks to others. This is hard for entrepreneurs who are used to doing everything. But delegating part of the work is an effective way to ensure repetitive but necessary tasks get done while allowing you to focus on more significant responsibilities. By trusting team members to handle some of the work, you’re also demonstrating your trust in them and making them feel like part of the team at the same time.
#2. Learn to Say No
Another great way to free up time during the workday is to say no to requests that don’t really need your attention or don’t keep the business moving forward. Saying no is difficult for many people, and it takes practice to do it tactfully. But once mastered, the art of saying no may become your best time-freeing tool!
You don’t need to say no to everything. The trick is to discern which requests are pertinent to creating business success and which aren’t. Some can be delegated (see #1 above) or declined altogether.
Refusing a request can be done without being rude. Be courteous, show respect, thank the requestor for thinking of you, and let them know you need to decline the project, meeting, offer, etc., at this time.
#3. Schedule Blocks of Time
Time-blocking is another effective strategy for organizing your day. By allocating blocks of time for specific tasks during the day, you ensure that everything gets done efficiently. The catch is that you must protect your time blocks for this tactic to work. Put them on the calendar just as you would a meeting, and then treat them with equal importance.
When a scheduled block arises, close the office door, and focus on the project designated for that time slot. Regularly using this tactic will result in significant progress each day and help you feel like you’re accomplishing more in a day.
#4. Handle Email Efficiently
A considerable portion of any entrepreneur’s day is spent reading and replying to emails. This can be an incredible time interrupter. Whenever you stop to answer an email, you lose traction on whatever task you’re working on. It can take an hour or more to get back into the flow and pick up where you left off.
Block out time each day to handle email (see #3 above), and don’t touch it until that time arrives. This prevents interruptions that keep you from accomplishing what needs to be accomplished that day.
When the designated “email” time block arrives, use it wisely. Read through each email and either answer, file, or delete it. Don’t read it, and then leave it sitting in your email box. This just clutters up your inbox and makes it more daunting than necessary.
#5. Prioritize What Needs To Be Done
Organizing tasks in order of importance is essential to being successful in any endeavor. That also applies to running a business.
An effective business owner spends time prioritizing work. Create a to-do list, putting the most vital activities at the top and less critical ones at the bottom. Then start down the list and cross items off as you go.
You’ve Got This!
Every entrepreneur struggles with time management. It’s part of the job. But there are ways to make the workday go further. Adopting these tactics now will help you be more efficient, foster teamwork, ward off exhaustion, and give you a much-needed break in the day without compromising your business goals. And that means when you meet those goals, you’ll be refreshed and ready to celebrate!