Running your own business provides you with almost unlimited freedom. At least that would be the case if you didn’t have to get through about a million tasks. Entrepreneur’s are often motivated by freedom and living life on their own terms.
This is great and all but what about those of us that need some kind of structure to make sure we get everything done on time? If you are dealing with clients, you have firm deadlines to work to and this helps with time management.
After all, you’re less likely to put things off if you know that means upsetting your highest paying client.
What about those other things that go into building a business?
When you need to put together a new marketing campaign, find new clients, reach out to more partners or create your next product, how are able to find the time?
This is a challenge that is unique to entrepreneurs or the self employed. You don’t have a boss to tell you what to do and when it needs to be done by. The responsibility falls entirely on you.
With these time management techniques at your disposal, you can get more out of your day and achieve those goals at lightning speed.
Ripping off the bandaid
We have all been guilty of this. By putting off those uncomfortable or unpleasant tasks, you run the risk of derailing your whole day. Maybe it is an awkward email to a client or a phone call with someone you don’t enjoy talking to. Whatever it is, it needs to get done to move you forward.
While you might think that putting off these tasks is a good idea in the moment, it continues to add stress to your body and mind. As time goes on, this stress can be paralysing and lead to further procrastination. Before you know it, the day has gone by and nothing meaningful got done.
Time to rip off the bandaid. Pull the trigger and do the thing that makes you uncomfortable. Relish in how good it feels to get the job done and use this as a basis for the next time you need to get that one painful thing done for the day.
1. Slice the Pie
Whether you are a freelancer or a creative, taking on big projects can be a nightmare if you have no idea where to start. It becomes even worse when you know the deadline is ticking closer and you have made virtually no progress.
Every major project needs to be broken into bite size pieces. This helps you not only have a better sense of how to manage your time but gives you that dopamine rush when you can tick it off the list. Trying to take on a massive project all at once can be daunting and will feel more like running a marathon with the finish line way off in the distance.
Take for example writing a blog or uploading daily videos to a new channel. When we want to take on a project like this, we can feel overwhelmed with how much is involved. Rather than focusing on just the one piece of content, we feel that we need to think of everything from the branding, the topics, the images we want to use, how we will reach our audience and how it will benefit us in the end.
Rather than exhausting yourself thinking of every possibility, start with one task. Finish the content first and tick that off. Once that’s done, then start exploring everything else.
2. Habit Stacking
This one I have found to be super useful when it comes to adding new habits and hobbies to my routine. Habit stacking is building habits on from existing ones. For example, if you would like to start going to the gym more, rather than trying to find time after work or in the morning, simply add it to an existing part of your routine. If you walk your dog every afternoon after work, set the intention that you will go to the gym straight after you warm up with the walk. Give yourself no choice but to follow through from one task to the next.
It might start out a little rusty, you will face some resistance. The key is to not let this disrupt you from building a new habit. Instead, you want to get your brain into the pattern of completing one task and then moving onto the next without having to consciously make the decision every time.
Another example could be learning a new skill. Instead of setting the intention that you will get it done at some point in the day or when you have “free time”, set the intention right after finishing something that would normally be done each day. It could be as simple as learning to play guitar straight after brushing your teeth or writing a book when you finish cooking dinner. Flow with your routine, not against it.
3. Focused Work Time
Setting yourself 8 hours to get your work done is pretty standard. It takes up a good chunk of the day and ensures that you can get everything you need done out of the way. The problem is, that is not always the case. You may feel like you are working a full 8 hours but by taking a closer look at how you spend your time, there are definitely some productivity gaps.
The solution is to set aside 3 to 4 hours of intensely focused work.
This is where you will get all those big, scary tasks done that will move you forward the most. Your breaks are limited and all distractions are removed. Set up no more than three tasks you want to accomplish in this time. If you feel that one or more will take longer than your focused time, break it down further into smaller tasks until you feel comfortable completely all tasks within the allocated time.
Prioritise focused work time in the morning or at the start of your normal work schedule. This will help you get the most important tasks out of the way on time and allow you to recharge while you do the less important things later in the afternoon.
4. Set Deadlines for Every Task
Not having a boss can mean you are free to complete tasks at your own leisure. The downside is that you might enjoy too much leisure to the point where tasks can drag on or not be completed at all.
To avoid this, every task needs a deadline. Having a firm deadline not only keeps things moving, you can really challenge yourself to see how much you can actually get done and continuously improve your productivity over time.
If you struggle to stick to your self imposed deadlines, create a reward system for completion. Think of something you really enjoy. It might be watching a movie, going out to dinner or even taking a dip in the pool. Whatever it is, set yourself up to enjoy that activity with every completion. If you achieve 3 projects in a month, treat yourself to dinner 3 times. If you get everything on your to-do list completed in a day, enjoy a movie before bed. You earned it!