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Everybody knows the saying “Time is money”. It’s a phrase so old that the creator has been lost to the mists of time and exhausted minds. Time is, by far, the most elusive resource when it comes to building a company and creating a product.
Every action has an opportunity cost, as does every inaction. So how does the entrepreneur handle the challenge of time versus tasks, especially when the latter seem to pile up like emails in an untended inbox?
Every action has an opportunity cost, as does every inaction. So how can an entrepreneur improve their time management skills?
Here then are six tips from one entrepreneur to another.
1. The 80/20 rule
When there is more to do than there is time to do it in, invoke the maxim of 80/20 (that 20% of your clients are likely to cover 80% of your sales). It is the rule of ruthless prioritisation and intense focus.
This comes down to trust. If you can find people who are as committed to your end goal as you are, use them. Not just for the tasks you don’t want to do, but for those you want to do, but can’t.
Obviously, the task should be suitable for the person, but the point is that if you have people you can trust, then you can afford to delegate. The more they do these kinds of tasks, the more they will learn and the more they will be empowered to take things off your plate in the future.
This is tricky – it can end up taking more of your time than it saves. In theory, giving work to specialists in their field should help you free up your time. Sometimes it works that way.
Other times, their specialisation means they’ve seen everything and don’t take the time to properly understand your business so you end up managing their work and of course correcting their actions. And this costs you both time and money.
The best thing to do is to test people out and switch if it doesn’t work, as quickly as possible. The rule of thumb we have is simple – if your contractor asks a lot of questions and pays attention, they are genuinely interested in what you do.
4. Take a step back
A lot of time can be taken up by fighting fires. The constant flow of problems and issues that stick you onto a hamster wheel and you are so busy running in place you’re not sure what you’ve achieved at the end of each day.
It is important to routinely take yourself out of that mindset and think several steps ahead. Not only is this important for your business, but it gives you enough perspective to recognise where you are spending relevant time and where you are wasting time.
5. Don’t do it
It’s easy to end up doing things. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, makers and doers. In an environment where there is always stuff to do, then it is easy to get lost in the doing.
What is extremely difficult is to determine what not to do and then to not actually do it.
6. Put it in the calendar
Your calendar, to do list organiser, app and notebook are your friends. Put happy things in there like dinner and drinks. Put useful things in there like exercise and studies.
Put personal things in there like “me time” – an often-misused term that translates into wellness and capacity and energy. Put every appointment and booking and follow-up in there.
After a while, you will have got yourself into the habit of doing things that help you manage your time and establish a routine.
Arjun Khoosal, is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Kandua.com