Proper time management skills are essential for entrepreneurs and business owners as you are now responsible for every part and decision required to run your business. If you don’t have a solid handle on time management, it's easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down in the day-to-day grind. Thus, I put together the following list of techniques for Time Management for Mom Entrepreneurs and Business Owners.
What is Time Management?
According to Wikipedia, time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.
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Why is time management for Mom Entrepreneurs And Solo Entrepreneurs important?
Time management is important for every entrepreneur as we all have only 24 hours a day. So it is a limited resource. In addition, the time once gone is gone forever. So how you spend your time productively is going to make the difference between whether you succeed or fail in the long run.
Time management for mom entrepreneurs and side entrepreneurs who are still working in their day jobs is even more important. This is because they usually have very limited time and energy available after all the daily chores and the office hours of their day jobs. Therefore, it is essential that they spend those hours optimally to get the most out of them.
How do you manage time?
To manage time, you first need to be aware of where your time goes currently. So you can first start with a time audit. I have also listed the time management tips for entrepreneurs and the process to do it below.
Start with an honest time audit
If you want to be more productive, start by being honest with yourself about how you're actually spending your time. Keep a time log for a week and track everything you do, from the big projects you're working on to the small tasks that take up a few minutes here and there.
This is a discovery process, so keep an open mind and be non-judgmental about it. Just record down what you do in a day as it is. It is only meant for your eyes only, so be honest about it. Do not beautify it and change it because you feel guilty about wasting time on certain things you do.
After 7 days, review your time audit result and look at what you have been spending your time on. For more details on how to run a time audit, check out the following article: Where does your time go each day? How to run a time audit in 5 steps
List down your tasks and do task prioritization
After performing a time audit and realizing how you have been spending your time currently, the next thing to do is to brainstorm and list down all the tasks that you need to do or want to do. The best way to do this is to actually record the tasks down either on a piece of paper or your notebook.
Alternatively, you can also use a note-taking app to keep your list. You need to record all the tasks either in written form or in a computer note so that it can free your mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Once you have a list of what needs to be done, you should then prioritize your tasks. Stephen Covey, in his famous book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, advocated you can use a 2 by 2 Matrix (like the next diagram) to help you prioritize your tasks in terms of urgency and importance.
Use The “Pareto Principle” To Prioritize Your Tasks
Another way that can help you prioritize your task is by adopting the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80/20 rule. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.
You can get 80% of your work done with just 20% of your time and effort. This principle can be applied to any area of your life, including work, school, and personal projects.
You need to find out what are the 20% most essential tasks (hence high-value tasks) that will contribute to the 80% of your result and do them from those tasks you are currently doing.
For the other 80% of the tasks, you need to find out a way to work smarter, either by delegating it to someone else or do them more efficiently.
Schedule your time using Time Blocking
A schedule is an entrepreneur's best friend, as it can save you so much time and frustration. It is always a great way to keep you organized between your professional and personal life.
Anything you plan to do should be scheduled into your task calendar so you know exactly when and what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Again, you can use the time audit result to help you.
Through time audit, you can estimate how much time you need to perform a certain task. You can then have a fundamental understanding of how long it takes. This way, you know you are not under or over scheduling your work. It won't be a valuable tool if you constantly go over schedule.
I use Google Calendar for daily scheduling as it's easy to record and make change with it. Also, since it's web-based, I could easily access it anywhere.
When you do the scheduling, you would fill in those urgent and important priority tasks first. This is what Stephen Covey called the Big Rocks in his book.
For example, I always fill in my daily schedule with my morning routine, my meal time with family, shower time and sleeping time before anything else. Since meal time with my family is important to me, I fill it in so that time is reserved for it and will not be overlooked because of other things that crop up.
The rest of the items are important to me as my morning routine sets the right tone for the rest of my day while shower time and sleeping time make sure I get enough relaxation and sufficient sleep. So self-care should also be an important part when you try to manage your time.
Schedule tasks according to your energy level throughout the day
There is a school of thought that says you shouldn't be managing your time but you should manage your energy instead.
Therefore, you need to know your energy throughout the day (i.e. your productive hours) and work on those more important tasks which take more concentration and energy from you during these productive hours. Read What is Your Energy Balance? – Embracing Intensity to learn how you can find your energy balance.
Are you more energetic in the morning or in the afternoon? If you are more energetic in the morning, perhaps you should put all your important tasks that demand a lot of attention from you in the morning. On the other hand, if you are more energetic in the afternoon then you should make good use of the afternoon hours.
Block out time for strategy
Another important thing to block out time for is the time to think and strategize. You need to dedicate a chunk of time to thinking about your business goals, objectives, and how you're going to achieve them.
This planning is essential so that you always have the big picture in mind and are in control of where your business is going. Whether it's an hour every week or a day every quarter, make sure you have dedicated time to work on your business strategy. This will be time well spent instead of just doing and doing with little thinking.
When I first started scheduling, I was too ambitious and scheduled too much things to be completed only to realize that they take much longer after doing them. So don't forget to leave some breathing room for yourself and remember to schedule some little pockets of white space time to catch up on things that take longer.
Last but not least, don't forget to have a list of items that can be completed in 5 to 10 minutes handy. So that when you are in-between meetings or you have some time while waiting for your kids you can try to complete some of these tasks.
And if you ever find yourself falling behind your scheduled time, just make adjustment the next day. Do not blame yourself or feel guilty as you are learning and you will do it better and better with more practice going forward.
Set a time limit for everything
I am most guilty of this as I tend to fall into the perfectionist trap when working. I always want to spend more time to make it more perfect. But do realize that done is better than perfect. Otherwise you could spend so much time to perfect it but it never gets finished or time.
If you want to get things done, you need to set a time limit for everything. That way, you'll be more likely to focus and get the task done within the allotted time. Tell yourself that you can always come out with the first cut and perfect it later.this,
You can use a Pomodoro timer such as Pomofocus to help you with this.
Keeping a time log
Like doing the time audit at the start, I find it helpful to keep a time log. This involves writing down everything you do in a day, including how long each activity takes.
If you use Google Calendar like me to keep your schedule, you would already have some time of time log as you live and adjust the time taken for you to complete tasks. At the end of the day, you can then review your time log and see where you may have wasted time.
How to avoid wasting time
It is not enough to just schedule your time but you also need to watch out for time-wasting activities as they are just time-vampires. Once you know what they are, you can take steps to avoid them.
Time-wasting activities can include things like watching too much television (yes, those Netflix series), browsing the Social Media feed like Facebook, or playing video games. If you find yourself doing these things, try to set limits for yourself. For example, you could allow yourself to watch one hour of television per day.
Find ways to beat procrastination
Procrastination can be the death of your dreams and ideas. It can prevent them from ever getting off the ground. You can't expect success if you don't do the work. Furthermore, an inconsistent schedule or work delivery can damage the trust and creditability you need to build a solid and successful business.
Therefore, the best way to tackle procrastination when you don't feel like doing something is to just start by taking one “stupid small step” that will help contribute to what you want to do.
For example, if you want to write a book, start by writing the first paragraph. That is an achievement in itself and it will then help you generate the natural momentum. I learned this from the book Mini Habits.
Time management for multitasking
As an entrepreneur, we have a thousand and one things to do and there are many things on our plates, so people have been wondering how to manage time when you need to multi-task.
In reality, most likely you're not able to multitask and do things well. This is because our minds are meant to focus on one thing at a time. There's a study which says that when we try to “multitask” and do a bit of a few things, it actually make us less productive since we need to switch between contexts of doing different things.
Therefore, when people talk about my multitasking, what they actually mean is they want to accomplish many tasks in a period of time. To do that, you can make use of the scheduling technique mentioned earlier to allocate reasonable time to complete each task you want to do and do them. Another technique is to work in batches.
Work in Batches and With Deadlines
Batch work is where you make sure the tasks you start with and work on during your productive hours are similar. This way, you are using your time more efficiently by not going back and forth.
For example, you can schedule all your social media posts for one month at one go or recording the videos at one sitting.
Document your processes with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Another way to increase efficiency is to set up Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to document your processes and make use of templates and checklists. This is because you do not want to start everything from scratch, which takes a lot of time.
By documenting your learning and processes along the way, you will teach someone else to do it, i.e. delegate or outsource the tasks easily in the future. This is also important as it will lead to faster time to market.
Buy Time by Delegating or Buying Expertise
If you're short on time, one way to get things done quickly is to buy expertise. Some other people that you can help you are your friends and family. Can you train them to take over some tasks? Time management for mom entrepreneurs is particularly important for this part, as many moms want to do everything for their family.
Ask yourself whether you have to do everything yourself. Be resourceful and think whether you have some friends that may have expertise in some of these things that can help to do it faster and if you do, reach out to them for help.
Buying expertise could mean outsourcing by hiring a virtual assistant to handle lower-value and low growth tasks like scheduling and email management, or paying someone to do your grocery shopping.
Put a dollar value to the things you do. If you spend all your time doing $5 tasks like clearing your emails, then yo would be left with no time to do the $500 tasks like strategizing for your business.
Leverage on Productivity Tools and Technology
Technology and automation can help you a lot for social media and other marketing strategies entrepreneurs need to make. Many tools make it easy to automate important yet tedious and repetitive tasks. The following are some tools and automation software that can help you automate your online business:
Personal Efficiency Tools
TextExpander – TextExpander is an app that lets you summon up content with a couple of keystrokes. The content is anything you save—words, phrases, paragraphs, images—and assign an abbreviation for. I use this to save time from having to repeatedly typing frequently used phrases when I reply emails or messages.
AI writers such as ClosersCopy and ContentBot – I use these to help counter writer's block and give me ideas. You can find out how to choose a good AI writer from my earlier article, The best AI writer software.
VoiceIn – Voice In chrome extension lets you use speech to text to type on any website. Use Voice In to dictate emails in Gmail, message in Slack, etc. I use this to speed up my blog writing as sometimes I find it faster to verbalize my thoughts and then edit it.
Time management tools for business
There are several time management apps and tools available to help you stay on top of your schedule. From simple to-do lists to more complex project management tools, there is an app or tool to suit every need.
These tools can help you plan your calendar, organize tasks, and manage your time. Some of the more popular ones include:
Rescue Time – RescueTime is a time management app that helps you to track your time on desktop and mobile app automatically. It also sends you a weekly report on how productive you are compared to the previous week.
Google Calendar – I use this to keep track of my time. I also use its Task function to set reminders and to-dos.
Task management apps and tools
These tools help you manage your tasks and projects. Some of the more popular ones include:
Trello – I use this to document and organize my SOPs. I also share my SOPs with my teammate. It has a free plan with limited functions.
Star Infinity – Similar to Trello but is more flexible as it can help you organize all your work your Way. You can also build automations with it. It is available as a onetime payment rather than a monthly subscription. I started with Trello and moved to Infinity.
Process Street – Process Street is an app that helps to manage recurring checklists and procedures. It has many templates available and has a generous free plan. I use this to get a starting idea on processes so that I don't need to start everything from scratch.
Communication apps and tools
The following are some communication tools and apps that can help you make the most of your social media marketing: Social media and marketing automation tools are becoming a popular method of staying in touch with followers, fans and subscribers.
Klaviyo – Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform that automates SMS and email marketing to help businesses gain, keep and grow their customers. This is the most powerful email platform for ecommerce online stores. It has a free plan which gives you free Up to 250 contacts, 500 email sends and Email support.
Aweber – If you are doing affiliate marketing, you can use Aweber as an autoresponder for your email marketing needs such as to grow your email list, engage with your audience and increase sales. It has a free plan for up to 500 email subscribers.
Predis.ai – It uses AI to create content complete with creatives, captions and hashtags and then publish them to Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest in a click.
SocialBee – SocialBee is a cloud-based Social Media Management Tool that helps businesses manage their social media accounts from one place through automating social media posting so you can build a better social media presence.
With these time management techniques, you will be consistently delivering value to your target audience. In addition, proper time management techniques make running a business more manageable as you no longer have to race with the clock to get finished. The more efficient you are with your time, the better your business overall.
What are some best time management books recommended by entrepreneurs?
If you would like to learn more about time management, you can read the following books which will teach you how to manage your time effectively so that you can get the most out of your day, achieve peak personal productivity and have a productive day.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
Getting Things Done David Allen
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
The One Thing by Gary Keller