Time Management for Entrepreneurs – part 1 of 6

As a parent and and entrepreneur, some days the concept of time management seems like a cruel joke people with jobs inflict on those of us who have the flexibility to schedule our own days – all 27 hours of each day. At least, that is how long some of our days end up being!

Like you, I started my own business- running out of the home- in order to be able to control my time. So I could take a day off if my child was sick, go the park in the afternoon and work after I put her to bed in the evening. I actually did understand that this may mean I worked 60 hours a week for myself instead of 40 for someone else. I thought my eyes were open. /grimace

What I did not realize is that when you start a business, it comes with an org chart of jobs – each of which require a full time employee. So you become the boss, the bookkeeper, the marketer and the employee in one fell swoop. You need to work in your business and on your business as Michael Gerber says in the E-Myth Revisited.

This is fine until you start to experience a little success.

You see, it is not until you start getting customers, listening to them and gaining experience in your business that you have the information with which to design a business. By then, for most of us, it is too late. Now we are busy… being employees. We cannot take the time as the boss to build a solid foundation for our business – we are too busy delivering our solutions to our customers!

As we get busy, we also get stressed. When we try to schedule a day, everything feels urgent and important. There is never enough time to serve customers and find new customers. Administration falls by the wayside too… along with other luxuries like sleep, date night and playing at the park.

We tell ourselves, “It is just today we have to skip the park.” then, “Just 2 weeks – if I really push I will have everything under control then.” And we really believe it.

I had reached full burn-out before my health forced me to stop. Just getting out of bed was overwhelming. My memory was terrible – things that should have been done right away were completely forgotten for days. This only added to my stress and lowered my ability to cope. I felt if I just had a week away I could fix things. If I could just get a good night’s sleep, everything would be better tomorrow.

I had told myself a lot of lies – about what I should do, had to do, how it had to be done – and that I had to do it alone.

To recover my life and my time I had to learn a whole new way of thinking about time management and ways to deal with stress.

In this series, I want to share some of the tools and techniques that saved me. In this article, I want to share one core idea. Each part of this idea is in bold as you read through this post… part one:

We cannot actually manage our time – only our priorities.

Make a list of everything you do in a day, in a week, in your imagination. Work tasks, activities with family and home. Things you do for yourself. Include social media, checking email, coffee dates, cooking, watching TV, napping, playing Sudoku too.

Then select the top 5 priorities in each area.

Now purge the lowest 5 items in each area – promise yourself to stop doing these time wasters that give you no pleasure.

Now imagine fitting all of these priorities into on perfect day.

How long is that day? 16 hours? 22 hours? 37 hours? Here is your ah-hah moment:

You cannot – CANNOT – do everything on that list each day.

The solution is a bit of a paradigm shift. There is no perfect day. There is no ideal schedule for  your work day.

There is no one perfect day.

You must plan your week with a combination of the TYPE of days you need.

  • Client Service
  • Administration & Communication
  • Creativity
  • Relaxation – my son calls these Buffer days
    Brian Tracy says you must take 24 hours (in one solid stretch) off each week. For sanity, well-being and productivity. No work, no to-do lists, calls, emails, or even thinking about work.

You may end up with 4 client service days a week, one administration & communication, one creativity and one relaxation day. Or you may find 3 client service days becomes enough – once you start investing time in the other types of days.

Next post, I want to share with you the difference between your planned schedule and reality and how to still celebrate what you accomplished even when reality interferes with your day.

By the way – I went to my grandson’s assembly at school last week!

Oh – and that link on the right leads to a pdf of the Time Management tool I created for myself after all of my research and struggling was done.

Cher Cunningham

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