Time Management is Unique for Entrepreneurs

As a badass social entrepreneur, you know effective time management is important to your success. For nonprofit leaders and anyone running a social enterprise, this post will help you own your impact and expertise in your personal bio. This is the first of a three-part blog series sharing techniques to master time management. Here, in part 1, we start with understanding the basics of time management and balancing your schedule as an entrepreneur. Learn how to use a time study to manage your time more effectively. In the next two blogs, we’ll share ways you can apply this knowledge to use your time more effectively.

Understanding Time Management

Focusing on time management to plan and control how you focus your attention while achieving your goals with ease and flow. You might have the urge to do more and overwork yourself. This leads to burnout. Instead, use your time strategically rather than overworking yourself so you can maintain your entrepreneurship journey.

For social entrepreneurs time management means prioritizing tasks, reducing stress, and focusing on what matters: making an impact and achieving your mission.

Time management helps you stay organized, avoid burnout, and create a balanced workflow to support your professional and personal growth.

Why is time management super important for social entrepreneurs in particular? Glad you asked.

Time management is the difference between being a workaholic and being productive and strategic with how you use your time. The better your time and energy management skills as an entrepreneur the less stress you will experience during the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

For example, there may be busy seasons in your industry or a natural period of low sales during a particular time of year. Understanding how to leverage the ebbs and flows of how your business runs annually will help you manage your time on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

The 12-week year is a great read about breaking down your year into smaller manageable parts to reach your goals. You’ll gain from the perspective shared in the 12-week year that you can be more strategic with your time. You can also think about the cycles an routines that require your attention and energy. This way you can use them to your advantage.

Transitioning from a 9-5 to Entrepreneurship

You might just be discovering how exciting and challenging managing your own schedule can be. Especially if you’re a new entrepreneur or you transitioned from a 9-5 job to entrepreneurship.

When you work for someone else, your time and schedule are structured for you according to your job, industry, role, or experience. As an entrepreneur, you are free from the external constraints that a regular job provides. That also means you have more responsibility to manage your time.

Working in the social sector can be especially challenging when you need to manage your time effectively while also offering free or low-cost services or products for specific causes or individuals. Fulfilling an impact mission may require you to invest your most valuable resource, your time, to achieve desired outcomes. Learn more about developing your own small business CSR program here.

Adapting to Unstructured Time:

  • Embrace Flexibility: One of the biggest perks of entrepreneurship is the flexibility to set your own schedule. Use this to your advantage by designing a routine that aligns with your peak productivity times and personal life. Set aside times for wellness, social connections, and personal growth or connection to self.
  • Avoid Over-Scheduling: It’s tempting to fill your day with tasks. That might leave little room for the unexpected opportunities and challenges of mission-driven business.
  • Get Structured: Having an impact mission is great, but you need structure to help you determine when to give and when to focus on your profit mission.

Building a Routine for New Entrepreneurs:

  • Start with What Worked: If elements from your 9-5 routine that worked well for you, keep them. For example, if you were most productive in the mornings, continue to focus on high-priority tasks during that time. If working out after work doesn’t allow you to be consistent and productive at work, try daily lunchtime walks or morning workouts.
  • Create Daily Goals: Set clear, achievable goals for each day to maintain focus and direction. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by too much flexibility. 1-3 achievable goals that align with your quarterly or annual goals help you stay on track and give you achievable wins daily.

Taking Ownership of Your Time:

When you’re the boss it might be difficult for loved ones or friends to understand what you’re doing with your time. You might face questions like “What did you do all day” or “Why aren’t the dishes done?” Just like any other job, entrepreneurship requires attention and energy.

Others around you may not understand how you are using your time. By taking ownership of your time you are helping those around you understand that you have a job too and you’re not just sitting around in a hammock all day. (Or maybe you are, you’re an entrepreneur you can do that if you want to!) In any case, here are a few ways to take ownership of your time.

  • Set Boundaries: Define your working hours and stick to them. This helps maintain work-life balance and ensures you don’t end up working around the clock. If your energy works better at odd hours (like 3 am) set a schedule that allows you to harness the natural working hours you’re energetically aligned to.
  • Prioritize Tasks: Focus on tasks that align with your long-term goals. Develop a prioritization system to determine what needs immediate attention and which tasks can be deferred or delegated. Develop plans to delegate as much as you feel comfortable or your budget allows.
  • Plan Quit Time: Everyone needs rest and rejuvenation. Determine a time that is your absolute quitting time so clients or others don’t press you to keep working you to burnout.

The quickest way to gain control of your schedule is to commit to doing a time study. Read on to learn how and why you want to use this surefire tool for entrepreneurs.

How to Conduct A Time Study for Entrepreneurs

Step 1: Conduct a Time Study

To move forward you need to understand where your time goes. That’s where a time study comes in. A time study gives you a clear picture of how you use your time by tracking all your activities over a specific period, usually a week. The benefits of conducting a time study will be unique to you and your journey. However, here are a few ways that time studies have helped clients and other entrepreneurs master their schedules.

Benefits of Conducting a Time Study:

  • Spot Time Wasters: Find activities that consume your time but don’t contribute to your goals. These moments move you away from your vision.
  • Boost Productivity: Learn how to allocate your time to tasks that matter most and where you get the biggest bang for your energetic buck.
  • Enhance Focus: Improve your ability to engage in “deep work” and focus by recognizing patterns in how you use your time and energy for high-impact activities.

Getting Started with Your Time Study

It’s time to start your time study now that you understand the importance of time management for entrepreneurs. This exercise gives you the foundation for improving your time management skills.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Time Study:

  1. Preparation:
    • Set Objectives: Determine what you want to achieve with your time study. Do you want to identify inefficiencies, better understand your time usage, or both? Are you unhappy with the outcomes of how you are spending your time or energy?
    • Gather Tools: Choose tools for tracking your time. You can use time-tracking apps like RescueTime, however, we recommend you download our Notion Time Study Template or our simple spreadsheet to log your activities. By carrying your tool with you physically or electronically you can easily track your time hourly.
  2. Recording Time:
    • Track Everything: For one week, meticulously record all your activities, including work tasks, meetings, breaks, and personal time. Note the start and end times for each activity.
    • Try to remember to update your time log at least hourly throughout the day. It might be easier to track this in 15-minute increments in real time than in retrospect after because it is hard to remember some of the micro-tasks or distractions you might have had throughout the day.
    • Be Honest: Accuracy is critical to your success. Don’t skip logging activities, no matter how minor or routine they may seem.
  3. Categorizing Tasks:
    • Group Similar Activities: After tracking your time, categorize tasks into categories, here are a few examples: administrative work, client interactions, personal development, and wellness.
    • Analyze Categories: Look for patterns in how much time you spend on each category. Are you spending too much time on low-value tasks or neglecting high-priority ones? Are you spending time on things that bring you frustration or joy? Which categories of tasks are things you can delegate?

Excited to help you take the first step toward mastering time management. Now that you’ve got the basics down and you completed a time study, we’ll show you how to use this information. The insights you’ve gathered from this exercise will lay a solid foundation for boosting your productivity and aligning your time with your goals.

Next up in our series, we’ll dig into your time study results, identify areas for growth, and match your energy with your most crucial tasks using the Hi-Low Matrix. Stick around to uncover how to maximize your time and energy for maximum impact!

Remember, the real art of time management is about making significant strides toward realizing your vision of social impact, not just cramming more into your day.

Catch you in Part 2!

Time Study Template by Wendie Veloz Enterprises

Time Study Template

Make your time study easy with our Notion Template.

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