A few years ago, the editor of one of the publications I used to write a monthly blog post for asked me how, as a busy entrepreneur, I was finding time to consistently write for them and share my expertise with other publications while working one-on-one with my clients. I found it was an interesting question considering 3 years before I had almost turned down their offer to write for them because of time constraints. Here’s how I’ve made it work.
1 | You need to have clarity on your goals and how you’re going to achieve them.
At that point, my goal was to increase the visibility of my business. After listing all the options I had to achieve this goal, I decided to focus on getting articles published. I already had a blog but writing for this publication was allowing me to drastically increase my reach. I decided to go for it.
2 | You need to consolidate all your professional and personal commitments in one place.
Once I was certain this activity i.e., writing for this publication, was something I wanted to undertake, I found it a place in my schedule. People often use their diary to capture their meetings and appointments only, but if you want to make things happen, you also need to add all your activities and tasks in your diary and treat them with the same level of commitment as you would for a meeting or appointment. Also having all my professional and personal commitments consolidated in one place allows me to see at one glance whether my workload is manageable on any single day.
3 | You need to be realistic about your work capacity.
I typically plan for no more than 5 hours of real work in an 8-hour workday. The rest is a buffer to deal with emails, phone calls, digital distractions, die-hard habits such as procrastination or perfectionism, as well as the unexpected – whether it’s a client having an urgent request, a task taking much longer than anticipated, or a sick child at home who needs to be taken to the doctor.
4 | You need to develop a good understanding of the time it takes you to complete a task.
I always add a time estimate to each of the tasks I put on my to-do list. Otherwise, it’s very easy to end up with more than what I can handle in one day. If I struggle to give a time estimate, I break down the task into small parts that are easier to quantify. Also, as there’s often a discrepancy between how long we think it takes to complete a task and how long it actually takes, I’ve timed myself on several occasions when performing regular tasks so I could be more accurate.
5 | You need to learn to say no.
Time is finite so we have to make decisions on how we want to use it. It’s not because I’ve put a task on my to-do list that I will necessarily do it. On those days when I have more on my to-do list than I can handle, I’ll be looking at each of my tasks and decide whether to delete it, delay it, diminish it, or delegate it so I can create time for what’s really important. Asking myself whether a specific task will help me achieve one of my goals, or by saying yes to it, which other task I am saying no to, helps me make decisions and streamline my workload.
6 | You need to build self-awareness about your relationship to time.
Over the years, I’ve paid attention to the part of the day when I’m the most energetic so I can do tasks that require a lot of focus during that time, the attention span I have for various tasks, the distractions that are likely to derail my day, the reasons I procrastinate, etc. so I could find solutions to address them. This translates into increased productivity.
I hope the above tips can help you be more consistent and do what you have set for yourself as a busy entrepreneur. For those of you who want to get a firm grasp on the way you manage your time and build meaningful and rewarding days, check my time management coaching programme. I’d love to help you.
This blog was first published on Connected Women website.