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Time Management Techniques for Ambitious Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Millionaires

Jan 4, 2008
If you're a small business owner or entrepreneur, one of your biggest obstacles is probably finding enough time. Lucky for you, everybody gets the same amount! So all you have to do is figure out how highly productive people use time management and you're home free. Here's what I learned from the extremely successful entrepreneurs I've had the privilege of working with.

1) Create windows of time.

If you're an entrepreneur, you have a lot to do. All the time. Every day. The days that seem lighter are days in which your tasks seem slightly less urgent than usual. Successful entrepreneurs use their time wisely, working smarter, not harder. I'm sure you've heard that before! What it means is you must know how to allocate your time effectively so your investment of energy is spent garnering nothing but the greatest possible returns.

One way to do this is to create windows of time for your day, allocating certain tasks into those windows. For example, as a writer, I dedicate two hours a day to writing my next book. If I wanted to complete it sooner, I would dedicate more time, but I have other businesses to tend to so the two-hour mark is my happy medium.

So, I have two hours in a day. The amount of time is limited and predetermined. It leaves no room for procrastination, nor any lack of focus. I set a reasonable goal for those two hours, and I don't allow anything to distract me. If I finish early, I get to take a break. If I don't finish, I have to squeeze it into the next day, or into a different window of time in the same day during which I try to finish another task early.

It's kind of like putting yourself back in school. That kind of structure is absolutely necessary for most, especially new entrepreneurs who are still getting used to not having a boss around telling them what to do. The great thing about these windows, unlike being back in school, is - you can put them wherever you want! You can place them at any point of your day, just as long as you get the work done.

Isn't that exactly the type of freedom you desired when you chose to be an entrepreneur? It's the freedom to get work done at times that are convenient for you!

As part of my typical schedule, I create no more than three two-hour windows per day. Since a normal workday is eight hours, the remaining two hours of my workday account for interruptions, emergencies, phone calls and emails. Still, I do my best to work uninterrupted within those two-hour blocks. Of course, the type of work I'm in allows for long periods of no interruptions.

Good bosses ask their employees how long it will take to get a project done, then they leave the employee alone until the project is complete. Good employees, on the other hand, offer a time which includes a buffer in case they run into any roadblocks or unforeseen problems.

Good entrepreneurs do the exact same thing, as both boss AND employee. Ask yourself how long it will take to get something done and do it in that amount of time, no more, no less. If you find you need more time, take it from a task which needed less. Do this with yourself on a daily basis, stay focused on your goals, and you'll find you have more time than you'll ever need!

2) Do the hardest things first thing in the morning.

What do I mean by hardest? I don't necessarily mean the most difficult, or the largest, most burdensome projects. I mean the things YOU find the most difficulty completing. (Translation: The things you eagerly procrastinate on!)

The single most detrimental habit I've seen from experienced to inexperienced entrepreneurs alike is the tendency to procrastinate. Everybody does it. Successful entrepreneurs just know how to tackle it head on. There will always be aspects of your work you're not very excited about doing. Powerful entrepreneurs use their time wisely by getting things done NOW.

Use step #1, give yourself a certain amount of time to do it and tackle it head on, first thing in the morning. Consider yourself in a meeting and don't take any phone calls. If it's really important, pretend you have jury duty and go off the grid all day. If you have to, put an auto responder on your email and change your outgoing voicemail message to let people know that you're unavailable, and get the job done.

Most importantly, do it first thing in the morning. This will motivate you to completion so you can get on with the rest of your day. You'll also get an early boost of self-confidence and accomplishment, and the rest of your day you'll feel fabulously productive. Completion is a great feeling.

If you KNOW you've been avoiding something, for whatever reason, get it done! Get it done NOW! Powerful entrepreneurs don't wait until the time is right, they create a time that's right - and what better time than right now?

3) Prioritize with the $500 rule.

If someday in your career as an entrepreneur you'd like to become a millionaire, understand that your time is actually worth $500 an hour. To help prioritize your To-Do lists and manage your time more effectively, ask yourself this question periodically throughout the day:

Should I really be paying myself $500 an hour to do THIS?

Some tasks will earn a firm NO and you can just STOP! For example, you probably don't need to be the one punching holes in and binding fifty reports for a presentation you're preparing to give. You may not want to spend the money, but is it really worth your time? You could spend the $50 to have somebody in your family or the local printers do it while you spend the two hours (or thousand dollars) improving your presentation.

The other question you should ask yourself is:

Will this help me MAKE $500 an hour?

Sure, your presentation packages need to look impressive and well put together, but is your 60-second sales pitch ready for whoever you may meet on the way to the presentation? Have you practiced your presentation to the point where you comfortable giving it in your sleep? Is your website content compelling enough to captivate your audience when they eagerly look you up on online after your presentation?

If you want to be a millionaire and your time isn't being spent either making $500 an hour or creating the opportunity to be making $500 an hour, it's being wasted. At that point, you're not an entrepreneur and you're not running a business, you're doing pro bono work. You could just as easily become a volunteer. Entrepreneurs run businesses, and they make money doing it.

Don't waste your time. It's precious. Everyone gets the same amount, so there's no excuses. If you find these tips don't work for you, keep looking until you find ones that do! No matter what, find a way to manage your time. Don't let your time manage you!
About the Author
Reese Leyva is the founder of SaltyBird Entertainment and author of The Beginner's Guide to Abundance. She is a a poet, playwright, entrepreneur, finance professional and Polynesian dancer extraordinaire! Her new book, Impassioned Entrepreneurship, will be available Spring 2008. Find out more at http://www.reeseleyva.com.
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