I can hear you groan, but don’t leave yet!

I find that people are attracted to entrepreneurship because they want flexibility, and most business owners I know, at least in the beginning, struggle with time management. What most people don’t consider is that time is your most valuable resource. If you’re not managing your time, you’re not going to make the most of that resource. No matter what stage you are in, in your business, you need to be able to leverage your time to do the work that really matters. Your productivity depends on your ability to manage your time well.

It’s not easy to talk about time management and putting some of these practices into use might be a struggle at first, but they are key to business success. I want to introduce you to time blocking and using a timer. I believe these two simple approaches will help you begin to manage your most valuable resource.

Time blocking is a framework for your week, one day at a time. By blocking out time for the tasks in your day, you’re more likely to get done what you need to do. For time blocking, you’ll want a planner or calendar page that includes lines for each hour of your day. I like the ones that start early and go late, because sometimes I like to plan my evenings and early mornings.

Begin to process of time blocking your days by thinking about your core values. To truly be successful, you need to be sure your calendar includes not only your business-related schedule but also provides time for what you value most. If that’s family time, be sure you have it blocked out on your calendar. I recommend adding time for exercise and self-care as well, and your morning routine. Scheduling time for your core values protects you from burnout and is going to be more sustainable than a calendar that’s just business-focused.

When you have time blocked out for your core values, then add in your business-related activities, being realistic about how much time each one takes. In the beginning be detailed about what you want to accomplish with each block. Schedule your business activities at a time when you’re most productive. I also recommend leaving a little white space around your activities, so you have breaks and don’t feel overwhelmed.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t have the time for everything I want to do!” Then you to take a look at where you’re spending your time. One of the best ways to find time in your day is to start using a timer. For example, if you get sucked into scrolling through social media, you should set a timer for however many minutes you want to give that activity each day, and if you stick to that, you will be surprised at how much time you can find in your day. The same goes for other activities as well. Use a timer to see how long something takes you and try to shorten that time by becoming more efficient.

You’ll also want to ask yourself, “Am I productive or am I busy?” They’re two different things, and as an entrepreneur, you need to be sure you are spending time on money-making activities. Your focus should be on what gives you the greatest return on your (time) investment. Time blocking and using a timer can help renew that focus. For example, if find yourself spending hours a day researching a marketing plan, but haven’t reached out to the leads you have, block out only a limited time for your marketing plan and use your timer to stay focused. Then, build in a block of time for follow-ups.

I know from my own experience that time blocking and using a timer can take you and your business to the next level. At first it can feel cumbersome, but over time, it will get easier, and you’ll find the flexibility you need to make it work. You’ll also find that by giving your core values the priority they deserve, you’ll find more joy in your days, and by being strategic with your business activities, your business will really take off.

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