Your time is your most valuable resource as an entrepreneur because it’s the only thing you can’t make more of. You can add more products, hire more people, and even invest in better technology to improve productivity, but you can’t make more time – just make better use of it.
Most often what happens to entrepreneurs is they hit a time wall when they reach their innate maximum capacity, meaning they can no longer keep up with their daily tasks and projects without a little strategic planning. Tackling the daily to-do list willy-nilly just won’t cut it anymore.
It becomes a chain-reaction of productivity. As the key-driver of the business, your inability to handle the tasks in front of you inevitably means that you are holding someone else in your company back. That’s why managing your time effectively is critical to your success and your ability to grow beyond your capacity.
The secret to moving beyond your innate maximum time capacity is to get strategic with how you manage your time on a day-to-day basis. That means using your calendar to manage and maintain control of your time.
How to Start Managing Your Time by Calendar
#1: Account for how you use your time. How you REALLY use your time. Do you spend 30 minutes every morning warming up to the day with a coffee in hand while scanning social media for the latest news? Do you need to spend an hour getting your team organized so they can continue with their projects?
Whatever it is, you need to account for it. Deduct from your available work time all the must-do’s you include in your day. Often this is where entrepreneurs get into trouble when they think of their work day as being a full 8 hours when in reality, it’s a lot less when they account for meetings, people management and buffer time.
#2: Schedule everything in down to the minute. Make your calendar in charge of your daily schedule, including all meetings, telephone calls, work blocks, batch task blocks and appointments.
Your calendar should include all the key details related to each. For example, the details for a telephone call should include the telephone number, the purpose of the call and any key discussion points you wish to cover.
#3: Limit the time you spend on tasks and projects by assigning time in your calendar and stick with it. Getting in the habit of working to a time deadline will help you work quickly and efficiently.
Don’t be afraid to communicate your time constraints to others. For example, at the beginning of a call, let the other person know how much time you have to talk at the beginning of the conversation. Placing time limits forces participants to focus on the purpose of the discussion rather than falling into idle chitchat.
#4: Assign tasks and projects to specific work blocks in your calendar. Project tasks that require 30 minutes or longer probably require their own work block in your calendar; whereas, short tasks should be batched together in a batch task work block.
Get in the habit, for example, of checking your email with your calendar open ready to receive any of the new tasks that arise. That way you ensure that you get everything you intend to do done.
#5: Evaluate! Are you getting everything done in your calendar or do you need to give yourself more breathing room? Where are you hitting time-crunches? Why are meetings and project tasks spilling over into the next time blocks? Do you need to build in more time to handle the unexpected?
The only way managing your time by calendar will work is if you honestly assess it on a regular basis. For example, you may decide you need to give yourself regular 5-minute breathers throughout the day or schedule in extra time buffer for a particular meeting that always runs over.