Starting a business is one of the most time-consuming efforts you will ever volunteer for. It is estimated that successful entrepreneurs work an average of 65 hours per week on their business, and that's after
the venture is up and running!
As a business owner, you are playing every role at one time or another. You may be your own boss but you are also your own accountant, your own attorney, your own marketing department, and your own secretary.
Managing your time effectively is the most important skill for a first-time business owner, and the sooner you take control of your time and tasks, the easier the startup process will be.
Once you have made the decision to start a business, the first priority is to get organized. Find and use a time-management system that works for you. Enter all of your current obligations into the schedule, then block out chunks of time to focus on your startup.
Treat these work blocks as mandatory appointments and let your housemates know that the time is to be uninterrupted. Evaluate the other things on your calendar and decide which time-consumers can be reduced, eliminated, or delegated.
If you can't find large enough chunks of time for working on your startup, consider getting up a few hours earlier or staying up a bit later...once you develop the habit you may find these are very productive times.
Tame Your To-Do List
Once your time is relatively under control, the to-do list must also be tamed. Create a Master to-do list in a spreadsheet software or on paper.
List every item that you know you need to do, then organize them by adding codes for the type and priority level of each item. For example, mark all emails with the same type code so when you sort the list by type, all the emails you need to take care of are listed together.
Establishing a separate priority code ensures that you are taking care of the most important tasks first. By developing a habit of assigning the right priority to each task you add to the list, you can sort by priority and instantly be aware of the most pressing jobs at hand.
Use a Ten List
Very often, this master to-do list will end up with dozens, if not hundreds, of separate items as you work through the startup. Because a list of that magnitude can be overwhelming, it is recommended that you maintain a shorter list to work from.
We recommend that you utilize a daily ten-list. That is, note the next ten tasks to be completed on your daily calendar or handy notepad and work off of that list until all tasks are complete.
Then, return to the master list on the computer to develop your next ten-list. This way, you are neither overwhelmed nor distracted by the other hundred items and can give your full attention to those tasks you have deemed the highest priority.
Entrepreneurship is no vacation. The time and energy necessary to launch a successful venture shouldn't come as a surprise, but the more organized you are before you start, and the better you manage your time, the better off you'll be throughout the life of your business.