Time is a scarce resource, especially for entrepreneurs. When you are constantly bombarded with things that need your time, attention and energy, it is a challenge to prioritise things. Successful entrepreneurs learn the art of using their time most effectively.
As Warren Buffett once said, “Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.” How entrepreneurs use their time is akin to their growth and development.
Great entrepreneurs develop practices, routines and habits that help them get in the right frame of mind to get things done. They learn, unlearn and relearn new ways of doing things more prudently and in the process create value for others.
Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson have adopted a cool and casual approach to business administration. He often spends time talking to people from his travels around the world, takes adventurous expeditions around the world, but keeps an idea diary to note his ideas and keeps in touch for following-up with people whenever needed.
Phil Knight, Founder of Nike, used to find energy from his late evening runs. He spent time running, gathering his thoughts and ideating while on the run. Often, he would go for a 5-6 mile run at the end of his day. Warren Buffett is famously known for spending most of his day reading, building and updating his knowledge base.
Successful entrepreneurs and professionals are able to experiment and find a strategy that helps them make best use of their time. Here’s a look at some of the effective strategies adopted by successful entrepreneurs:
1. The 15 Minute Rule
Anthony Trollope was a author who wrote 47 novels, 18 non-fiction books, 12 short stories and 2 plays, in addition to a huge volume of articles and letters. This was back in 1847. No computers, Google and not even typewriters.
So, how did Anthony Trollope manage to write so many books. He revealed his secret, which was highlighted in the book, Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. Trollope managed to write in 15-minute intervals for three hours everyday.
He set himself a target of writing 250 words in 15 minutes. He mentioned, “It had at this time become my custom,—and is still my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient of myself—to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour”
Trollope further elaborates, “This division of time allowed me to produce over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day. If kept up through ten months, would have given as its results three novels of three volumes each in the year”
Trollope had mastered the art of productivity. He used short bursts of 15 minute intervals to measure his progress and achieved great results. It is a simple, but very effective strategy.
When entrepreneurs are focused and make use of their time, they can do a lot more work.
Smaller intervals are focused time periods that make people focused. The shorter time intervals focuses the mind towards priority targets, sets the pace for work and measures the results achieved.
It divides the work into smaller manageable units. For e.g. writing 10 pages sounds overwhelming, but writing 250 words is a more manageable proposition. It sets you into action mode, helps you develop the right momentum and confidence to complete your work for the day.
The pace of work improves significantly when work is measured in small intervals. When smaller tasks are completed with efficiency, it adds up a lot of value for a day. The best entrepreneurs learn to divide and manage their tasks.
2. Measure Speed & Impact
When work is allocated small units of time, it sets the pace for the day. There is progressive work and focused energy to achieve the tasks. Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” It’s very true, especially when you have a distracted day.
Great entrepreneurs learn to measure the speed at which they are doing things. They make the best use of their time by measuring progress in short intervals like Trollope. By allotting the smallest intervals to complete a task, you can do more focused work and even do it with better quality due to fewer distractions.
The best entrepreneurs invariably share one common trait & it creates a massive difference. This is about focusing on work that maximises impact. As an entrepreneur it is not enough to measure the speed, infact, you may be good at things but you shouldn’t be doing them at all. You must choose and pick the things where you can create maximum impact for the organisation.
The top professionals figure out the core focus areas which will create the maximum impact in their work, they measure and improve these areas. And they leave everything else to focus on these areas.
3. High Performance Environment
Your environment is very important. As an entrepreneur, you can often decide how your environment should be. The best entrepreneurs create an environment, which helps them maximise their talents and abilities.
They do things that create maximum value for them and the organisation. They eliminate distractions and build routines that deliver great results for them. The successful entrepreneurs learn to separate themselves from all the noise around them and do meaningful work.
Your inner environment is also an integral part of your overall performance. When you are in a pleasant state, happy and focused in your work, you can achieve much better results compared to a stressed state. Entrepreneurs need to set the tone for themselves and their teams. The best entrepreneurs create an environment to maximise the efficiency of not just themselves, but everyone involved with them.
4. Time Blocking Schedule
One of the secrets behind successful entrepreneurs is their ability to devote time to things that they value the most. Elon Musk is famous for his 5-minute rule. Elon is known for his 5-minute blocks for different activities.
So, if he has to reply to emails, he uses the email block of 5 minutes to do it. He eats a meal in his scheduled block of 5 minutes. He divides his whole day into smaller blocks of time devoted to activities that maximise value for his day.
He avoids doing any activity that is not scheduled for the time. For e.g. he wouldn’t pick up calls that are not scheduled or meet people when he is in the middle of work.
The time blocking schedule is a very effective strategy that helps you pour all your energy into things you are doing. It helps you block time for things you want to do and eliminate everything else.
While it may not be possible for you to have 5-minute blocks planned for everyday. You can still adopt smaller time slots and schedule activities for your day. It will help you increase your productivity, concentration and avoid additional hours for your work.