Start-up founder Eileen P. Gunn writes about how she budgets time to maximize focus, momentum--and rest.
I wonder if Congress would consider creating a longer day, specifically for entrepreneurs. I think 27 hours would be enough.
I don’t need the extra time to get more stuff done so much as I need it to actually get enough rest after my day ends sometime between in the evening.
I’m at that stage of starting a business where my to-do list is long and everything on it should be at the top. I’d try reading up on time management and organization tricks, but they won’t change the ungainly volume of necessary work, so why bother with the distraction? Some the items at the top of my list:
I have a growing list of people interested in marketing and promotional partnerships with me. I have to study up on what to offer and how to write proper proposals. Then I have to write the proposals. These relationships can be big steps in growing traffic and direct revenue.
I have a series of people I’ve approached about guest blogs and I need to follow up with them. This will simultaneously save me work (writing blogs) and increase my exposure.
I have to resume my search for a partner to handle some of the business-side stuff.
I have to carve out more time for marketing and promotion. I’ve done well spreading the word about FamiliesGo! in travel circles but need to make better inroads to parenting websites and magazines.
I have to revisit a video tutorial I have on adding widgets to new web pages. I’m sitting on content for my hotel guide because I can’t figure out how to add sidebars as I add new sections and the pages look silly and don’t function properly without them.
I have endless new content to add to the site. New material gives people a reason to keep coming back.
All these things could easily keep me busy until 11 p.m. every night. But I know from my former corporate job that I’m more of a sprinter than a long-distance runner. Too many late nights just makes me exhausted and sloppy.
I’m learning what I do well at night when I’m tired and what has to happen during the day when I’m sharpest. But I’m also learning that since work never ends, at some point you just have to leave something unfinished, make your to-do list for the next day, and shut down the laptop. And really, that hour might as well be a sane one.
I try to keep late evenings to three or four a week and to call it quits on those nights by 9 p.m. This lets me toss in a Mad Men DVD for an hour, wind down, and actually get a good night’s sleep. This in turn makes it more likely that I’ll wake up early and do yoga, which improves my focus and momentum. I can prioritize better and focus on the important work rather than the easiest work, a habit that’s easy to fall into when I’m tired.
It takes a certain amount of discipline to call it a day when there are still things you want to do. It’s not easy and I don’t always manage it. But the day isn’t actually going to get longer and that to-do list isn’t likely to get shorter anytime soon. Focus, momentum, and rest are the best tools I have for keeping it under control. For the time being, I’ll take them.
EILEEN P. GUNN is the founder of FamiliesGo!, a travel website for busy parents planning family vacations. She is also an independent journalist and author whose work has been published widely. In her Inc.com blog Start Me Up, Gunn shares the whys and hows of building a business as she does it. @familiesgo