Jeremy Choi, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Toronto, is the managing partner of Pixelcarve, a digital agency that focuses on providing strategy, design, digital content marketing, and production services to small- and midsize clients that desire to be best in class.
Like many entrepreneurs, I have a full plate. I manage and promote multiple growing businesses, serve as a director on several organizations, write a blog on entrepreneurship and leadership, give back to my community, and research and filter through new business opportunities. Yet I still have time to play golf twice a week and spend most of the weekend with my wife, baby, family, and friends. How do I manage my workflow to get the time to enjoy life?
I employ a few easy tactics that are becoming habitual for me. Here are the most effective:
1. Develop a schedule.
I develop a realistic, color-coded schedule--one that includes plenty of family time--that I simply execute. If something's not scheduled, I won't do it. Unless it's a family emergency, I will not compromise on this either. I have learned to say no to ensure other things get done on time. This hasn't been easy for me, and remains challenging at times.
Also, while completing a schedule, I've found that it can be hard to avoid procrastinating. What has helped is taking short breaks (five to seven minutes) between each 30- to 45-minute stretch.
2. Leverage an assistant.
My executive assistant helps me get things done that I don't need to do myself. In other words, I delegate. It takes time to find, hire, train, and manage an assistant. But once I did, I found the arrangement to be quite productive. To date, my executive assistant has freed up at least 15 percent of my time (about one to three hours a day). If you're interested in hiring an executive assistant, create a spreadsheet of everything you do daily and assign a value to each item. Next, isolate the activities you have to do yourself. Then you can distribute the rest to your assistant. It's quite simple, and has worked very well for me.
3. Use productivity hacks.
I use some effective productivity and time-management tools to help me make the best of my time. Here are a few that I prefer:
- Google Apps for Business--Everything is synced with every device and easily accessible for me. Emails, calendars, real-time document collaborations, files, or phone calls, I leverage it all using cloud-based management.
- CharlieApp--One hour before any meeting that is on my calendar, I automatically get a detailed briefing on all of the meeting attendees, which includes where they work, if they were in the news, if their company was in the news, what they have posted on social media lately, and who some of their mutual connections are on LinkedIn.
- Contactually--This tool helps me regularly contact the people who mean the most to me. I sort my contacts into buckets, and it intelligently suggests when I should follow up.
- Rapportive--When I send or get an email, Rapportive shows me the person's profile, which is aggregated through most social media platforms and news networks to help me catch up on what's happening in his or her life.
- Sidekick--I use Sidekick to send very important emails (i.e., quotes, contracts), and it shows me if someone opened the email, when he or she did it, and how many times.
Running my own business has its challenges, but I have been able to find ways around them. Using these tactics has not only allowed me to grow my business, but also granted me free time to spend with friends and family--time that I greatly value.