These days we're all busy, but chances are you're not as busy as Sara Mauskopf was last year. Not only was she in the midst of launching her company, Winnie, which has since raised $2 million from investors, but she also had both an infant at home and husband who was battling an aggressive form of cancer.
And yet, she writes in an inspiring recent Medium post, she managed to get her business off the ground despite these incredible hurdles. It's enough to make anyone who claims they just don't have time to pursue their dreams pause a moment and reconsider.
But if you're going to manage to squeeze your dream project into your busy schedule, you're going to need more than just inspiration. You also need practical advice. And Mauskopf offers plenty of that too, listing five specific techniques she used to manage her time during her company's manic early period. Check out the complete post for all the details, but here are her basic tips to get you started:
1. No networking.
"During my husband's multi-month cancer treatment, I declined every invitation for coffee, drinks, and networking of any form," reports Mauskopf, who explains: "If you're not raising money you will accomplish very little for your business by meeting with VCs and networking. Building your product and finding product market fit is going to yield much higher dividends for your company than networking."
2. Prepare your tasks.
Unsurprisingly, savvy time management played a huge role in Mauskopf's success. "I spent time every week figuring out what I needed to accomplish and breaking that work into smaller, bite sized chunks. I had tiny projects that could be completed in a free 15 minutes, larger projects that would require a few hours, and all kinds of stuff in between. This was all waiting for me in priority order," she writes.
3. Don't go it alone.
This is good advice generally, but it was particularly essential for someone with Mauskopf's constraints. "One exception to my no coffee meeting rule was recruiting. I spent any time I had meeting and hiring awesome people. When you have a world-class team of people you are able to accomplish a lot more than you can accomplish on your own," she explains.
4. Ask for (specific) help.
'Ask for help,' is also perpetually good advice, but Mauskopf insists just telling people you need help isn't enough. You need to provide them with a specific, actionable ask. Instead of, "I'd love your feedback," for instance, she now tells people looking to help to "download Winnie at winnie.com/ios and write a review of your favorite playground."
5. Accept imperfections.
When time is short, perfectionism really isn't an option. Focus on the stuff that matters, and let the rest of it slide a little. But Mauskopf cautions that can be easier said than done: "Perfectionism is a tough habit to break so you have to set time limits and force yourself to just put things out there even if they aren't 100 percent perfect."