Time management can be defined in many ways, but what comes to mind for most is a definition similar to this one:
Time management is the ability to plan and control how you spend the hours in your day to effectively accomplish your goals.
I ask you, as an entrepreneur when was the last time you were able to plan your day to the minute and control your time effectively? There are always fires to put out and distractions that take you away from even the best-laid plans.
Certainly, there are many things you can do to manage your time better, but the key to time management lies in the way you think about time. Your lack of time is a symptom of the overarching mindset you may have about time.
In my experience, entrepreneurs who don't manage time well usually have at least one of three things going on:
1. A lack of clarity, vision, and a plan.
If you don't know where you're going, you can't possibly get there. If you're not clear on your goals and priorities and don't stick with a (malleable) plan, the ability to focus will be foreign to you. You'll spend time and emotional energy looking for a magic bullet and chasing bright and shiny objects. Sadly, there is no magic bullet, but once you have a grasp on exactly what you want things will fall into place like magic.
Do you know what your business will look like in one, three, and five years from now? Do you have a strategy in place to obtain this vision? Have you broken it down into steps, and are you clear about what you need to do each and every quarter, month, week, and day to get there? And, most of all, do you know what you're most passionate about and how to maintain that passion? If not, go back to the drawing board alongside a professional to help you gain the clarity you need.
2. An inability to set boundaries and communicate them to others.
Plain and simple, we teach others how to treat us. This begins with respecting your own time. If you allow employees, friends, family, and yes, even clients to consistently intrude upon your time, no hour in the day will be fully yours.
Here are three tendencies born of a poor time management mindset:
Separate your time between work and your personal life with as much intention as possible. Be present when you're with friends and family to eliminate any guilt over not giving enough of yourself to your relationships. At work, create the framework to avoid the personal, employee, and client interruptions. Don't forget those disruptive thoughts and habits that also get in the way. Set boundaries for yourself and be disciplined enough to enforce them. The above-mentioned lack of clarity is often the culprit here.
People overcommit out of fear, guilt, and a need to please or prove ourselves. Entrepreneurs over commit and over deliver to clients because they are afraid of losing them. If you do the job and do it well, it's not likely a client will walk. Be careful about how far you stretch the boundaries.
Multitasking is only task shifting, and it's extremely harmful to our brains. Your brain cannot disassociate itself from a problem or overwhelming activity. This causes stress, even panic. Your brain was designed for thinking and reasoning, not for managing all of your to-do lists and keeping everything straight as you toggle between tasks. It takes up to 30 minutes to re-focus after a single interruption or distraction! With ten distractions a day (realistically, it's far more) that's at least half of your day down the drain!
When you have a plan and minimize distractions multi-tasking won't feel necessary unless you use it as a means to self-sabotage and procrastinate.
3. Self-sabotage. Fear of success, failure, and/or letting someone down.
In this instance, poor time management is mostly due to the conflicting conscious and subconscious messages you send yourself.
"I want to succeed." Versus, "If I succeed I have a problem."
A self-sabotaging mindset usually indicates that there are undesirable consequences associated with success; these lie within your subconscious mind. Discovering the root cause will give you the confidence and emotional freedom to achieve your dreams. Address your behavior with a therapist or coach who has experience in the success mindset arena. Begin by asking yourself:
What are the negative consequences of achieving my ultimate success?
That's right. If you have a viable business model in place and success is eluding you the problem is likely at the subconscious level.
Don't let time manage you. When you have clarity, set boundaries, and get to the root of self-sabotaging behavior, your 24-hour day will feel like a wonderful eternity.