When you’re running a business, good time management is an important skill to learn.
Unfortunately, effective time management doesn’t always come easily. With 101 things on your to-do list, it can be hard to know what to tackle first and many entrepreneurs end up rushing to get even the essential jobs done.
We know this struggle so we asked the Thinkific community for their top time management tips. Their advice, learned through countless years of trial and error, can help you master the art of time management, even if you’re just starting out.
Read on to find out their advice.
Juggling different commitments – Working ‘in’ your business vs ‘on’ your business
When you’re running your own business, every day can be a juggling act between dealing with day-to-day tasks and focussing on higher-level business strategy. To make it work and get the balance right, planning and prioritizing are essential.
Ana Manzano – “I block out my week to make sure that within 7 days, I’ve dedicated time towards the Holy Trinity: In, On, and Off! – ‘In’ is when you fulfill your brand promise for clients/customers. ‘On’ is where you focus on growth strategies. ‘Off’ is where you refuel so you don’t burn out.”
–Anna Manzano, creative entrepreneur and founder of Go Forth and Hustle.
Dr Carrie Rose – “When I make my tasks for the week/day, I approach them by prioritizing in terms of importance and what is going to get us closer to our goals… do the hard stuff first.”
– Dr. Carrie Rose, best-selling author, educator, and entrepreneur behind Ofcourse.
“I would do a brain dump… Do, Delegate, Dump. Do: were tasks that I had to do. The Do list is non-negotiable, Delegate tasks were things that I could do, needed to get done, but would cost me time and money if I did it myself. My assistants would get these tasks. The Dump list were things that were not priorities, distractions or things that could wait a while. I would dump them until they needed to be in the Do or Delegate list… Having the time to focus on what is on my DO list gives me time to develop strategies…”
– Yetunde Shorters, business and branding coach specializing in supporting women entrepreneurs.
“I work from home and I have a 1 year old. So I work best at night when he is sleeping. I do most of my thinking in the evening by drafting my thoughts in my planning charts… I then do most of my reading from my phone when he is napping during the day and also I do video recording during the day too.”
– Nomveliso Mbanga, passionate youth educator and founder of Mayine Development Institute.
“I have specific days for client work, meeting new clients, and my CEO (working on the business) days. I sometimes make these half days and often do a 90 minute pomodoro session if I have deadlines.”
– Lindsey Barlow, online course creator and marketing specialist with over 15 years of experience.
“The rule I follow is “who, not how”. When I’m getting caught working in my business, I stop and think “Who can I hire to help me or do this task for me?”. That way, I’m able to focus on the things that scale my business rather then getting bogged down in the implementation.”
– Paul Thomson, Business Coach for Course Creators and Founder of the Online Course Creators Hub.
Rebecca Cuevas – “I participate in a high-level business coaching program, (the ACES program, from Mirasee) in order to receive guidance and gain support with higher-level strategy and business development. I find this type of guidance and support are critical to my business success.”
– Rebecca Cuevas, award-winning educator, author, and founder of Learn and Get Smarter.
Learning from past mistakes
For many entrepreneurs, there is a journey towards good time management. Even seasoned professionals struggle with time-wasting or spending too long on tasks that aren’t useful for growing their business. The important thing is learning from those mistakes.
Ana Manzano – “I wasted time trying to do everything myself!… Learning to delegate, automate and eliminate (the tenets of some of my teaching) helped take the weight off my shoulders and trust that my team and our systems have my back.”
Yetunde Shorters – “When I calculated the value of my time and realized how unproductive I was being and how many hours of my valuable time I was wasting on things that didn’t add value to my life or others, I had a do-over.… I learned the value of my time and I have been more intentional about how I use it ever since.”
Nomveliso Mbanga – “I have wasted my time by not trusting myself or doubting what I know, by looking around for validation. I learned that it is important to carry a higher sense of self-belief, more so when you are doing something you have never seen being done in your community.”
Rebecca Cuevas – “The things that don’t work are many of the things that course creators naturally and instinctively do first. Discovering that those things don’t work, understanding why they don’t work [and] discovering what does work… [this] has been critically important to the development of my business.”
Paul Thomson – “I used to spend so much time trying to make sure my marketing videos and content were absolutely perfect before publishing. But what I realized is “done is better than perfect”. The time I wasted getting it “just right” was a complete waste. Now if I’m 80-90% happy with it, I’ll ship it!”
Overcoming time management challenges
Time management can be one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. According to the experts, a big part of being an entrepreneur is not being too hard on yourself when you’re struggling. Everybody goes through the same learning process.
Rebecca Cuevas – “If you are an out of the box, innovative thinker who is doing something that hasn’t been done before, it is going to take time to develop something great… be patient, be in it for the long haul, keep your eye on the vision, and be kind to yourself along the way.”
Yetunde Shorters – “The skill I learned about 8 years ago was focusing on one task at a time. Multi-tasking cost me time and money. I have drastically reduced that habit. Now I get a whole lot done in a day [more] than I ever imagined.”
Dr Carrie Rose – “It’s so easy to get sucked into the social media scroll. Be intentional with why you are there and set a timer if you need to get a gentle nudge to put the phone down.”
Ana Manzano – “Don’t underestimate the power of time blocking and single-tasking! Why try to do 20 things at a time, each at 5% capacity, when you can do 1 thing at 100% capacity? I promise you: Everything else will still be there.”
Paul Thomson – “I did an audit of my time to see where I was losing hours during the week. I was able to identify the bottleneck pretty clearly on paper. I knew that by wasting time making my content perfect, I was losing out on making sales. Healthy MRR is way more important to me than pretty videos. So I sacrificed a tiny bit of quality in favor of efficiency and never looked back.”
Key time management takeaways
After many years of being an entrepreneur, our experts have made their own mottos for time management. These are the core of their time management techniques, and they are as individual as their businesses! Here are their key takeaways and tips for success.
Dr Carrie Rose – “You can get a lot more done than you think you can. Just put one foot in front of the other.”
Yetunde Shorters – “Time is your most valuable asset. It’s what allows you the purpose and pleasure to do everything else. And no matter how wealthy anyone is, no one can add any more time in a day, so use it with gratitude, use it intentionally and make it count.”
Rebecca Cuevas – “You WILL get there, and it will be worth it, but it may take a lot longer than you thought.”
Lindsey Barlow – “I try not to worry, I’m not keen on hustle culture and feel time wasting can be informative. To wander is to learn.”
Nomveliso Mbanga – “I sometimes reach out to some of the Thinkific experts to take some of their courses… In the world of virtual learning & virtual business, time is indeed money but I am also aware that authenticity is of equal value…”
Paul Thomson – “Don’t be afraid to outsource to others. But be sure that your profit margins can support you bringing on team members. And start small. Just hire a little help here and there rather than going all-in right from the start.”
Making time management work for you
Everyone has different methods for managing their time and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It takes time to develop the best methods and routines for your schedule but with these top tips, you can get started. Try not to get too hung up on wasted time, just keep learning and you’ll find the routine that works for you.
Check out more tips from the experts…