Effective time management is critically important for success as a solopreneur. When you are the only person responsible for all the “jobs” in your business, it can feel like you are being pulled in a thousand different directions and focusing on any one task is impossible.
But focus is critically important also.
So how can a solopreneur balance focus with the necessary multi-tasking?
The key is prioritization and time blocking. This lets you fully focus on a particular task without distractions, during the time you have allocated to it. Let’s cover each of these in turn.
The 4 Rules of Prioritization
There are always a thousand things to do in a solo business. And most entrepreneurs are also idea people, so you’re probably continuously coming up with new exciting things to add to your to-do list.
Here are some rules to follow to help you prioritize that ever-growing list.
Rule #1: Write it Down
You can’t focus with a thousand ideas and to-do’s floating around in your head. Believe me – I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work!
As soon as you think of something, whether it’s a new idea or something that needs doing, simply make a quick note of it, and get back to the task at hand. You can write it down on a Post-It note, add it on your phone or computer, make a note on your calendar or notepad – whatever works for you. The important thing is that it’s out of your head and onto “paper” that you can re-visit at a later time. This allows you to get back to focus 100% on what you were doing.
Rule #2: Don’t Get Distracted by Greener Grass
That’s especially critical for thoughts that come into your head that seem more important than what you’re working on right now (unless it truly is urgent, of course!). It’s easy to get distracted by the “Greener Grass” effect: The horse in the paddock always wants to eat the grass that looks greener on the other side of the fence.
The “Greener Grass” effect is the #1 reason why a solopreneur may be busy all day but feel like they accomplish nothing.
Rule #3: Make a List
On a regular basis (but not more than once per day) review and prioritize your list of to-do items.
Realize that you won’t be able to accomplish all the ideas that come to you. That’s why prioritization and focus are so important. But don’t throw anything out. If it’s written down and “on the list” then it’s available if you have time for it in the future, and it won’t keep popping back into your mind distracting you from what is a priority right now.
Rule #4: Choose a Task Management Method
How do you prefer to manage a to-do list? There are many different task management apps, calendar approaches, or a simple pen-and-paper to-do list. What works for one person may not work for another, so choose a method that works for you and stick with it. But don’t make choosing a task management process another distraction from focusing on priorities that help grow your business! What’s important is that you have a method, and you stick with it for a period of time – you can always refine it as you go.
The second key component of effective time management is Time Blocking. This involves blocking off time on your calendar to take care of the specific tasks that you have identified as the priorities for your business. During each block of time you focus on just that one thing – don’t let other tasks or distractions interrupt you.
Personally, I like to use a variation on the Pomodoro method, which involves interspersing “sprints” of focused work blocks (set a timer for 25 minutes) with brief “breaks” (5 minutes) to give your mind a rest and transition to the next block of work. After four such “sprints” you can take a longer break (say 30 minutes) before starting over again.
Your Time Management Approach
I think the best time management approach for a solopreneur is to consciously choose a method that works for the way you work and think. This is different for everyone. But hopefully this has helped you give your own time management needs some thought, and gives you some ideas to try that will help balance the need for Focus and Multi-Tasking that is a reality for every solopreneur.
What time management approaches do you find work best for you? Leave a comment below!