As a female founder, it can often feel like you’re constantly grappling with competing demands on your time. Endless to-do lists, coupled with poor time management, can lead to stress, poor decision making or worse, burnout. Your time is the most valuable resource you have as an entrepreneur. After all, you can always make more money, but you can’t recuperate wasted time. So how do you achieve long-term, sustainable effectiveness whilst balancing the pressures of running a business?
Cristina Donovan, founder of Bean & Fox, an independent boutique for sustainable baby products, offers her top tips for working smarter, not harder.
Eat the frog – from Productivity specialist, Brain Tracy, Eat the Frog is a time management technique for people who are experiencing overwhelm or struggling with procrastination. ‘Eating’ the frog means doing your hardest but most important task – the frog – first thing in the morning before tackling anything else. If you are consistent with this technique, you’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make on your priorities over time.
One thing at a time – as a busy leader, it’s easy to get side-tracked and sucked into urgent but non-important tasks. Research suggests that jumping from one thing to another takes a serious toll on productivity, and even worse, attempting to multi-task can impair cognitive ability. For maximum effectiveness, allocate a set amount of time to a task, turn off your email notifications and make sure that there aren’t any other distractions that could interrupt your flow.
30-minute meetings – we’ve all found ourselves wondering where the time has gone after a day of ineffective back-to-back meetings, making it hard to even make a dent in your to-do list. The good news is that there is no need for any meeting to be longer than 30 minutes. To achieve the outcome in half the time, always make sure every meeting has one purpose and a well thought out agenda circulated in advance.
Reflect – self-reflection has been proven to increase overall wellbeing and satisfaction. Yet, it can sometimes be hard for leaders to sit still and think. Time for reflection is hugely important as this is where you will often be able to take a step back and look objectively at what is and isn’t going well in your business and set time aside for idea generation and innovation.
Outsource – when you’re running a business, it can sometimes be hard to let go; however, as your business grows, you’ll no longer have the time to take care of every aspect of the day-to-day. Outsourcing is a great way to free up your time for the tasks that matter, like strategic planning and business growth. When looking at outsourcing, identify the tasks that tend to drain your time and energy and ask yourself if these can be outsourced so that you can re-allocate this time to taking your business to the next level.