I remember when I first started dreaming about the business idea that would turn into EntreMD. I had the feeling, “I know there is more.” More to the way I was practicing medicine and more to the quality of life I was experiencing.
As I tapped into the growing passion I had for something more, I began a journey that allowed me to build a business of impact. Not only that, but I learned how to dramatically increase my bottom line and get my time back.
Of course, I didn’t have a wand to wave that magically gave me the extra time I needed to build this business. Every minute seemed to be accounted for between work and home, but I got creative and found ways to carve out time and still survive.
As you read today’s post, be inspired by this quote by Michael Altshuler,
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
1. Prune Time Wasters
When we say we don’t have enough time in our lives, we tend to gloss over all the seconds, minutes, and hours we spend on “time wasters.” The obvious time wasters happen when you sit down to watch a six-minute video, and before you resurface, two hours have passed.
Big apps like Facebook and Instagram spend millions of dollars making sure you spend long amounts of time using them. Fortunately, there are some apps to help you manage your online time.
If you’re curious to know just how much time you spend on social media, you can take advantage of apps that will record the daily times you spend on certain apps. iPhones come with instructions for the app already installed on your phone, and if you have an Android phone, you can check out this app.
If you regularly check your news feed throughout the day, you can download the Chrome extension News Feed Eradicator. This tool blocks your news feed without having to delete or deactivate your Facebook account.
Not all time wasters are as frivolous as social media or binge-watching your favorite show. Legitimate work activities like emails and meetings can also hoover up your time.
Most people treat their inbox as a to-do list. This is especially true if you have a busy inbox. When something pops up, you handle it. The problem is this takes time away from important tasks that can move your business forward.
Many meetings are also time wasters. For example, how often have you sat in a meeting that could have been an email? Or how many times did a meeting run longer than it had to? One trick to control meetings from running for too long is holding online video meetings scheduled to end at a specific time.
Another more unorthodox way to keep meetings from running endlessly is to conduct them standing up. While this wouldn’t be practical for every meeting, it could certainly help trim down wasted time on many meetings.
Lastly, avoid spending too much time on things that don’t bring results. Some people spend an entire week designing a logo or crafting the perfect business plan, but those tasks don’t generate money for your business. Choosing a logo can be simple by using online support tools. Likewise, a business plan can start as a one-pager and be modified along the way.
2. Learn Time Management Techniques
There are four powerful time management tactics I found that helped my efficiency accelerate. They are:
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that breaks your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. After four of these 25-minute chunks, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
The timer instills a sense of urgency, and rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.
Additionally, the forced breaks help relieve that burnt-out feeling most of us experience toward the end of the day. It’s impossible to spend hours in front of your computer without even realizing it, as that ticking timer reminds you to get up and take a breather.
The Pareto Principle uses the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your results come from 20% of your actions. Therefore, to find time to start a side business, you need to determine which activities produce the results and focus only on those things.
Instead of trying to do the impossible, a Pareto approach is to understand which projects are most important. What are the most important goals of starting your business, and which specific tasks do you need to focus on to align with those goals? Do those.
The 80/20 principle helps you decide which resources are the most important for you to use to achieve the greatest efficiency. It helps reduce wasting time, money, supplies, efforts, energy, etc. It helps you do the high-value tasks first before clearing up the small (easy) nuisance things that somehow seem easier to tackle.
Time batching refers to creating dedicated blocks of time for similar tasks to decrease distraction and increase productivity. It’s a form of time management that lets you maximize concentration and decrease distraction.
One of the easiest ways to get more done is to batch similar tasks together. Don’t work on tasks simultaneously (that would be multitasking) but work on one task after another. When you do this, your work will be completed faster.
Spreading out ten similar tasks all over your day or executing them randomly throughout the week will take more time than if you batch your work. Some examples of batching are:
●Create a list of questions to ask, rather than interrupting yourself (or someone else) with individual questions.
●Write a document to the end and then go back to edit it. Don’t try to write, edit and proofread at the same time.
Steven Covey’s Four Quadrants of Time Management offers a simple matrix to help you decide how to prioritize tasks and stay focused on the truly important. This tool is very useful for focusing our attention on the to-do list items that matter and make a difference.
Quadrant 1 holds the important and urgent activities, and they will likely be the ones causing you the most stress. Tasks that fall into Quadrant 1 are quickly approaching deadlines, meeting time-sensitive goals, and eliminating risk.
Quadrant 2 holds important but not urgent tasks. They are important but don’t have looming deadlines like the first quadrant. They may include activities like planning long-term goals.
Quadrant 3 holds not important but urgent items like emails, calls, and other less significant interruptions.
Quadrant 4 holds not important and not urgent tasks. These are the tasks to classify as low priority and only do them after the first three quadrants are done.
3. Gain the Skills You Need Faster
The learning curve for starting a business is so steep many people can’t survive the experience. Moreover, most of us don’t even know what knowledge we’re missing, which makes gaining the skills we need even harder.
No matter the scale of business you’re starting, discovering your knowledge gaps is essential. An undiagnosed gap in knowledge means you might not fully understand a problem, which can thwart finding innovative solutions.
Here is a list of time-related resources I found helpful to gain the skills to build EntreMD:
●Speed reading helped me to read faster with more comprehension. I was reading everything I could get my hands on but wanted to read more in less time. There are all sorts of opinions on how effective speed reading is, but by using some of these tips, I definitely increased the amount of written information I could absorb in a day.
●Ramit Sethi’s Guide to Habits is a valuable resource on how to change a habit. While his focus is on creating wealth, I found the information on creating good habits saved me from lots of wasted time.
●The 4-Hour Workweek audiobook by Tim Ferriss spent four years on the bestseller list, and although my workweek isn’t close to four hours, I did find dozens of practical tips on working efficiently.
4. Wisely Use the Time You Have
Sometimes the only way to find time to start a side business is to make sacrifices. When we focus our energy on the right tasks, we find time for our businesses and make more money. Therefore, your job is to make sure you’re wisely using your time and energy.
You might need to reduce the amount of sleep you get. On the other hand, getting up an hour early to start your business can pay big dividends. Or, if you’re a night owl, staying up while the rest of the family is sleeping to tick off Quadrant 1 work can help move your business forward.
Your commute to your day job can be a great time to work on projects for your business. You can answer business emails on your phone or listen to podcasts to learn new skills and ideas. If you don’t have to drive, you can turn your commute times into even more business time with a laptop and wifi.
Give up some time on your weekend. Instead, plan one day of your weekend for your errands, chores, and fun, and commit 100% to your business the other day.
Make good use of the time you spend waiting. Don’t go anywhere without taking something to do—papers to read, forms to fill out, etc. Handling things once saves 15 to 20 minutes. When it comes to email, voice mail, or paperwork, take instant action. Read, answer, delete and file; that way, you don’t have to come back to it.
While it might be tempting to say yes to every opportunity, saying no often may actually work in your favor. Saying no gives you time to work on things you say yes to. It can help improve your productivity while also creating boundaries. Having a laser-like focus can help you achieve your goals faster because you’ll learn how to master things quickly.
Make a to-do list before you stop work in the evening. This will let you hit the ground running first thing in the morning. Start the day by removing all distractions and establishing a work rhythm for the rest of the day.
5. Set Firm Deadlines
Setting firm deadlines for projects forces you to make time to work on your business. By not allowing yourself to be flexible, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen, such as waking up earlier or avoiding distractions.
Write down the exact dates of goals you want to achieve and when you want to achieve them. Without setting realistic deadlines, you might find yourself getting distracted or losing motivation. Writing things down makes them more real and concrete.
It’s important to set smart goals to help you boost productivity. By having defined goals, you’ll stay on track and keep moving forward.
You don’t need to overstress and spend too much time creating the perfect deadline plan. Instead, stick to your deadlines, hold yourself accountable, and don’t make excuses for yourself.
6. Get Outsourced Help
I recently heard an interview with an entrepreneur who said she doesn’t cook or clean because it doesn’t pay her. Instead, she delegates it to someone else so she can focus her time on running her business. It may seem counterintuitive because delegating usually costs money, but it all comes down to how you use your time.
Spending time learning how to do things like copywriting or graphic design or accounting for your business eats away at your time when you should be spending your time growing your bottom line instead. Instead, ruthlessly assess whether specific tasks or actions are the best use of your time. Once you do this, you start delegating or saying “no” more often.
You should delegate when someone else is better skilled, or it is cheaper to have someone else handle a task. In many cases, it is very beneficial to hire some outside assistance. The number of freelancers available worldwide is on the rise. You can either acquire or outsource any area that requires special skills.
Automating systems can also save significant time. However, before you automate it, simplify the process as much as possible. Make sure that each part of the process is genuinely required and is controlled. Automating an uncontrolled process will not help you save time.
I hope you’ve found these six tips helpful for starting your dream business. I’d love to talk with you about this blog post or any ways you can build a business of impact.
Do you have any other ideas for ways to find time to start a business? Let me know!
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.” — Thomas Jefferson.