In a startup, a small team has to sustain and maintain the growth of a product, and make use of a small budget, in order to tackle a large variety of tasks – and all that within a limited amount of time.
So, time is the most precious and scarce resource for any startup, and should be managed carefully – which is often a challenge.
The importance of time management in every startup is pretty clear and I’m here to help you master it. How? By explaining the four time management tips you should follow.
Create and follow a schedule
In order to make sure you have enough time to finish each of your assignments in the best possible way, you’ll have to make straightforward schedules for your work days – list the tasks that await you, and then decide when you’ll tackle them, and how much time you’ll spend on them.
Every evening before bed, brainstorm what you have to do the next day, and compile a to-do list you’ll go through tomorrow – list all your tasks in order of importance, and make sure to work on them in that order.
An effective method for organizing tasks by priority is the Eat That Frog method – it requires you to label each of your tasks in regard to its importance and difficulty, with “the frog” being your most important and difficult task that you should do first:
- Task “A” – this is your most important task, the one you should tackle first
- Task “B” – your second most important task, the one you should tackle immediately after Task “A”
- Task “C” – a task that would be “nice to do”. However, as it’s not as important as tasks “A” and “B”, there are no significant consequences if you don’t do it
- Task “D” – this is a task that may be urgent, but it’s not important, so you can delegate it to someone else in your team, in order to leave more time for tasks “A” and “B”
- Task “E” – this is a task you should eliminate, whenever possible, as it’s neither urgent nor important
Once you’ve decided on the tasks you’ll tackle tomorrow and ordered them by priority, block specific times for them in your calendar – this way, you’ll know exactly when you’ll work on each of your assignments, and when you’re expected to finish. Make your schedule flexible, by blocking an hour or two for unexpected errands.
With such a foolproof schedule, you’ll leave no room for surprises.
Behind every successful startup, there’s an effective and dedicated team. So, instead of trying to do everything on your own, delegate tasks, and let everyone contribute to the work.
If you’re uncertain about what tasks you should delegate, develop a priority system:
- If a task is both urgent and important, do it yourself
- If a task is urgent, but less important, make sure to delegate it to the right team member
Consider your employee’s strengths and skills, before delegating tasks – this way, you’ll ensure everyone feels up to the challenge, which is the main prerequisite for everything to be done within deadline, and in a quality way.
Also, make sure to include instructions on what you want the team to achieve. Explain the specifics requirements and expectations for a task, and clarify when it all needs to be done.
Time tracking one of the key elements of small business project management. So instruct everyone to enter the time they spend on their tasks in a timesheet software. This way, you’ll keep everyone accountable with their share of the work, and have a log of everything that was accomplished thus far.
Once you’ve done all that, make sure to avoid micromanagement – this is one of the biggest plight of modern business and, you should resist the urge to intervene in everything happening in your startup. So, once you delegate the tasks, trust your team to do their share of the work, and only provide light supervision and guidance.
Tweak, minimize and improve meeting time
Meetings are said to take away 6 hours from the workweek of a regular employee, and 23 hours from the workweek of a senior executive – and, for the sake of your startup, you should be using this time on more profitable activities.
Pick the optimal time for meetings – One-piece of research states that Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. are the best time for meetings:
- By Tuesday, people have already adapted to the idea that the weekend is over (which is not something you can usually expect from a Monday), so they’re more likely to be alert and focused
- By 2:30 p.m., it’s late enough, so people are most likely finished with their priority tasks for that day, but also not too late, so they are also still focused and alert enough to contribute to the meeting
In order to minimize meeting time, be strict about your agenda – list no more than two or three topics you’ll tackle, designate no more than 20 minutes for it all, and don’t let the meeting go off-topic.
If you find you cannot minimize meeting time, try to hold meetings at the same time as regular, everyday activities – such as lunches. So, the next time you have to schedule an unavoidable meeting, call your favourite restaurant and organize a brainstorming session over pizza.
As another effective alternative, you can conduct virtual meetings whenever possible – this will save you and your team substantial travel time.
Work on your inbox management skills
According to research from the McKinsey Global Institute, we spend 13 hours per week on managing our emails – which is more time we could minimize and put to better use.
In order to better manage your inbox, you can follow these simple tips:
- Decide when you’ll manage your inbox, and stick to this time – for example, check your inboxes and reply to emails early in the morning, before embarking on serious work, and then once again, in the late afternoon, before heading home
- Silence email notifications – you won’t be tempted to check your inbox every time you receive an email
- Prioritize emails – first, respond to most important emails, and those you can answer quickly. Set reminder for emails that will need longer responses, and tackle them later. Delete or archive old and unwanted messages, to make priority emails stand out
- Declutter your inbox by unsubscribing to unwanted mail – receiving newsletters from 2 sources is fine every month, but receiving newsletters from 22 sources every week will likely bring chaos to your inbox. Use an unsubscribing app to help you unsubscribe to emails you frequently receive, but never even open
If you follow these rules, you’ll significantly cut down on the time you waste on emails, and get more time to allocate to more pressing startup matters.
In order to streamline time management in your startup, you should schedule your work beforehand, share the workload with your team, as well as cut down on less pressing matters, such as emails and meetings.
Once you’ve streamlined your time management by following these tips, you’ll be able to do more with less time, and ensure your startup is on the right track to success.
Author bio: Marko Maric is a marketing manager who specializes in digital marketing channels. He also frequently looks for opportunities to share and rant about the stuff close to him. Marko currently works for a SaaS company that has built one of the most popular time tracking apps. You can follow him on Twitter for more insights.