Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Determine What You Must Tackle First
Write down the top things that MUST get done that day based on priority and value. Don’t open an e-mail, check a text or take a phone call until those items are hammered out. The feeling of accomplishment when you choose to crush what’s most important is incredible, and I find it makes the rest of the day much more productive and enjoyable.
2. Create a Schedule That’s Doable
I never try to jam-pack my schedule with everything that I need to get done, as that usually results in missed deadlines and me being mad at myself. I try to give myself some wiggle room and spread things out so I have enough time to not only get things done but to be fully present when I do.
3. Spend Less Time on Email
4. Identify Your Highest Impact Activities
It all starts with identifying your highest impact activities, and splitting up what’s urgent and important vs. non-urgent and important and so on. Prioritization lies in the balance between what will make the biggest impact in your business today and what will make the biggest impact long-term.
5. Use IFTT to Prioritize Your Time
IFTT helps me do more with the platforms I use daily. I use applets and services to make sure I’m tracking what I need to and getting the information that’s pertinent to my company and my clients. For everything from social media to tracking my hours on my Google calendar, IFTT helps me automate several tasks so I have more time to spend on my business.
6. Aggressively Filter Your Incoming Information
It’s becoming increasingly important to use software tools to reduce the amount of data our brains have to deal with. I use tools like SaneBox and Inoreader to filter incoming information. I only want to see information that’s valuable to me right now. There’s a risk that I’ll miss something useful, but the really important stuff tends to find its way through or around the filters.
7. Learn to Delegate
No matter how good you think you are, you can’t do everything. I learned this the hard way, and once I learned how to properly delegate, overall productivity increased significantly. Time will always be scarce and “everything” is important to a degree, so put people and systems in place to handle everything. This allows you to focus on a select few responsibilities and prioritize them accordingly.
8. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
This advice may seem somewhat homely, but it’s a truth that you should adopt, adapt to and integrate into your daily life. Learn to let go and don’t stress about things that are both out of your control, and are too minuscule to really deserve your attention. Pruning those unimportant, meager tasks from your routine can go a long way to helping you better manage your already limited time.
9. Don’t Feel Guilty About Pushing Tasks Back
Make the decision to move some activities farther back in the day or week. Don’t feel bad or guilty about it. Just do it and move on so you can get back to methodically handling what needs to be done. Then tackle the next set until you get through it. There may be a way that you catch up and can come back to those items but it’s better to move them off your plate so you don’t dwell on them.
10. Schedule Unstructured Time on Your Calendar
One way to better prioritize your time is by actually scheduling unstructured time on your calendar. It only works if you hold yourself accountable to it, though, and I have to admit keeping these “meetings” sacred is a constant challenge – but it works. Focus your mind on the future, and try to limit meetings you need to attend to only those that require decisions.
11. Learn to Let FOMO Go
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) drives entrepreneurs to spend ever more time-consuming information, most of which is worthless. There’s no way any one person can consume all of the content and data produced in even a small niche — stop trying and you’ll feel a lot better. Realize that your time is better spent thinking, planning and building — if it’s important, information will find its way to you.
12. Decide Your “One Thing”
On a daily and weekly basis, decide what is the one thing you definitely have to get done that day/week. This will help you focus on the most important item on your list before you dive into your long to-do list. And when deciding your number one item, make sure it’s a task aligned to your expertise, passion and work relevance. Delegate any miscellaneous tasks that can get done by others.
13. Focus and Delegate Tasks
Figure out what eats your time, and from there remove all the unnecessary activities that you do daily. As an entrepreneur, it’s best to know the value of time and spending it on things that only you can do and nobody else can. Delegate other things that you’re not really good at, so you can focus on more important things that you should do.
14. Set Time Limits for Your Tasks
Assign a time block to your tasks and aim for “GETGO” (good enough to go). I find that allotting a specific amount of time to my tasks helps me spend an appropriate amount of time on each activity. It’s very easy to spend an hour editing a blog post when really, 30 minutes would have been good enough.
15. Use a Paper To-Do List
Each night, get a daily planner and write down everything you need to get done the following day. As you finish the task, physically cross them out. For me, this was huge. It made me focus on what was really important and was a nice change of pace from “digital overload.”