We invited you to slide into our DMs a while back, and almost 300 of you wrote in with questions. We got some good ones, and we’re getting back to you here. This one’s from Maria in Bogota, Colombia:
Are there any tips to better manage my time in order to keep working on my startup at the same time that I have a full-time job, partner, and family?
Maria, you’re not alone. The clock always seems to be ticking, especially for busy entrepreneurs. As billionaire investor Warren Buffett put it, time is “the only thing you can’t buy.”
It would be great if we could just add more hours to the day. In lieu of that, here are some pro tips on maximizing your time while balancing competing commitments.
Understand when you’re most productive, and capitalize on it: Is it early in the morning? Late at night? Is there a window during your super-productive time that you could consistently slot in some startup work?
Elnaz Sarraf, founder and CEO of an educational robot toy company, recounts how she made time for her business in the early days.
“I would take important calls from 7-9am, even on the road to my full-time job,” she says. “And I would take in-person meetings after 4pm. Now that many companies allow employees to work remotely, you can save at least two hours a day on the commute and spend that wisely on growing your business.”
Sarraf prefers working on essential tasks that need a lot of her attention during mornings, then using evenings for follow-ups and planning for the next day.
Develop a morning routine: “The early bird gets the worm.” “Win the morning, win the day.” You’ve probably heard similar odes to the early hours.
It’s more important to keep a consistent morning routine than to start your day at the crack of dawn, but starting early can help you get ahead on your tasks.
Tina Roth Eisenberg is a designer, a mom, and the founder of several ventures, including co-working business Friends, productivity app TeuxDeux, and temporary tattoo company Tattly. In an interview with Extraordinary Routines, Tina laid out her morning ritual:
Wake up at 4am
Listen to NPR
Journal and/or post on blog
Wake up kids
Don’t worry, your routine can be much simpler than Tina’s. Atomic Habits author James Clear starts his morning by simply “pouring a cold glass of water.”
Prioritize your top goals: Your to-do list might look overwhelming. Take a page from Warren Buffet’s playbook and try his “two list” strategy:
Write down the top 25 things you want to accomplish this week. (Or this month. Or this year.)
Circle the five goals that are most important to you
Forget about those other 20 goals until you’ve accomplished your top five
Prioritizing your top goals can provide a useful framework for planning out your time.
Track the crap out of your time: Tracking how you’re spending your time can help you become more efficient with it. You could try apps like Harvest and Toggl, which offer free versions.
Track your activities for a couple of weeks, then review your breakdown. Are there tasks you can automate or become more efficient with? Are there tasks you pour time into that don’t align with your work or family goals?
“Be as organized as you can to save yourself from overthinking or spending time on unnecessary tasks,” advises Sarraf. “Free up your brain to focus on important actions and execution.”
Bottom line: Time is your most precious resource. By prioritizing your top goals each week — and setting up your schedule in a way that works best for your brain — you have a better chance at being more productive and making time for the projects you really care about.