Interruptions are the modern day reality of “work.” Most of the times when you say you are working, you are actually trying to work, but getting interrupted by twenty different types of distractions. Your phone just buzzed…again. Someone needs you to send them an invoice. You spilled your coffee…
Entrepreneurs face the biggest challenge when it comes to time hijacking! Perhaps because they need to keep tabs on everyone and everything, and in the super long list of To-Do’s, many to-dos never get done, or keep getting copied to the list from one day to the next.
Challenges with Managing Time for an Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges I face is the variety of activities that require my time, and how one is radically different from the other. As a creative professional, the core of my work is, well, creative. This requires me to be in my “zone” and screen out all noise, all distractions, possibly even all human interaction, so I can be in my own space where creative magic happens.
Au contraire, other parts of my entrepreneurial stint require me to get updates from fifteen people on the tasks assigned to them, take updates from clients, close deals with prospective clients, keep a track of finances and tax filing, and so on and so forth. The latter are a sinkhole into which time gets sucked like matter in a black hole.
Calendaring my tasks is the only solution I found to this problem.
Take Your Schedule Bite Size
For someone whose world revolves around deadlines and more deadlines, there comes a point where no project management software or time management tool is able to do justice to managing all deadlines. They have their own use, like keeping your team on the same page, but they don’t necessarily help you focus on what’s next.
Adding my next upcoming tasks on a simple tool like Google calendar helps me track my time sensitive tasks, deadlines, travel, home maintenance tasks, bill due dates, tax filing dates, meetings and other odds and ends in one place, on a smooth timeline. It helps me focus and finish what’s next as opposed to the entire chunk of deadlines for the upcoming week. So, I can move from one task to another, and don’t need to keep reminding myself constantly about what else needs to be done. I can take my day bite-size.
Google AI Aint All Bad
Though I hate the likes of Google tracking my data, their AI does occasionally help me track my tasks better, because they show news related to items on my calendar, like due dates of tax return submissions.
Sometimes, it is extra handy when someone cancels a meeting, or when a deadline gets an extension, or when I have travel planned and need to leave on time. Google AI features do try to get my back.
Synced All My Calendars
I currently use multiple emails — the bane of managing multiple organizations and projects — and hence, one of the main challenges I faced was having it all in one place. The reason why I wasn’t able to solve this challenge was the same reason why I needed to solve this challenge — not having enough time!
So, I finally got down to it, and integrated all my Google calendars. I gave access to all my calendars to all my accounts. My Outlook is still an estranged animal, but as I receive most of the calendar invites over Google, this is not a bad trade off.
Block Time on The Calendar
I use an app for scheduling my meetings. It helps people see when I am free or otherwise. The app wasn’t making much sense because my calendar wasn’t updated, it was all over the place.
Now, since my calendar is the go-to place for all my scheduling, I have also started to block time on my calendar for specific tasks, when I don’t want to be disturbed. For eg, when I am writing or strategizing.
This is extremely helpful, because these are the tasks that suffer the most without an organized calendar.
Integrates My Tasks & Keeps
One of the grossly underappreciated apps of Google is Google Keep. I make most of my lists & To Dos on Google Keep. Many of my tasks go into Google Task. Ever since I have switched to calendaring my tasks, integrating all of these into my day has become much easier. I no longer have to keep scrambling for my lists and emails and other bric-a-brac for figuring what I need to do.
I Can Estimate Where My Time is Going
Although I hate the idea of clocking my day, Google sort of does that for me now. As I start filling up my calendar, I can already see what proportion of my time is being spent on which type of task.
I can actually measure how much time is being spent on achieving absolutely nothing, or in ad hoc tasks, which though urgent, are still ad hoc, and how much time is being utilized in the most important tasks. This may not carry much significance otherwise, but it does rid me of some of the guilt I constantly carry of having achieved nothing all day. I know exactly what I achieved, what I didn’t, and why I didn’t if I didn’t achieve what I set out to. I blame myself a little less, focus more on realistic solutions instead.
At the outset, it felt like a very silly move or change to start adding deadlines to a calendar, though a very obvious thing to do, but with every progressing day, I feel less weight on my head from just knowing that I don’t need to constantly worry about a missed deadline. It is one of those little things which help remove many little-little irritants, and hence make a big difference overall.
To an entrepreneur, every hour saved, is an hour earned :)
To me, being an entrepreneur is not just about building a product & making money. To me it is about being your own boss — not just on paper, but in reality, being the master of your own self. But of late I have been feeling like a football of others’ schedules, where my time didn’t feel like it is in my own hands. Worse, I didn’t even know where it is getting frittered away! This tiny move helped me take the power back in my own hands.