Protect your time from disruptions and distractions
A time management plan is only effective if you stick to it. This is, perhaps, 1 of the most important lessons for entrepreneurs: Stay focused.
For Janine, this is reflected in the Finc3 company values. They abide by the following rules, which can be easily applied, even for businesses with a single person:
- Keep an eye on the time—meetings shouldn't exceed their allotted timeframe.
- Every meeting has an agenda. If not, it is lunch or dinner.
- We respect our colleagues time and stick to deadlines.
- Clients and colleagues can rely on us to always deliver great work within the agreed timing.
The rules also help staff members prevent their time from being wasted. "Is a topic not part of a meeting agenda? We postpone a discussion to a later date. A meeting agenda shows that you can’t contribute to a topic? You simply decline the invitation. A deadline is close? You focus on that and postpone new work to a later date," Janine says.
Providing clarity around what your coworkers, clients, or customers can expect in terms of your availability makes a big difference. This can be hard if your business happens virtually. To combat this, Emily includes her working hours and the way she'd like to be reached in the contracts her clients sign.
Emily also limits the way technology disrupts her work. "It's important to put your phone away while working (or turn off the volume), disable all notifications on your laptop and close out your Gmail and just focus in on the work that needs to be done."
Learn to say "no"
Inevitably, people will still ask for more time from you, even if you don't have it to share. How does Clara deal with this? "By saying 'no' in the most polite and helpful way possible, and trying to be really clear about what my client can expect," she says. Saying "no" can be a tough skill, but it's worth learning.
Emily suggests remembering that an investment in yourself is an investment in your business. "If you're working all the time and don't set boundaries, this eventually leads to burn out," she says. "So it's important to have lines in the sand."
Need more inspiration to focus? What about a few more strategies to overcome distractions? Deep Work by Cal Newport is worth a read.