Welcome to productivity and time management tips for entrepreneurs from guest blogger Anna Runyan! Anna is the creator of CLASS: The Love Your Work and Life System and CEO of Classy Career Girl International. She’s a former corporate consultant turned entrepreneur and her website was picked as one of Forbes Top 100 Websites for Women and one of Forbes 35 Most Influential Career Sites. She’s been featured on Fox, The Wall Street Journal and People StyleWatch magazine. Anna was nominated as San Diego Magazine’s Woman of the Year and her podcast was named as Yahoo’s 10 Best Podcasts. Everyone here at Team Knack is thrilled about the tips and hacks she shares below exclusively with the Knack community.
Hi Knackpackers! I’m Anna Runyon and in this time management blog post, I’m going to go over the #1 time hack. I’m going to tell you how to prioritize your calendar and how to do your to-do list. I’m also going to teach you how to do a weekly review session, how to plan out your morning routine and how to focus with all the decisions that you are going to start to make as an entrepreneur (especially a female entrepreneur).
Many of you probably just want to get started selling things, right? You want to create your business plan, start your website and create some viral Instagram Reels. But, you’ll end up burnt out and stuck if you don’t have the right time management strategies in place first.
When I started my career coaching business 10 years ago on the side of my day job, I soon realized I was never going to make my dream happen if I couldn’t find the time to focus on growing my business. One day I looked at my to-do list and decided I was going to commit to making my dream happen and I started taking control of every minute on my calendar.
I refused to stop saying that I didn’t have time for my goals. The truth is I can find time for what really matters. What matters to me is growing my online coaching membership so I can make a difference for my community and the people I love (including my three beautiful daughters)!
If I can do this as a busy mom of 3, so can you! Here are the top 5 productivity and time management tips that I have learned over the last 10 years of being an entrepreneur:
- Prioritize Your Calendar
- Stay Organized
- Implement a Weekly Review Session
- Master Your Morning Routine
1. ALWAYS USE THE #1 TIME HACK: BATCHING
Batching is when you group similar tasks together to improve your productivity. My top productivity and time management tip is to batch everything you do in your business. As much as possible, you’ll want to focus on blocking out as much time as you can for revenue-generating activities.
YOU are in the driver’s seat of your calendar. Your time is precious so be in control of each minute that happens. Be aware of how you spend your time and what precious time that you might be wasting.
Categorize your time so you don’t have to fill up every hour in your calendar. To help with batching your time, I recommend using three categories to organize your tasks:
- Focus Tasks
- Administrative Tasks
- Sacred Tasks
Category #1: Focus Tasks
These tasks are revenue-generating tasks and activities that will GROW your business.
- Working on a business plan to increase your revenue.
- Working on a marketing plan to get more clients.
- Working on your own career development plan.
- Taking training opportunities
- Meeting with a mentor and asking questions to understand your industry better.
- Doing outside research on how your team can improve.
- Taking a sales class to improve your sales conversion rate.
- Brainstorming the future direction of your company.
- Planning and checking progress of your team’s annual goals.
- Brainstorming new products or services.
- Reading blogs, magazine articles or newspapers in your industry to stay on top of trends.
- Talking to potential clients and improving their experience.
- Working on a sales page or an email campaign.
- Reaching out to important contacts in your industry.
- Creating proposals for new clients.
- Strategy planning.
- Mastermind meetings.
So set a timer and only allow yourself to focus on these items and don’t let any of the administrative items sneak in! Focus time is precious!
Category #2: Administrative Tasks
These are the items you just have to do whether you like them or not but they don’t necessarily focus on the big picture of your business. These activities don’t always lead to quick successes and revenue.
Administrative items should not distract you from revenue-generating activities.
You cannot grow a business only doing administrative tasks (like posting on social media, blogging and checking your email). You have to get really clear on WHAT tasks grow your business.
Some examples of administrative activities are:
- Email management
- Meeting arrangements
- Calendar management
- Bill paying
- Travel management
- Organizing your office
- Website maintenance
- Social media
- To-do items
- Groceries and cleaning the house
Administrative items are very important and things that you have to do to achieve success but they aren’t things that will automatically make you more successful right away. You want to delegate as much of the administrative items as possible and keep them limited to only certain times in your week if you have to do them yourself.
Category #3: Sacred Tasks
These are items that are truly sacred to you and you want to make more time for them. These are the blocks in your schedule that you don’t mess with.
- Picking up your child from school.
- Attending your daughter’s talent show.
- Working on your hobby or interest.
- Attending a social event
- Spending time with your significant other.
- Quiet time to read
Planning sacred things into your schedule will make you more effective in your business.
Make a list of all of the items in each of these three categories that you are going to complete for the week. Then, look at your calendar, block out your Focus Time, Administrative Time and Sacred Time in different colors.
2. PRIORITIZE YOUR CALENDAR
The Pareto Principle states that 20% of your input creates 80% of your results. 20% of what you do in your business is going to lead to 80% of your results.
So how does this apply to your business? 20% of what you do is going to lead to 80% of your results. So my second key time management tip is to focus as much time in your calendar on what your 20% is.
There’s so much you could be doing that’s not going to give you the results you want. You have to make sure that you are focusing on the right things every week in their calendar.
If you’re a current business owner, look back at where your sales have come from in the past, look back at what’s working. Look back at your marketing strategy, what is producing 80% of your results?
When I was starting out, the time I spent on sales conversations and talking to people on the phone are the things that produced 80% of my results. I blocked out as much time in my calendar for sales conversations because that is the key that helped my business grow.
Ask yourself these 4 questions:
- What are all of the tasks that you are doing in your business right now?
- What activities should you be focusing on that will lead to 80% of the results in your business?
- What activities are you doing right now that lead directly to sales?
- What activities are you doing right now that do not lead to sales?
3. STAY ORGANIZED (AND CARRY THE RIGHT BAG)
There is so much possible for us as entrepreneurs now. One of my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur is that I can work from wherever. I have traveled and worked from Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. I have worked from a car, boat and an airplane.
All I need is my laptop and internet and I can focus on moving my business forward! However, it is critical that I not only manage my time, but that I keep myself physically organized also. When away from my office, I basically live out of my bag. For me, it’s so important to have a bag that can keep everything I need with me and easily accessible.
Inside my bag I always have my laptop, my phone, my journal, and my planner to write down notes and ideas I have for reaching my goals. The Knack Bag is such a great option for helping you stay organized. From the light-colored lining and mesh pockets that allow me to see easily where everything is, to all the organization features, like places for my sunglasses, business cards, pens, water bottle, and passport, Knack keeps chaos and clutter away so I can focus on the important things for my business.
4. IMPLEMENT A WEEKLY REVIEW SESSION
Another key time management tip is completing a weekly review session that will help you identify exactly what needs to be done when you wake up on Monday. Get in a habit of doing this session at the same time and day each week.
Each week make a list of all the tasks that need to get done for the week. Prioritize the top 3 tasks that you’ll complete and block out time in your calendar to work on your big goals. Planning ahead will move your business forward!
- Make a long list of all the tasks that still need to get done for the week.
- Knock out as many administrative items that you can.
- Make another list of tasks that can wait until next week.
- Prioritize the top 3 tasks for next week.
My weekly review sessions are normally held on Sunday but you can also do weekly sessions on Friday or Saturday too.
Your focus should always be on your priorities each week. Every week, get in the habit of writing down your top three priorities for every week. Now you know what to focus on! When you know what to focus on, you’ll have much more success reaching your big goals and vision.
Get in the habit of doing a weekly review session. Block out 15-30 minutes in your calendar right now on the same day every week for this session. You’ll be able to do this quicker the more you get used to it but in the beginning, it might take more time.
Three Key Weekly Review Session Questions:
- What are the urgent tasks that you still need to get done this week?
- What are the tasks that can wait until next week?
- What are my top 3 priorities next week?
5. MASTER YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
Your business won’t grow if you keep waiting until you are exhausted at 8pm at night to work on your dreams. Right when you wake up, focus on your own goals and dreams before your employer’s goals.
You are important and how you start your day matters. You are here and you have a big mission to complete, right? You need to spend that time and do those baby steps in the morning right when we wake up.
So, my final productivity and time management tip is to spend some time designing your ideal morning routine.
The goal is to do something that will get you happy and excited when you wake up. Usually, when you are working on your passion first thing in the morning, it will be easier to wake up.
Here are some ideas of things you can do in the morning:
- Review your goals/vision board
- Write a blog post
- Write in your gratitude journal
- Create content
- Review affirmations
- Work on your most important priority for your day
Create a really good morning routine so that you are happy and excited to wake up in the morning and start the day. Focus on yourself first and start the day positively rather than rushing out to work at a job you hate. Go to your day job knowing that you made progress already on your goals and you are moving your business dreams ahead each and every morning.
So, ask yourself these questions:
- What is your current morning routine?
- How can you improve your morning routine?
- Do you need to wake up earlier? Prepare the coffee the night before.
- Make a checklist of things you want to get done when you wake up. What does your dream morning look like?
To summarize, the productivity plan you set now is EXTREMELY important because you’ll need time to focus on growing your business. Take your time here because it will be the foundation for everything else you do as an entrepreneur. Also, you’ll find yourself going back to these productivity tips on an annual basis because there’s always better systems and strategies you can use as you continue growing as an entrepreneur.
Thanks so much Anna for your Top 5 Productivity and Time Management Tips for Entrepreneurs! If you want to hear more from Anna, check out her website, online courses and social media channels. You can also download her free 90-Day Planner here.