Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Successful time management allows you to work smarter, not harder, getting more done in less time but this is not always an easy process.
Time management, including work-life balance, prioritization and decision making, are elements of the most common struggles for entrepreneurs. It is difficult to make time for the important things when it is even hard to decide what is actually important.
The fact is, about sixty percent of entrepreneurs have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Time management, and the ability to stick to it, can be a challenge until you learn how to turn your deficit into your superpower.
Author and entrepreneur, Peter Shankman, describes his ADHD diagnosis as a “gift.” “I don’t have ADHD, I have ADOS…Attention Deficit, Oooh Shiny!,” says Shankman. On his podcast, “Faster than Normal,” Shankman states that his ADHD is not a deficit. Learning how to harvest the energy can lead to more to more positive outcomes. Approaching ADHD strategically requires an understanding what it is and how to leverage it.
Whether your lack of executive function is due to ADHD, or something that’s just not your natural strength, there are great tools to help improve our ability to manage time. We use these four frameworks to help keep clients and ourselves working on what matters most and to stay on track for growth.
Stephen Covey’s Time Management Grid
Author and businessman Stephen Covey states the most important is that, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” constantly reminding yourself what that main thing is.
Covey’s Time Management Grid is broken up into four quadrants: urgent, not urgent, important, and not important.
Quadrant 1, the quadrant or crisis, is where many of us spend most of our time. Here is where you keep your deadlines, emergencies, last minute preparations, and critical appointments.
Quadrant 2, also known as the strategy quadrant, is where an entrepreneur would work on their business from the outside in. This is where the planning, thinking, and strategy take place. If you are not investing in quadrant 2 (about 60% of your time) you will find yourself in quadrant one much more frequently.
Quadrant 3, also known as the avoid quadrant, is for what’s urgent though not important. This is where you’d find most of your phone calls, emails, reporting, shallow issues, and other people's’ problems.
Quadrant 4, also known as the limit quadrant, is the not urgent, not important category. Waste. This is your basic social media scrolling, watching TV, gossip, etc.
When you spend all your time in Quadrant I, you don’t accomplish anything in Quadrant II. The result is unending crisis and the loss of ability to move out of Quadrant I. You’re stuck in a vicious circle.
How do you use this framework? Analyze how you spend your time. Can you spend 60% in Quadrant II? You may need to let fires burn (and hopefully burn out) in Quadrant to get unstuck from the cycle and make time for your Quadrant II goals.
Five Goals a Day
This is Andy Frisella’s Power List. Wake up every morning and write down five things you want to accomplish that day. Some days it may take you until noon to accomplish your list, other days it may take until midnight. All that matters is that you complete what you set out to accomplish that morning.
It might be difficult to distinguish to what the right five things to write down a day are but the truth is that it doesn’t matter. As long as you are completing the five things every day, in the end, you completed five things. It is easier to stay focused completing five goals than to think about twenty.
If you cannot find time in your business schedule to work on your business, or your Quadrant I goals, make time by scheduling appointments with yourself. Block time off on your calendar and to prevent yourself from scheduling meetings or appointments that would interfere. The world’s busiest entrepreneur, Elon Musk, is a time blocker. “From the second Elon Musk’s head lifts off his bedroom pillow at 7 a.m., his day has already been pre-planned in advance. There’s no room for random interruptions — there are no blocks of time left unscheduled.” (The Ladders)
The Pomodoro Technique
Sitting down to complete a task can sometimes feel daunting and dreadful. Finding the concentration to make it through can be even more challenging. The Pomodoro Technique is a time blocking methodology that breaks up your day into prescribed units of work. Start by completing 25 minutes of work, take a five minute break to regroup, and start up on your next 25 minute cycle. Your work day becomes a cycle of 25+5 minutes of work and break.
What Mike Thinks
At last year’s Trajectify Live Business Growth Conference, Mike spoke about planning and the importance of time management.