We asked 15 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council how they’ve learned to manage their time more efficiently. Their best answers are below.
1. Maintain a Progressive Task List
I like to keep a progressive task list that accounts for everything that needs to get done. It’s complete with status, priority level, due date, assignment and more. It’s my diligence with keeping on track and organized that has brought me so much success. I keep to this document at the start and end of my day as part of my routine, in order to manage my time and schedule. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
2. Say No Without Regret
While building a business that is growing and gaining more visibility, you’ll have scores of people wanting to meet for no purpose and without ever having a clear agenda for a discussion. Learning to say no and steering clear of these time vampires is absolutely essential. Being deliberate with your time needs to be a priority. – Reza Chowdhury, AlleyWatch
3. Wake Up Earlier, in Increments
I shift my bedtime and wake up 15 minutes earlier every day. This eventually gives me the flexibility to wake up, eat breakfast, prepare for the day and exercise, all at my own pace. It feels great getting a jumpstart on any day, but on weekends, it’s like tricking yourself into feeling like you have a longer Saturday. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP
4. Ignore Your Phone in the Morning
I sleep with my iPhone set to airplane mode and in another room, all so that it can’t disturb me while sleeping. This also keeps me from automatically checking it first thing in the morning or playing with it if I’m having a restless night of sleep. When I’m at work, I also set my iPhone to “do not disturb,” so that I can focus without interruption in the morning. – Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
5. Reflect in the Morning on What’s Ahead
Each morning, I grab a coffee, sit in a comfortable chair and think about what’s ahead. That includes my tasks, as well as how I should approach them and what could go wrong. I find negative visualization to be a useful technique to prepare myself for the ups and downs of the coming day. I then spend some time focusing on the things I have to be grateful for, and then it’s off to work. – Vik Patel, Future Hosting
6. Reprioritize Tasks As Circumstances Change
Often times, we build to-do lists with specific goals in mind, but those goals can change throughout the week or even the day and it’s super important to go back to the list and indicate what’s still relevant. This routine of constantly asking yourself, “Is this still important for me to accomplish this week?” is an extremely productive way of cutting off things that are not aligned with your goals. – Artur Kiulian, Colab
7. Identify a Single Goal That Needs to Be Accomplished That Day
At the start of my day, I identify the single most important thing that needs to be accomplished that day and write it down. The process of identifying a single goal forces me to think through my bigger list and prioritize. Starting a business presents a lot of competing priorities, as well as a never-ending to-do list, so identifying and focusing on a single priority can help keep you rooted. – Tucker Cottingham, Mystacks, Inc.
8. Make Sure to Delegate Tasks to Team Members
When I started my company, I was not that good at delegating tasks. I was trying to be everywhere, which required me to work 60 hours a week. Now I have learnt the art of delegating: Before I do a task, I try to see if one of my team members can do it, and then assign it to them. I do follow up to make sure they did it. This has brought me to around 45 hours a week, and we achieve more. – Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
9. Limit Meetings and Calls
I only schedule a handful of calls and meetings each week. This leaves me room for last-minute questions, needs or emergencies that always pop up. If a client needs to hop on a call for something time-sensitive, I’m available. And if the day is relatively quiet, then I’m able to tackle my inbox and to-do list uninterrupted. – Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
10. Step Away From Electronics
I set times throughout the day to not go on my mobile devices, television or any other electronic device that sucks up considerable time. I enjoy these on breaks from my primary work. Unless I’m researching or working in a collaborative environment, I also stay off social media or Google for a certain amount of time. – Zach Binder, Ipseity Media
11. Use a Time Tracker Daily
Tracking your time is the most basic way to improve time management. For some, getting in the habit of starting a time tracker at the beginning of the day can take some getting used to, but once you do, productivity will sky rocket. Tracking my time has allowed me to see exactly where I’m spending too much or too little time, so I can shift my schedule around accordingly. – Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
12. Block Out Interruption-Free Time
Every day I have a block of time in my schedule that is interruption free. This time block allows me to fully focus on the job at hand without constant interruption. This means email is off, no calls and no social media: I’m 100 percent focused on what needs to get done. – Abhilash Patel, Abhilash.co
13. Plan Out Your Week Ahead of Time
Every Sunday night, I plan out everything that needs to get done during the upcoming week for it to be a success. This doesn’t mean I lay out every little task, but just getting the big picture organized and on paper has allowed me to stay focused and productive like never before. – James Simpson, GoldFire Studios
14. Keep Your Inbox Relevant
One of the biggest time-consuming tasks in my daily activities is managing my inbox. I have become an expert at removing myself from newsletters, blocking unwanted spammers and requesting that my employees be brief. By aggressively managing my inbox, I have been able to keep my messages relevant and easy to manage. As a result, I have more time to do what I need to build my business. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
15. Exercise Regularly
Exercising consistently allows me to stay sharp and fit. Exercise helps me be more efficient with my time, and I’m far more lethargic on days I don’t work out. The time spent taking care of yourself is an invaluable investment. – Adam Mendler, Custom Tobacco
The answers above are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.