As an entrepreneur, I'm always strapped for time. I’ve reached the point where I literally don’t breathe without thinking about how I can further my business aspirations. If you want to make it big, you need to realize the value of your time.
When last month I launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund my startup, I didn't sleep the first three days, it seems. The results showed, though, as we reached our $15,000 funding goal by the end of Day 3. Launching and running a company drains you of time.
I’m a sophomore in college with a full load of classes. I am also a senator in my university’s student government, the vice president our of entrepreneurship organization, the marketing chair of the Student International Business Council and a tutor for the Chinese Language Union. I manage all this along with my company, Yes Man Watches.
I’ve learned three vital solutions for effectively managing time on a daily basis. Realize that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, yet to make the most of time you need to consider your use of it. If you think someone is doing more with his or her day, you’re probably not utilizing your time efficiently.
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1. Set short term goals to achieve long-term ones. This technique can be applied to almost anything. For example when launching my Kickstarter campaign, I made a to-do list that included writing my campaign page, shooting my video, contacting bloggers, among other things. My long-term goal was to launch a Kickstarter campaign while my to-do list included shorter-term goals that could be broken down even further. Shooting my video could be broken down into these components: finding a reputable videographer and writing the script and storyboard.
I also apply this goal-setting approach at school: If I have an eight-page English paper due in two weeks, my long-term goal is to complete my paper while my short-term goal would be to write an outline of it.
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2. Use apps. Technology can help you manage your time efficiently. One of my favorite tools on my iPhone is simply my reminder app. Each night before I go to sleep, I write down at least three goals for the next day. This helps me have an agenda handy when I wake up and I try not to go to bed before setting my goals for the following day.
Social media is a huge distraction and time sink for people today. Though social media can be a great digital tool, if you’d like to limit your time on Facebook, Twitter or any other website, start using this Google Chrome extension: Stayfocused. This productivity app enables you to limit the amount of time you spend on any website page. I set a daily limit of 30 minutes for Facebook use. Once my 30 minutes is up, Stayfocused blocks it.
3. Plan your day. Instead of focusing on the time you don’t have, look at your free time and allocate it effectively. I look at my class schedule, see what free time I have and then use it to follow up on my daily reminders. If you work full-time, realize that your 9-to-5 job takes up just one-third of your day. Reframe the way you look at your day and you’ll realize you have more time than you previously thought.
Once you're aware of the free time slots in your schedule, start planning what you’re going to do with them. As an entrepreneur, I’d suggest utilizing your free time to reach some of your short-term goals that will help you attain a longer-term one. For example during the stretch when I was contacting media outlets for my Kickstarter launch, if I had 20 minutes between classes, I’d try to add a few relevant blogs to my media-contact list.
The most valuable asset we have in our lives is time. Once you understand how to effectively manage your time, you’ll fully realize its worth. As Michael LeBoeuf said, "Waste your money and you're only out of money, but waste your time and you've lost a part of your life.”
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