Picture: 123RF/STILLFX
Picture: 123RF/STILLFX

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve realised that one of my biggest problems is the burden of opportunity: the tendency to take advantage of every good thing.

I only have so much time during the day and once I use it, it’s gone. I can attribute my successes and my failures during my journey to the moments when I decided to use my time for one thing over another.

Time is a resource like any other. If you aren’t treating it like the investment it should be, it is time to start thinking about budgeting your time in the same way you budget your money.

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else” — Peter F Drucker.

Drucker’s quote is a classic and one that’s always worth revisiting. Until you’ve started managing your time, it’s hard to be effective at managing any of the other demands of your business. 

Here are my top three time management tips that have helped me increase my personal production and business revenue.

Schedule everything

You can’t trust your memory. Even if you believe you are accurately keeping in mind all the things that you need to do, more often than not you have forgotten something or misremembered an important detail. As an entrepreneur, you can’t diminish the value of writing down, if possible, every task at hand. Find what works for you. You can either be more traditional by keeping a pocket notebook that you can always carry around or keep an online calendar. There are plenty of time management and scheduling calendar services online.

Anticipate interruptions

An extension to the time management practice I’ve suggested above is to anticipate interruptions, personal as well as business related. An employee suddenly needs to go on long leave, a mishap at the workplace, your car breaking down on a solitary road, a howling e-mail from your top client. It could be anything.

If your schedule is packed to the brim with your own tasks, it becomes hard to adjust and accommodate these contingencies. Therefore, it’s crucial that you keep at least some white space in your daily schedules, so that your daily and weekly targets are not flayed off track because of emergencies.

The Ivy Lee method

The desire to be more productive and make better use of your time isn’t a new pursuit. The concept of “productivity hacks” goes back over a century to when consultant Ivy Lee helped transform productivity levels within the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1918.

The Ivy Lee Method involves the following five-step process:

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish the next day. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritise those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. The next day concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

Identifying in writing what you need to do first thing the next day only takes a few minutes but it can lead to some incredible results.

Being self-employed is not for the faint of heart. Business is unpredictable and not learning how to properly manage your time makes a difficult journey impossible. Learn to manage your time more appropriately

• Luthuli is an independent financial adviser and the founder of Luthuli Capital.