In the life of an entrepreneur, we quickly learn that to make our work translate to success, we need to manage resources effectively. Money, relationships, social capital, time, experience, access etc. (yup! All those are resources/Currencies and if you have not been "spending" them, you may want to re-evaluate your asset records). Some of them are renewable, and others are not. Time is a non-renewable resource: once it is gone, it's gone, and for most of us, working independently means that we have to be self-governed, and manage the resource called time. Otherwise, all the other resources would go to waste.
Time Hack 1: Prioritizing
The first thing I had to face is that 20% of the work you do produces 80% of the results you need. It's called the Pareto principle and is probably the most significant switch up that you need. Becoming more productive is to find the most important 20% of the things meant to be done and prioritize them. Everything else can be delegated, automated, or rescheduled. Oh! The very first thing is that 24 hours is enough. If it was enough for God to work in shaping the world, then it is enough for you to get something done. The major battle is to find which things are the most important, to fit into each 24-hour block, to produce maximum results.
Once you can crack this, you are on your way to considerable progress. Like I love to say, God spoke the world into being but took time to mold humans. What work are you hugging that should have been delegated/automated? You could look at work from different perspectives when prioritizing:
»» Zone 1. Urgent and important
»» Zone 2. Important but not urgent
»» Zone 3. Urgent but not important
»» Zone 4. Not urgent and not important
A lot of us function from Zone 1...adrenaline pumps, we fire up, do a rush job, feel fly. The problem with zone 1 is that you may not be doing your best work, and you are prone to mistakes — a bonus problem: the risk of burnout. Tasks in zone 2, if not attended to in time, would also end up in Zone 1. Zone 1 and 2 contain the many different tasks that drive you towards your goals. They must be done.
For example, the deep work of creating content/products for your business, building company strategy, etc. As your business grows, a lot more stuff leaves the deep work zone, and can be delegated. One of the reasons we often get stuck is that we are still holding on too tightly to what we should have begun to delegate, and so have little or time to either do the important 20%, or we face burnout from inadequate rest.
Zone 3 refers to the things that show up in our schedule due to other people. They do not have a direct bearing on the realization of our goals/growth, but they are important to the other party. For example, helping your friend to review her CV or business plan. Winning the daily time game is to determine what is your deep 20% and decide which one(s) you would do that day. Then, look at Zone 1, and determine what would get done, delegated, or rescheduled. The second major bulk of your time should be to systematically deplete Zone 2 items, such that they never enter Zone 1. Leave a bit of room for the unplanned emergencies, the Zone 3 items, and lastly, as much as you can afford, indulge yourself in Zone 4 items (like watching movies) to unwind.
Time Hack 2: Energy Cycles
The second major hack I have found is to work with energy cycles (and resources) to create a schedule that works for you. Just because the "world" rises at 5 and goes to bed by 9 doesn't mean that you absolutely must. As much as you can, schedule your work based on your energy and creative flow. If you do your most creative work at 10 pm, your trade-off may be to sleep earlier so you can be awake and alert by 10 to create. If you are an early morning person, going to bed early and waking up by 3 am to map out the next steps may be your option. You might choose to work on emails at 5 pm etc.
Create a schedule that works for you. If you do not like where you are, please move. You are not a tree. Team up with your housemates and team members to build a system that favors everybody. It is possible. Lastly, every day, do something that draws you closer to the sort of life that you want to live.