Tips for Time Management in a Startup Environment

Time-Management

A guide to maximizing productivity and keeping up with tight schedules

A startup is a young company with a unique product or service. Startups tends to disrupt the market by either making an entirely new category for themselves or by fulfilling the shortcomings of pre-existing products and services. Unlike most conventional companies, startups develop their ideas as quickly as possible. Active study of the market and quick turnaround time makes it important for a startup to know how to effectively manage time.

Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Thus knowing exactly how much time to give your tasks is pivotal. Read on for some tips to effectively manage time to improve workplace productivity.

Maintaining a schedule

The first and the most important aspect of effective time management is to maintain a schedule. When making a schedule, one must list tasks in order of importance. This is called the Eat the Frog method. This method requires one to list tasks by importance and difficulty. ‘The frog’ is the hardest and most important task, which thereby needs to be completed first.

In a broader sense, maintaining a schedule also helps a person look at their week or month at a glance. This can make it simpler for a person to plan their future commitments accordingly.

Another successful scheduling technique is technocrat Elon Musk’s Timeboxing method. Much like a simple daily schedule, timeboxing requires one to list out all the tasks for a day. However, unlike a list, this technique merges a schedule with a calendar. It assigns specific time slots to tasks within which they must be accomplished. Businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates swears by timeboxing as well. He divides his daily tasks into 5-minute slots to ensure personal accountability.

Making deadlines

Time blocking leads to the second most important component of time management, which is having clear deadlines. Even in workplaces where there might not be rigid deadlines, assigning a deadline to oneself can help one stay on top of the day-to-day tasks. Deadlines give work a sense of urgency which can make tasks easier to accomplish.

Time management softwares, like Chrometa and Asana, can be an efficient way to figure out how to plan these deadlines. These softwares can help a business learn exactly how long a task would take to complete. They can also give positive affirmations to the employees when they finish tasks within the stipulated time.

These software also make it much simpler to assign tasks to specific employees. These apps send reminders, making it easier for employees to keep track of what they need to start working on.

Giving specific instructions about the expectations of a task can also reduce the time taken in completing it. A clear set of instructions will reduce the number of edits or reworks required in a task.

Inbox Management

According to the research by McKinsey Global Institute, a typical workplace spends 13 hours a week on emails. This means that 28% of work time each week is utilized in employee interaction. To reduce this time, McKinsey suggests moving to less formal ways of communicating, such as social media platforms. This can make workers 25% more productive.

Alex Moore, the CEO of the digital marketing company Boomerang, says that one must be aggressive with hitting the spam button. This can make the process of sifting through hoards of emails easier. When the action of deleting every unnecessary mail is spaced out over the course of the day, it can eat up one’s productive hours. He thus suggests using the spam button instead.

For those looking to effectively manage the time they spend on emails, Inbox Zero is an effective technique. This technique focuses on keeping the inbox empty or almost empty at all times! Productivity expert Merlin Mann identifies 5 key actions to take when one receives an email – delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

He suggests periodically processing one’s emails. When processing them, actively delete those which require no response, and forward those which are better answered by someone else. He also encourages one to immediately reply to those emails which do not take more than a few minutes to respond to.

For emails that need a longer response time, one must creates a separate folder so that those emails are not forgotten. A specific time must then be delegated in a day to respond to these emails.

Learning how to make room for me time

Finally, block your own time! This can help direct attention to the projects one might have been specifically assigned to. In offices that have been planned as open spaces, communicating with fellow employees can take up a significant portion of the day. One way to get some time to oneself is to start the workday earlier than usual. Or, communicate with one’s manager to prioritize. This ensures that everything is planned to accommodate fully for a project.

Time management methods vary from person to person. Look at how Bill Gates and Warren Buffett plan their schedules! The difference couldn’t be clearer. While Gates fills up his entire schedule with work, Buffett has days with nothing on his schedule. Gates says that Buffet’s schedule taught him an important lesson – “It’s not a proxy of your seriousness that you’ve filled every minute in your schedule.”

Gates also says that he realized that brainstorming can be a top priority, which cannot be factored into a schedule. For instance, Isaac Newton came up with the Theory of Gravity after his university was shut down due to the Great Plague. Thus, while attempting to become more time-efficient, it is pertinent to understand that creativity grows from taking time for oneself.

Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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