Startup Time Management Suggestions
Discover why time management is important and five strategies for regaining control of your time.
Why Is Time Management Important?
Assume you are a software engineer who has decided to leave your job at a major tech firm to start your own business.
You’ve spent countless hours talking with potential customers about their problems and developing a one-of-a-kind software-as-a-service solution that meets their requirements. You’re ready to launch a commercial product after a successful closed beta program.
You’re probably starting to feel a little stressed at this point
You appear to have a half-finished product with a long list of bugs to fix and features to add. At the same time, you may be in charge of non-developmental tasks such as marketing, business development, accounting, and human resources. Even if you work 12- or 14-hour days, there is only so much time in each day to address these issues, particularly if you want to avoid burnout.
Successful business owners are masters of time management. They understand how to set appropriate goals and achieve them through intense focus and effective delegation.
5 Time Management Techniques
On Amazon, there are over 70,000 different books on time management, and Google alone has over 53 million search results.
While there are many commonly recommended strategies for maximizing your time, we have focused on some lesser known strategies that are most beneficial to startup founders and early employees.
1. Concentrate on the Correct Issues
There are a million time management blogs that extol the virtues of goal setting – and for good reason.
Hundreds of correlational and experimental studies have demonstrated that goal setting increases achievement. In one study, for example, college students were guided through a process of setting specific goals and developing detailed strategies to achieve those goals.
Students who completed the goal-setting intervention successfully improved their academic performance by 30% compared to the control group after four months. The issue is that most startups set the wrong goals and/or lack specific strategies for measuring and pursuing those goals.
2. Always (almost) say ‘No’
According to studies, people will say ‘yes’ to a request simply because saying ‘no’ makes them feel even more uncomfortable.
With the average office worker receiving over 120 emails per day, the cost of saying “yes” can be extremely high for almost everyone, but it is even higher for startups. Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of ignoring distractions to their goals and saying “no” to almost everything that crosses their desk, but the principle of saying “no” goes far beyond declining emails and meetings.
The most common issue that many tech startups face is feature creep – or the inability to say “no” to additional scope.
Saying ‘yes’ to every new idea that comes to mind can result in a product that never makes it to market.
Worse, the sudden addition of new features without an extended timeline frequently introduces technical debt, which can make the product more expensive to maintain over time. Meanwhile, these features may make it more difficult for customers to use the product or necessitate additional training for sales and support personnel.
The best way to say ‘no’ to new features is to commit to a minimum viable product, or MVP, that contains the fewest number of features necessary to meet a specific customer’s need. Following the validation of the MVP, each new feature should be vetted through experimentation rather than developed at the request of a small number of customers.
These practices can assist you in avoiding bloated products and making the best use of everyone’s time.
3. Delegate frequently and early.
Most start-ups begin as small one- or two-person teams where everyone works long hours, resulting in the self-enhancement bias.
The more personally invested you are in the development of a product, the higher your opinion of it. It is difficult to delegate responsibilities when you believe that others care less about the product than you do. Recruiting the right people can help, but it can still be difficult to let go of control, even over minor issues.
The best way to start delegating is to start with small tasks that have a low self-enhancement bias.
For example, your startup may have a software-as-a-service application and decide to outsource server-related tasks to a service like EuroVPS. You can concentrate your efforts on the software product rather than devops. You also don’t have the self-enhancement bias that you might have when it comes to the software product itself.
If you are a founder, in addition to using business management software, you may want to consider delegating menial tasks to a virtual assistant, such as scheduling meetings, sorting email, and other things. These services are frequently relatively inexpensive and can free up a significant amount of time to focus on higher-value tasks such as product development.
Other tasks, such as customer service, can be easily outsourced, but if your business is built on customer service, you may want to take a more personal approach early on.
Startups in Time Management
4. At all costs, avoid interruptions.
Meetings are an enormous waste of time – especially for early-stage startups.
Atlassian discovered that the average employee attended more than 60 meetings per month, consuming more than 30 hours of productive time. Meetings were viewed as the single biggest waste of time in the office by nearly half of those polled in the study. As a result, nearly three-quarters of workers did other work, and nearly 90% daydreamed during meetings. Needless to say, it has a negative impact.
These meetings can also be extremely draining on executive resources. To stay on top of a project, startups should hold short, frequent, and informal standup meetings rather than long, formal meetings.
For example, you could gather your team for a quick 10-minute meeting in the morning where each member of the team updates everyone on what they worked on the day before and what’s on their plate for the day ahead, as well as any bottlenecks that they’re currently experiencing.
In addition to meetings, it is critical to provide people – particularly developers – with large blocks of uninterrupted time. Most people understand how to turn off their email or phone to avoid interruptions, but according to a 2011 study published in the journal Organization Studies, face-to-face interruptions account for one-third more intrusions than email or phone calls. Noise-canceling headphones or technologies like FlowLight can often help colleagues understand that you’re in the zone and unavailable for conversion.
5. Organize Your Time
There are numerous time-boxing techniques, but the Pomodoro technique is one of the most effective and time-tested. The technique consists of a 25-minute work interval followed by five-minute breaks, which is then repeated throughout the day with a longer lunch break. There are numerous apps and physical desk instruments – such as hour glasses or online timers – that can aid in the technique’s implementation. These strategies assist you in avoiding cognitive switching costs and, as a result, increasing your work efficiency.
There are thousands of time management techniques, but the five discussed in this post are some research-backed techniques that are frequently overlooked in the thousands of time management blog posts and books published.