Juggling time management in a startup

This is the second of five articles written by Springwise and brought to you by UPS.

We often speak to startup founders who tell us that one of the most difficult aspects of starting a business is finding the time to do all the wide-ranging tasks that are required when getting a project off the ground. Founding a business often requires dexterous multi-tasking skills and the slimline nature of most new businesses means that is often the responsibility of one person to work on myriad aspects of a business – a jack of all trades approach.

Time management is crucial in a working day where a to-do list can cover everything from finances to networking. Fred Caballero, founder of Startup Stay – a service that connects travelling entrepreneurs with like-minded hosts – has experienced the difficulty of working on several tasks at once. “It’s never easy. I wouldn’t say that “managing” is the difficult part but prioritising is what makes you stand out. In other words, not only understanding what and why goes first but also being OK with dumping tasks that won’t get done. Usually the problem is that you want to tackle everything and that’s already not possible. Hitting the wall is the only way (most of the time) to become better at juggling/dumping tasks.”

It can also be tempting to focus on tasks that are easy to complete or quick, in order to get them out of the way. However, interviews with numerous successful startup founders suggests that it is preferable to prioritize tasks based on urgency. Robert Barmore, founder of ThermaHexx, says: “Prioritize the most critical items that will lead to sales and revenue, primarily, getting the word out so you get the orders in. You must work to re-focus as you get distracted by a million other things during the day.”

timemanagementUPS1There can also be a flipside to a business that is doing well. As much as every founder dreams of success with their business, it can also make it harder to prioritize tasks as there are always new targets to meet. Fred Caballero feels that founders needs to be ruthless when deciding which tasks are worthy of their full attention. “I’m still getting better at it [prioritizing work] and I’m far from being an expert but basically, anything that becomes a priority is something that helps us move forward towards the current goals. Anything else should be delegated or sent to the bin. Every level becomes more difficult because, besides whatever new goals you have, you must keep alive what you’ve built so far and that takes time too.”

Running a business requires numerous skills in order to effectively address the many different tasks required in to day-to-day operations. It can be hard to foresee the breadth of jobs that a founder will be required to master in order to run a successful startup. As a result, time management can be one of the most important facets of a smoothly operating business. Allowing enough time to focus on trickier or less familiar jobs will mean that nothing falls by the wayside and free up time for focusing on future targets – surely the ideal way to structure your working day.

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