As an entrepreneur, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
To make the most of your working hours, maximize your earning potential and keep your sanity, you must treat your time as your most precious resource.
When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I struggled with being in charge of my own time. But over the course of my career, I’ve learned the work habits that are most effective to help me thrive. Today, after helping thousands of other entrepreneurs along their journeys, I’ve seen that many of us have challenges as we take responsibility for ourselves.
If you struggle in this area, these three strategies can help.
- Calculate the value of your time.
Everyone has the same 24 hours every day. As such, you must develop an acute understanding of what your time is worth. It isn’t enough to say, “A lot.” It is vital for you to calculate the value of your time by looking at your production. Divide your revenue by the number of hours you provide your service to determine what one unit of providing that service is worth.
This is critical because, without a specific understanding of the value of your time, you are unable to know which activities are most valuable and worth doing. You might be pleasantly surprised by the value at which you arrived. However, some might also reach the conclusion that, because they’re working 60 hours a week and not all of that is going toward providing a service, they are diminishing their hourly rate.
This is technically true, but there are a few ways you can prioritize how you spend your time so that this is no longer the case. The next strategy will help with that.
- Track how you spend your time.
Write down everything you do in a day. As you do, think about the value of each task. Is it a $20-per-hour task? Or is it valuable enough to be worth the value of your time you just calculated?
Your first task is to find a way to delegate as many of the tasks as possible that are below the value of your time. If you can, hire an assistant (virtual or in-person) who can handle the tasks not directly linked to generating revenue.
If there are financial limitations to delegating these tasks, be as efficient as possible. Try to allocate the bulk of your time to $1,000-per-hour tasks. In my experience, doing so can help produce more revenue that will eventually allow you to hire the necessary staff. The ultimate goal is to eliminate your $20 tasks via delegation.
Throughout my experience, I’ve found lean business practices can help lead to this efficiency. My business, for example, does not have 100 employees. We staff as lean as possible by employing virtual assistants and ops teams. Keep your expenses as low as possible while freeing up your time to engage in your big, revenue-producing activities.
This exercise will also reveal the time vampires you need to slay, such as binge-watching an entire season of your favorite TV show over the weekend. There is a balance between your business duties and personal life, so it is crucial that you develop the discipline to eliminate these vampires.
The way to drive the stake through their heart? Again, write them down. Don’t shy away from admitting how much time they suck from your productivity. It is an eye-opening exercise with tremendous results.
- Be conscious of your time.
To become more efficient with your time, check up on it every day. Know where it is at all times, and strive to never let it get away from you. I believe if you approach the investment of your time in this way, you will see the results immediately.
In the same way that professionals recommend you check up on your money, it’s also critical to account for your time. Think of it this way: You don’t give the barista $100 for your morning coffee and pay no attention to the change you get back. In the same way, you should not allocate 30 minutes to a task and not account for it.
Each week, look through the tasks you did. Constantly evaluate your actions against the value of your time you’ve calculated. Dedicate time to thinking about how to move more of the low-value tasks off your plate.
To that point, as you initiate these methods, document the accumulation of minutes, half-hours, hours and even days you save. Not only can you allocate them toward vacation or time on the links, but you can also put that time back into your business. Furthermore, with each hour you add back to your life by being efficient with your time and eliminating time vampires, the more opportunities you might be able to create to put money back in your pocket.
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This Article first appeared in Forbes