Let’s face it. Time was already strained before COVID-19 happened.
Many of us entrepreneurs have had to cut staff. Or switch to remote and learn a brand new project management system. Or dedicate time to deal with a host of new problems this pandemic has created.
But this is why we’re founders and entrepreneurs, right? We are the ones with the relentless determination and grit that ultimately leads us to find a way to make it work.
Still, it’s harder than ever to get the important stuff done.
That’s why it has NEVER been more important to have incredible time management. The battle between urgent and important has never been more crucial.
If too little happens, you lose. And so do all your employees.
So how do we get more done with less time and more difficult conditions?
There are plenty of productivity tips floating around the internet:
Early to bed, early to rise…(you know the rest)
Get a morning routine
Get enough sleep…but not “too” much
The list goes on
But aside from all that...I’ve found 3 simple questions that have made a much bigger impact than anything else when it comes to my productivity. Thanks to these 3 questions, I’m able to get way more done than I used to.
Here they are:
1. Where am I being the bottleneck right now?
The fact is, as the leader, you are most likely to be the bottleneck.
So do everything in your power to make sure your entire company isn’t waiting for you to accomplish the most important things.
I continuously ask myself and check in with my team to see exactly what they need to succeed in both the short term and long term.
I don’t want my team to be forced to stand by and wait for me—especially when I could have just prioritized a 10-minute task early in the day, which would have kept them from having to wait 4 hours before they could get working.
So ask yourself where you are the bottleneck. Ask yourself where you’re making everyone wait on you. This will get everyone unstuck—and slash down the time estimates for important projects by a ton.
2. What absolutely MUST get done today?
There are a handful of things that only you can do. And within those things, there’s a smaller handful that will help your business take a giant leap forward.
Always schedule time to do these things.
Seriously, though. Literally block it on your calendar—even small things like checking email for a small chunk of time throughout the day.
Work backwards from your 3-5 year, 1 year, and monthly goals. Then review with an advisor to check yourself to ensure these are in alignment with long term growth and strategy.
Then schedule the steps you need to take to get them done. And DO them.
I prefer doing them in the morning, just after I’ve addressed any bottlenecks.
My team knows I’m unavailable when I’m working on these important things. I give myself a block of time to finish them, when my team won’t interrupt me (barring a catastrophe, of course).
Find your priorities, and don’t let ANYTHING stop those from happening. Things will try to derail you, to take your time, and they’ll feel urgent. But make sure your most important things get done.
3. What can be delegated?
With all that in mind, let’s talk about what happens to the things that someone else besides you can do.
As much as humanly possible needs to be done by someone else.
As the leader, you have way too much stuff to do that only you can do.
You’re going to have to trust your team more to accomplish the other things. Give them autonomy. And if they can’t be trusted with that autonomy, then maybe you didn’t hire well enough.
But if you trust your team to make things happen, then let them do what you hired them to do. Without you looking over their shoulder, and without you saying, “Let me just do it.”
Empower your team to do things that don’t have to be done by you, and you’ll have more time to do all the super-important things from question 2.
Try asking those 3 questions each day...and watch what happens to your productivity.
If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself checking off way more tasks from your to-do list.
And we all know how big of a deal that is—especially since as an entrepreneur, there are always 100+ hours of work that needed to be done yesterday.
By getting more of the important stuff done each day, we remove some of the stress and give ourselves more options.
Like the option to grab another 2 hours of sleep. Or the option to pour more energy into our relationship with a specific employee. Or the option to Zoom with a friend and rejuvenate our soul after a long work week. Or the option to work on a non-urgent project you’ve been putting off for months.
With the right planning, you can open up more possibilities for yourself. And these 3 questions will go a long way toward helping you get there.
About the Author:
Chelsie Lee is the Co-founder and CEO of SHIPSI, the delivery technology platform that enables retailers to offer same-day and scheduled delivery without managing any of the logistics. She’s a retail, technology, and supply chain expert who has consulted 500+ top retailers and brands on business strategy, growth, and execution. Among her previous clients are Saks Fifth Avenue, New Look, UGG, O’Neill, Nike and more. In addition to being nominated for EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Chelsie is also a contributor to the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, a mentor to emerging brands, a surf enthusiast, and a yoga instructor. She currently resides in Venice, CA.