Time may be your best friend and your worst enemy as you research, plan, and create your business. Entrepreneurial types are by their very nature hard working, innovative, and unwilling to compromise. Learning how to manage your time is a key strategy.

Time management refers to whatever means available that help you manage time. By managing time wisely entrepreneurs and small business owners can accomplish tasks, projects, and goals.

A business owner may need to work 24/7 at critical times in the business cycle, for instance, before the launch of a new product. Continued working with sleep and breaks for family or leisure time can lead to lack of productivity.

Time management tools were categorized by expert Stephen R. Covey in the following categorization scheme:

  • First generation: reminders from clocks, watches, timers, and computer implementation to alert a person when a task is done. Example set a timer on the half hour to signal when you need to move on to another task.
  • Second generation: planning and preparation based on calendar and appointment books, including goal setting. Kids as young as second grade keep track of homework assignments in a planner, so business owners should have no problem doing the same.
  • Third generation: planning, prioritizing, controlling activities on a daily basis through computers, smartphones, or other PDA-based systems. Example you add all dates to the online calendar for all members of the family and sync this calendar to your phone.
  • Fourth generation: Using any of the tools listed above to schedule your time. Example to share your online calendar with all employees, but also use a paper wall calendar to keep track of the production cycle of your new product.

A time management system may include, but is not limited to, processes, tools, and techniques that help you manage your time. The goal might be to leave work by 8 p.m. each night. You could go in to work at 7 a.m. with a working lunch, but commit to wrap up all tasks by 8 p.m. How will you achieve this goal?

Examine Your Work Habits

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you put off tasks?
  • Are you work well only if your environment is neat? Or are you a hoarder at work?
  • Do you need to do all tasks? As an entrepreneur, you know your product or service inside and out. But, are you able to see how asking for help with mundane tasks would allow you to work on other more important assignments.

Write Everything Down

Every step of the process needs to be completed in a timely manner. By scheduling each step in advance, you will know what steps need to be done and how much time each step will take. Write or type every step in to a spreadsheet or product management software, for instance ReqDB, Accept 360, etc. Share any scheduling documents with all team members.


Every task can’t be a crisis. Set clear directives about what are the highest priority action items. Do the high priority items first, before moving on to less pressing issues.


Starving yourself or delaying food until the assignment is done could lead to mistakes and lost work time. Plan to eat 1-2 small meals instead of breaking for a long lunch. Drink plenty of water.

Stretch Those Legs

Get out of the office for five minutes. Walk to the bathroom. Deliver a memo by hand. Leaving your workspace not only is exercise, but also allows you to have a change of scenery. Ophthalmologists recommend that computer uses take a break every so often by looking away from the monitor.

Grab Your Partners!

If the project has multisteps or you need to work with a partner, talk often about where each of you are in the process. Take breaks together. Walk to the get a drink of water.

Be Flexible

A list of tasks is a guideline for what needs to get done. As a one-man startup company, you may get needlessly bogged down in the details. If you are faltering with getting a task to completion, shift gears by moving to another task. The task list is a guideline, not a binding document. By shifting focus, you will return refreshed to the troublesome projects.

Set Goals

When faced with a list of tasks needed to be done by close of business, you will be overwhelmed and likely will get little of consequence done. Give yourself a break by setting goals for tasks that need to get done immediately, tasks that need to be worked on but not completed, and finally tasks that can wait due to deadlines or missing information.

Subdivide goals in to daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. As an entrepreneur, you have customers, employees, and vendors relying on you. Set goals to complete projects in a timely manner.