Mastering Time Management & Overcoming Procrastination
Procrastination can be one of the most frustrating challenges that entrepreneurs continually face. Whether it’s an incoming deadline, a personal goal, or a team that’s counting on you, it seems like there’s no match for a difficult rut of procrastination.
Effectively managing your time—and keeping a few proven procrastination-busters on hand—are often the solution you need to get back on track with your goals. Whether you’re starting your own life coaching business, building a personal website, or coming up with your own novel business idea, we’re here to help.
Keep this guide handy, and the next time you find yourself stuck on a task and unable to complete it, you can refer back to these effective methods.
Effective Time Management Techniques
Time management can often be one of the most challenging parts of starting your own business. Entrepreneurs often face a number of competing priorities, deadlines, and commitments. It’s hard to know which to prioritize and how much time to spend on any given thing.
That’s where time management techniques can come in handy. There are plenty out there, but we’ve selected three of our favorites. Try these techniques or mix and match to see what works for your INDIEpreneur schedule.
Using a Physical Planner
In this day and age, it’s easy to rely on planning software and online calendars. However, there’s a serious benefit to sitting down and keeping track of your to-do’s with pen and paper. This practice can be much more mindful than simply putting something in an online calendar and forgetting about it.
Physical planners are more than just a list of things to do. It’s a way to keep all your obligations and goals handy. The best part is that keeping a physical planner is a great way to disconnect. Rather than opening your online calendar and getting distracted by emails, you can sit down and focus entirely on your offline, low-tech schedule.
There are a myriad of paper planner options available online, and you can also make your own from scratch using a method like bullet journaling. The exact method is up to you—but the benefits of putting pen to paper are undeniable.
Use The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a creative way to keep track of your time in a way that keeps you accountable while still allowing you important break times. After all, breaks are an essential part of work—nobody is at their most productive when they’re feeling overburdened and exhausted.
The Pomodoro Technique distills your productivity time into 25-minute chunks, separated by five-minute breaks. Then, after four cycles, you can take a longer, 15 or 20-minute break. This method maximizes productivity time during your 25-minute deep-focus sprints, then refreshes you with a quick and much-needed break once you’re tapped out.
What most people don’t realize is that when you’re forcing yourself to sit in front of the computer for six hours without taking a break, you’re actually losing productivity time. Your mind wanders, you lose focus, and you don’t get into that consistent workflow we all crave. Adding in five-minute breaks is just what your mind needs to stay at peak performance, making this a highly effective time management technique.
Breaking It Down and Timing Tasks
When you’re staring down a 20-item to-do list, it’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed. Rather than tackling a portion of your tasks, or even one of your tasks, you might dabble here and there, not finishing anything.
Instead of jumping from task to task—or even worse, stare blankly at your computer screen for several hours—get strategic with your planning. Break down each task into smaller tasks that are easily digestible. Decide ahead of time how much time you want to spend on each one, or how much you realistically think it will take.
Then, once you have a map of all your tasks and the time it’s likely to take, get started on one and see it through. Then, whether you’re using the Pomodoro method or just freestyling, give yourself a little break. Then get started on the next task.
Pro-tip: give yourself a little appetizer. Don’t start with the biggest item on your to-do list; you’ll probably feel overwhelmed. Instead, start with something you can hammer out quickly. The rush of getting it done might just give you the boost you need to move on to the next item on your list.
Effective Ways to Move Through Procrastination
Time management strategies are one thing, but procrastination can be a whole other beast. You can set up your planner, commit to using the Pomodoro Technique, and plan all your tasks and timing, and still end up sitting back scrolling through your socials.
So, what do you do when procrastination strikes? Check out these seriously effective procrastination busters that will get your head back in the game.
Focus on the WHY
There’s probably a good reason that you’re doing what you’re doing. Are you working on your passion project? Turning a fun side-hustle into your main gig? Building a business out of your hobby?
Whatever your reason, knowing your WHY is essential to getting your head back on track when you’re procrastinating. Without knowing your WHY, tasks can feel pointless. However, centering the reason that’s guiding it all is often what you need to feel that spark of motivation again.
Here are a few exercises that you can use to refocus on the WHY:
Create a vision board with everything you hope to achieve. That might be a dream home, car, family, travel, or whatever it is that gets you up and hustling in the morning.
Create a master plan. Setting goals and having an actionable plan are keys to success..
Give yourself a pep talk. Sometimes you need someone to help you refocus and keep your eye on the prize. And sometimes, that someone is you. Try a mirror pep talk next time you’re feeling distracted
Name Your Fear
It’s not just a lack of focus that causes people to forget their purpose. Sometimes, there’s something else holding you back: fear. Fear can come in all shapes and sizes, and no one is immune. Entrepreneurs who are just starting out on new projects are often afraid of failure; it’s only natural.
The key is to be able to name your fear so that it doesn’t have to stand in your way. You might be procrastinating, finding little distractions, or losing hours down social media rabbit holes. And this might be because you’re worried about doing a bad job, trying and failing, or not being recognized for your work.
Once you name the fear, it becomes easier to overcome. Naming it doesn’t make it immediately go away, but it allows you to actually face it for what it is, rather than just believing you’re easily distracted. Once you’ve searched your feelings and named the fear, it’s time to do something about it:
Journaling is always a great way to work through your thoughts and get everything down in one place.
Mindfulness exercises can help you turn big fears into smaller challenges that you feel more motivated to overcome.
It’s not easy to go it alone, even if you are an INDIEpreneur. Sometimes, all you need is a partner who can help you stay on top of your tasks and keep you in the zone. Accountability partners assist many entrepreneurs and other professionals in staying locked in and focused, even when it’s tempting to start procrastinating.
An accountability partner might be someone who you’re working with on a startup project, someone who has a parallel project who you can co-work, or even just a friend you find online that helps you stay motivated.
Some ways that you and your partner can help each other include:
Sharing to-do lists with each other and checking in at the end of the day
Having check-ins throughout the day to see how the other is doing
Give each other pep talks to get through difficult hurdles
Share different time management strategies you’ve each developed
Just knowing that there’s someone else you have to report to can sometimes be a good motivator to get everything you need done. However, it’s also important to know when to be lenient with each other. Accountability should never mean getting angry if your partner doesn’t finish something by a deadline!
How to Manage Time: Entrepreneur’s Takeaways
Time management is often one of the hardest parts of getting tasks done. Sometimes, it’s even harder than the task itself! But with a few time management strategies and techniques for overcoming procrastination, you can master your to-dos.
Here are a few tricks to remember. For time management strategies, try these out:
Keep a physical planner instead of an online calendar.
Try the Pomodoro Technique to stay productive and refreshed.
Break down tasks and time them to make things manageable.
And the next time you need a procrastination buster, give these a shot: