Managing Your Time as an Entrepreneur is Different

To some, entrepreneurship may seem like the answer to the universe. You get to work for yourself? Doing literally whatever you want? You have no boss? You make your own hours? Perfect!

The thing no one really tells you, though, is that it takes a specific type of person to be a successful entrepreneur. And that’s mostly because you’re working for yourself, doing literally whatever you want, you have no boss, and you make your own hours. But you also have to make money somehow.

And making money when you work for no one else requires serious commitment, personal motivation, and time management.

Let’s go through some time management tips for entrepreneurs and talk to our co-founder, Taylor, to get some real-life advice from him. And learn exactly why he says Gary Vaynerchuk sucks at time management.

Time Management Top Tips

Define your priorities

The reason we start with this as our #1 tip is because we truly believe that everything starts in the mind. Once you have mentally defined your priorities, you’re more likely to reflect them in the way you manage your time. 

So, if you’re having trouble with time management, sit down and figure out your priorities. What truly matters most to you, both in work and just in life? What’s your ultimate goal? Then, take a hard look at how you’re spending your time. If you’re not spending the majority of your time on your top three priorities, you need to re-work some things.

We wanna be really clear about something right now. What we’re NOT telling you here is to put your business before everything else in your life and only focus all your attention and effort on that. It will kill you.

The whole point of time management is to train yourself to work well while you’re at work… then leave it there. Taylor covers this a bit later, but this is exactly why this blog is titled what it is. Here’s what Gary V, a famous billionaire entrepreneur (that some people actually listen to) says about managing your time:

time management, Why Gary Vaynerchuk Sucks at Time Management

We could not disagree more. This will destroy your life and your relationships, and Taylor will give you more of his thoughts on that in a bit. For now, let’s move on.

Learn to manage your attention

This is something we came across in our research for this blog and we like it so we’re takin’ it. Time management is a somewhat outdated idea. It’s more about attention management. You can set a schedule for yourself, but if you can’t manage your attention within that schedule, you’ll never get anything done.

We like this tip because it automatically covers a lot of other, smaller tips that have been floating around for years, like minimizing distractions, scheduling everything out, and timing your tasks. All of these things require that you manage your attention.

Organize your tasks

This one is our most basic white girl tip. That’s to say, pretty much everyone says this, but it’s true. Look at what needs to get done, then categorize it into three areas:

  1. Has to get done now
  2. Can be done but isn’t urgent
  3. Can wait till the apocalypse if it has to

Don’t even think about that last category unless the first two are completely empty. Do the most important things right away. At the beginning of the week, day, whatever. And don’t wait for inspiration, just start and revise/edit/re-work later. Waiting until you’re inspired is how you psych yourself out and overthink to the point where it never gets done.

We have abnormal thoughts on time management…

If you’ll notice, two out of our three tips aren’t action based, they’re mindset based. It’s like we said at the beginning: it takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur. Your mental game has to be seriously strong because you’ve got no one pushing you except yourself. 

Your time is entirely your own, so your mind has to be trained to deal with that in order to manage that time well.

Let’s get some advice based on real world experience

You can Google time management tips all day, but we always like to actually bring real people into it and learn from their experience. So let’s hear from Taylor to get some of his thoughts on healthy time management as an entrepreneur.

When you first started really trying to build Wolf & Key, what were some of the steps you took to manage your time well?

I needed to section out my day. Reports in the morning, client touch points mid morning, getting with the team to see where they’re at in the afternoon, and getting my actual work done towards the end of the day.

What were some of the challenges when it came to defining your priorities? Did they change over time?

In the beginning I had my priorities wrong. I was hustling and spending 80 hours per week trying to grow my business. I know Gary V would hate me for saying this, but fuck him. Don’t misunderstand your priorities. Quality of life is THE most important thing. Constantly make time and space for yourself to feel things, to experience things, and get your priorities straight.

When we first started working hard to build Wolf & Key, my number one priority was work and everything else came after. I was miserable, but the business was growing, so I thought we were successful. Now, after years of work on the business, myself, and my family, my priorities go God, family, business. You can still be 100% successful without putting in 80+ hours per week. And you’ll be way happier for doing so. Yeah it may take a bit longer than if you sacrificed your relationships and well being… but nothing on this earth is worth sacrificing that. Now, I’m healthier mentally and physically, and WK is actually growing faster than before.

How do you manage the mental game of being an entrepreneur?

Just being ready to adapt and being as flexible as possible. Knowing things aren’t always going to go right, and being prepared to fix an any level issue, whether it’s full on catastrophe or someone waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

Anything else to add?

As an entrepreneur you need to make your FIRST business move to start regaining your time. Hire contractors, get assistants, whatever you need to do to remove yourself from the weeds and get your priorities straight. Your first order of business should be to replace yourself so you can work on other projects, businesses or work on steering the ship.

If you’re looking for even more time management tips, we found an awesome post that has some really helpful ones. See you back here next week!