Ask any entrepreneur why they decided to set off on their own, and you’ll likely get the same response: freedom!
Why, then, do many entrepreneurs seem to struggle with time management? We’ve abandoned the traditional nine-to-five for this new lifestyle where we can do whatever we want whenever we want, yet we often end up working more hours and spending less time with our families than we did when we were employed.
It’s one of the most common problems entrepreneurs face. We’re so committed to making our businesses successful that we end up spending every waking moment working on them. And even when we’re not working, we’re thinking about work!
So, how can you prevent this from happening to you? Start by employing one of the greatest time management strategies for entrepreneurs: The Entrepreneurial Time System.
Why entrepreneurs need time management strategies.
When you first start out as an entrepreneur, having the freedom to work when and where you want feels like the ultimate blessing. It’s the dream that so many people chase after, yet never achieve.
But most entrepreneurs soon find that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. One of the downsides of being able to work when and where you want is that you can always be working. As an entrepreneur, there’s no one telling you to go home at the end of day. And for many of us, it’s extremely difficult to stop thinking about our businesses.
In the end, the thing that we’ve all strived for—the freedom of being an entrepreneur—can actually have the exact opposite effect. It can chain us down and force us to work more hours than we ever have.
That is why time management strategies for entrepreneurs have become such a big topic.
And I get it—it may feel wrong or counterintuitive to have to employ a “time management strategy” when your goal is to have the freedom to do as you please. After all, isn’t time management exactly what you wanted to avoid?
But if you don’t consciously focus on this, you’ll never achieve the freedom you desire. In order to do that, you need a strategy.
And when you think about it, we have strategies for everything else, don’t we? From marketing strategies to investment strategies to leadership strategies, there are thousands of strategies for entrepreneurs, and we use them on a daily basis. So why not throw in some time management strategies while we’re at it?
The Entrepreneurial Time System.
As the name implies, The Entrepreneurial Time System is one of the best time management strategies for entrepreneurs. It will help you maximize your productivity, make the best use of your time while you’re working, and dramatically increase the quality of your time while you’re not working.
This system was developed by Dan Sullivan, and it was one of the first tools I learned and implemented in my life after joining The Strategic Coach Program.
When I first joined Strategic Coach, I had been running a financial planning business for ten years. The business was doing well, but it was frustrating—I was spending all my time trying to run the business and keep my clients happy. I felt like a hamster on a wheel, and I wasn’t experiencing the freedom I set out to achieve when I first became an entrepreneur.
My biggest revelation with The Entrepreneurial Time System was that it gave me permission to look at the time I had during the workweek and my free time in a different way.
Looking for a deeper dive into The Entrepreneurial Time System and how to effectively implement it? Download our Entrepreneur’s Guide To Time Management for the complete strategy.
Throughout my life, it had been ingrained in my mind that I was supposed to work Monday through Friday—but there are no rules about when you can or can’t work as an entrepreneur. It can be difficult to shift your mindset and really embrace that, especially when you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur.
I had been working Monday through Friday, spending all day at the office and meeting with clients at night—and I hated it. I was often working from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. I felt confined to these hours, and I felt restricted because I needed to spend all my time working on my business.
The Entrepreneurial Time System gave me permission to change those hours. Instead of meeting with clients at night, I started to meet with clients on Saturday. I took off Friday and stopped working nights because I was able to meet with all of my clients on Saturday and a few days during the week. This one switch saved me hours throughout the week and meant I no longer had to work at night. Ever.
But that’s just one part of it!
The Entrepreneurial Time System gave me permission to take time off and not think about work. It gave me permission to have days where I focus only on what I’m good at, and days where I only take care of the administrative aspects of my business. It has allowed me to be in complete control of how I use my time and how I live my life—instead of letting my clients or my business dictate that.
Free Days, Focus Days, Buffer Days.
The Entrepreneurial Time System involves three types of days: Free Days, Focus Days, and Buffer Days.
Free Days are days where you are totally free. That means you don’t go into the office, you don’t talk to your team, you don’t check your work email, you don’t take work-related phone calls, you don’t meet with clients … you don’t even think about work!
Buffer Days are days where you handle all the administrative work that needs to be done to keep your business running smoothly and to make sure your Free Days are totally free and your Focus Days are totally focused. They’re a great way to get back into the swing of things when you’re coming off of a Free Day.
Focus Days are days where you do the most important activities in your business—the ones that utilize your Unique Ability and make you money. You’ve probably heard that 20 percent of your activities generate 80 percent of your revenue. Well, those are the activities you should be doing on your Focus Days!
Generally, you’ll want to structure your schedule in a way where you transition from Free Day to Buffer Day to Focus Day.
This is one of the best time management strategies for entrepreneurs thanks to its simplicity and flexibility. It’s simple enough that it doesn’t actually feel like a time management strategy, more like a set of guidelines to help you organize your days. And it’s flexible in that you can choose when you implement each type of day.
You’re still in total control of your time and your schedule. But you’ll actually get to take time off and you’ll be more productive when you’re at work!
I often say that Strategic Coach—or any coaching program—is only valuable if you implement the tools and strategies given to you. You’re here for a reason, after all, so put this time management system to use in your life. Starting is the hardest part, but once you start, you’ll soon see the progress you’re making—and it will become easier and easier.