When you’re working around the clock to run a company, every second you save can make the difference between meeting your goals and falling short. It can also make the difference between having a life and lacking one. So, you learn every possible way there is to shave time off your day. Here are some tactics I’ve picked up while balancing my role as the founder and CEO of Roomi with my roles as a friend, family member, and human being.
- Delegate as many tasks as possible. Decide what you’d enjoy most, do best, or add most value to and what you can leave for your team.
- Attend meetings virtually when possible. If there’s no need to meet someone else at their office, save yourself the travel time and dial them in from yours.
- Learn to say “no.” I used to get coffee with every new college grad who wanted to network or get advice from me. Now, I just ask for their resume and offer to make introductions over email.
- Hold meetings during meals. You have to eat anyway, so use that time to check something else off your to-do list and leave yourself with one less responsibility afterward.
- Schedule things during times when you know you’ll slack off. If you tend to nap or mindlessly browse the web around 3 p.m., for example, commit to a meeting or social event then so you have no choice.
- Multi-task while you’re on the phone. Unless you’ve got a super important meeting that requires your full attention, you can usually take calls while you’re walking to work, cleaning, or doing other mindless tasks.
- Make good use of your social time. Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be productive. Use work events and lunch breaks, for example, to really get to know your coworkers and discuss your work from a broader perspective.
- Start your day early. I get up around 5 a.m. so that I have five full hours just to myself. By the time I get to work, I already feel like I’ve accomplished a lot that day.
- Don’t take any meetings before noon. I use the morning to take care of everything my team needs from me so they’re not waiting on me all day.
- Only attend the parts of meetings where you’re actually needed. I’ll sometimes pop in and out when I have to speak or listen, and if I’m afraid I might miss something, I’ll have a teammate take notes.
- Designate alone time. I often find a booth or keep in headphones when I need to focus on something.
- Set reminders for yourself. I use Google Calendar and Slack for this. Otherwise, I’m totally lost.
- Put your phone away. I try not to check my phone at my desk and instead peek at it when I’m waiting around anyway, like while I’m on the subway or in line for the bathroom.
- Tune out unnecessary communications. Since I trust that people who need me urgently will reach me over email, I avoid checking Slack when I have something to get done. It’s OK to ignore things that aren’t your top priority.
As a startup entrepreneur, you have to accept that not everything you want to do will get done. Some things will fall through the cracks. Your job is just to make sure the most important things don’t.