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5 Time Management Tips for the Employed Entrepreneur

by Shawanda Greene

Blue alarm clockI don’t subscribe to the popular belief that time is money. Time is far more precious.

Don’t tell my Bible thumping friends I said this, but the older I get, the more I question whether another life exists beyond this one.

I don’t wanna hang my hopes on an uncertain afterlife. All I know is what I have right now–and what I have is limited.

When I tell people that I quit my job, their eyes light up. Many express how they wish they could do the same. They can, but they won’t. Why? Two big demotivators usually come up:

Fear of Failure

Naturally, we wanna win. Losing sucks so bad that we don’t keep score at kids’ ballgames anymore. Apparently, failure is too traumatic for our nation’s children.

Lack of Time

If you’re like most people, you’re reluctant to give up a “sure thing.” You want a dependable source of income before you leave your job. That makes sense. We can start a side business! Oh, but wait, you’re too busy.

We’ll deal with fear another day. Today, let’s find you some time.

Weed Out Time Wasters

Being busy doesn’t mean you’re productive. Many activities eat up a lot of time and provide little benefit.

Do you really think your child will become a better person because you drag them to ballet, gymnastics, and karate every week?

You’re running yourself ragged. And for what? So that your kid can be terrible in three sports instead of one?

Like money, you can waste time on almost anything.

Bad relationships: Don’t squander time on people who make you miserable. Not only are you unhappy when you’re with them, but even when they’re not around, you’re mentally anguished. Which makes it harder for you to get things done. George Washington nailed it when he said, “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

Procrastination: Sometimes procrastination is pretty harmless. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen if you let your All You Magazine subscription expire? On the other hand, wait too long to get a cavity filled, and you’ve created more work for yourself. Your tooth won’t magically fix itself. So, either spend an hour and $250 dealing with it now or three hours and $1,250 dealing with it later.

Disorganization: If you frequently buy items you already own, then it’s time to get it together, honey. Organizing your home doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Throw out (or donate) crap you don’t use, and put the rest where you can find it. A key hook and clear shoe boxes will change your life.

Television: The average American watches about nineteen hours of television per week. That’s a part-time job. Are you truly amused by the shows you watch, or do you use them to avoid work?

E-Mail: How often do you get emails that require an instant reply? Don’t answer that; I already know. Urgent AND important emails are a rarity indeed. Log out of your email accounts. Turn off message notifications on your phone. If your friends, family, or coworkers desperately need to contact you, tell them to do it the old fashioned way, and CALL!

Wake Up Early

The Snooze Proof ClockInitially, I was going to tell you to sleep less. But studies show we’re already a country of fat, sleep deprived zombies, soooo that’s probably not the best idea.

In Quitter, Jon Acuff brilliantly explains why you should roll out of bed early:

The excuses haven’t really woken up yet. They’re still snoring. . . If you wait until the night to work on your dream, you will often spend the whole day gathering up material for excuses on why you shouldn’t do what it is you feel called to do . . . The only excuse you have to deal with is being tired, but that one you can work through over time. Or forget working through it over time. Go to bed earlier.

Question Your Routine

From how you get to work to how you prepare meals to how you do your hair, critically think about how you can finish everyday tasks more quickly.

Here’s an example. For most of my life, I’ve taken long bubble baths.

About a year or so ago, I switched to showers. That saved me a few minutes, but the pressure of the hot water is so relaxing I linger in the shower longer than necessary.

Now, I shut off the water when I’m lathering up. Being naked in a chilly bathroom is uncomfortable, and I try to get the heck out of there as fast as possible.

Do the Most Important Work First

That moment when you have so much shit to do – that you decide to take a nap instead

Begin your day with the highest priority tasks. If you don’t finish every item on your to-do list, the fallout is less severe.

I know procrastination is hard to avoid, so try not to stress if you put off the most agonizing assignments. Just stay productive. Meaning, don’t use the time you should be performing market research to catch up on past episodes of Modern Family.

Instead of goofing off, clean out your refrigerator, read a non-fiction book, or tackle any other item on your to-do list that’s more fun. At least you’ll get something done.

Know When to Outsource

Use the money earned from your day job to buy time. Free up parts of your day by outsourcing household chores and other time consuming activities.

Start with the little things. Instead of hiring a maid to clean your house once a week, how about paying someone to wash and fold your laundry?

You could shop for groceries online, and pick them up when they’re ready. I know it’s not a national supermarket, but Harris Teeter charges less than $5 to do your grocery shopping for you. If you don’t have a Harris Teeter in your neighborhood, check to see if local grocers offer a similar service.

Although many frugalites tout the savings that come along with shunning pre-cut foods, e.g., shredded cheese, broccoli florets, the time you save in food prep may be worth the investment.

The number of hours in a day are fixed. There’s nothing you can do to change that, so don’t waste time complaining about how busy you are. If starting a side business is important to you, you’ll figure out how to fit one into your life.

Check out the complementary video to this blog post at It Is Possible to Save Both Time and Money

What time management tactics do you use?
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

addvodka June 11, 2012 at 9:37 AM

I am certainly not an entrepreneur but I use these tactics to tackle blogging. I wake up early, outsource a few things (techy stuff, carnival submissions) and do what I think is the most important work first.

These are all great tips!
My recent post Young People &amp; Saving For Retirement

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Shawanda June 11, 2012 at 1:04 PM

I was about to transcribe some videos I posted to YouTube, and then I was like, let me see if someone on Odesk can do this for me. It's not that hard. We'll see how it turns out.
My recent post 5 Time Management Tips for the Employed Entrepreneur

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fugalportland June 11, 2012 at 12:24 PM

this is how I structure my days as a regular employee, too! It's the fear factor for me, more than time management. I always feel like I have enough time.
My recent post State of my Debts: June Check in

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Shawanda June 11, 2012 at 1:03 PM

It took me years to work through my fears. At some point, I'll publish the blog post I wrote well over a year ago that helped give me the confidence to quit my job.
My recent post 5 Time Management Tips for the Employed Entrepreneur

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The Empowered Dollar June 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Spot on. Especially doing the important work first. My challenge is knowing what the important work is (I'm good at convincing myself that tweaking my opt-in subscription box is "important").

Chris posted something similar today at the Art of Non-Conformity:
"Work on the important things every day. How do you know what the important things are? Easy. Make a list of the top 20 things you need to do. Then, cross off items #3 – 20, but make sure you complete items #1 and #2."
My recent post The Only Snack that Guarantees a Higher SAT Score and More Savings

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Shawanda June 11, 2012 at 6:36 PM

LOL! I visited your blog earlier today, and no lie, I was this close * * to asking you who designed your opt-in form.
My recent post 5 Time Management Tips for the Employed Entrepreneur

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Anthony Thompson June 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Time-management is my biggest challenge, but I will get it right. If I can just get passed the constant procrastination, I think I would feel a lot more comfortable and accomplished. In any case, all isn't lost. It's just a matter of keeping my mind right and organizing my life a little better.
My recent post Self Management – The Greatest Sales Books Ever Written

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Shawanda June 11, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Same here. Lately I've been trying to stay productive, even if I am procrastinating when it comes to getting the most important stuff done.
My recent post 5 Time Management Tips for the Employed Entrepreneur

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Ornella June 11, 2012 at 7:54 PM

This was on point. For me, I focus on the things that are important and will produce results. You talked about how people focus on emails. Most of the time taken up by responding to emails is not productive. Emails tend to give us "the busy work." And far too many people think they are doing something important and productive for their business when dealing with busy work.

So, most emails I respond when during the day when it requires the least amount of my creativity.
My recent post Tax refund, Bartenders, and Casinos Can Affect the Way You Spend Money

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Shawanda Greene June 15, 2012 at 4:16 PM

I’ll often put off replying to emails that only take about a minute of my time, but then I take up brain space worrying about whether I’ll forget to get back with the sender.

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shopping2saving June 11, 2012 at 11:27 PM

Love this post! I really needed this. I'm so scatter-brained right now because I am juggling way too much. I tend to get overwhelmed at work because I have so many different tasks to do and then you're having trouble prioritizing. Also, I get distracted with emails since my Outlook is always up at work. Maybe I should turn off notifications..but then I'll miss the important ones.

LOL at the picture with the kid sleeping. I've done that a ton of times hahaha.

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Shawanda June 15, 2012 at 4:12 PM

I tried turning my email off at work for a very brief moment. I let my time know that if they needed anything important to just call me. One of the staff accountants acted like it was the end of the world. I kept telling her, “Just call me, or better yet, walk over to my office!”
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Untemplater June 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM

I'm trying to get up earlier this week. It's hard because I'm not a morning person and I like getting 7.5-8 hours of sleep to feel fully rested. But in order for me to get up "early" during the week, my sleep is going to be closer to 6.5-7 hours. It doesn't sound like a lot but it's harder since I also stopped drinking caffeine!
My recent post How To Switch Careers: Real Life Advice To Help You Succeed

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Shawanda June 15, 2012 at 4:19 PM

When I wanted to get up earlier, I upped my caffeine dosage from one cup to two cups. It probably wasn’t the best way to handle things, but it works . . . a little bit.
Shawanda recently posted..Race to the Middle: Forget the Stars, Reach for the CloudsMy Profile

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Charlotte June 12, 2012 at 11:26 PM

It's hard to give up that sure thing…income. I'm trying to find time to blog and some days that's really hard. I have found that I like blogging and commenting better than just watching television every night.

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Shawanda June 15, 2012 at 4:21 PM

I knooooow. Blogging is hard. I find the writing process exhausting. When I’m tired, I’m just going to stop writing and work on something else blog related that doesn’t require as much creativity.
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