I often hear first-time entrepreneurs fret about structuring their workdays and organizing their work.
If they came from the corporate world, their employers had already structured their work. These entrepreneurs talk about being shocked by the chaos of starting a business. It is even more challenging for entrepreneurs who have never had a full-time job. Those fresh out-of-college entrepreneurs talk about feeling lost, lonely, and overwhelmed.
If you are a first-time entrepreneur, take a breath! There are many resources to help you organize your business and your job as founder and CEO.
Entrepreneurs often use the excuse of, “I’m an entrepreneur. It’s not my nature to be organized.”
Without organization, your productivity suffers. Without productivity, your company’s performance suffers. Without company performance, your bank account suffers.
Peter Strack, Founder & CEO of The Strack Group, argues that organization is a habit, not a character trait. Stack recommends creating a habit of being organized by addressing all aspects of your everyday work. Map out your week, manage your days with to-do lists, and organize your digital work life, including emails, files, and passwords. It may take practice, but with a persistent and dedicated approach to work, even the most disorganized entrepreneur can control the chaos of a startup.
Neil Patel recommends batching your tasks into everyday activities to aid in productivity. He also says that the most successful, organized entrepreneurs focus only on the tasks that actually move their businesses ahead. Many entrepreneurs spend hours on things their business will not need for a long time or may never need. Your job in a startup is to find your market and ensure you give them what they want. Period. If you can’t build sales, nothing else matters!
Your calendar is a critical tool to help you get more organized. Jeanne Rossomme recommends finding a calendar tool that enables you to structure your time and organize your workflow. Here is a review of many popular calendar apps that work well for entrepreneurs. I am an Apple guy. My calendar of choice is BusyCal. It integrates my to-do list into my calendar and allows me to manage it across all my Apple devices. Ultimately, it is a personal choice as to which app works best. Don’t just look at the free options; spending a few dollars a month is worth getting a system that works well for you.
The Need for Speed
“Startups invariably face competitive pressures from both incumbents as well as other startups. To get ahead, they have to continuously crank up their speed of decision making, product development, distribution and iteration.”
Many startups have a narrow window of time to launch and establish market share. This adds even more urgency to the need to get organized and productive.
It’s All About Time
“Whenever I felt anxious, overwhelmed, or became eager to procrastinate, I’d pick up my phone and scroll through social media. When I took inventory on how I spent my time during the day, I realized I was spending 90 minutes of my workday wasting time on social media.”
Glantz says she puts her phone out of reach during work time and only brings it out three to four times a day during the fifteen-minute breaks she builds into her day. She also has scheduled time during the day to read and reply to emails and limits each time to about twenty minutes.
“I like to have a start and end to my workday. I wake up, and before I start work and I journal. I have my coffee, read my Bible, and walk outside to get some sunlight before I’m in my apartment all day. And then, towards the end of the day, I’m ready to turn it off. I know a lot of entrepreneurs like work late into the night. I’m done by 5 or 6 p.m. Even though I love what I do, I’m ready to have my night routine and read, watch TV, talk to friends, or whatever. I’m trying to build those boundaries.” (“Hannah Rodriguez” from Entrepreneurial Voices)
Find Well Organized Mentors
Entrepreneurs always benefit from hanging out with other entrepreneurs. They provide both practical advice and moral support for each other. They also help mentor each other.
But be careful who you hang out with. Good habits and bad habits can picked up from your peers. I would make sure to hang out with some entrepreneurs who are already well organized and manage their time effectively. They can serve as role models as you build your business and offer a wealth of handy tips to help organize the chaos of your life as an entrepreneur.