17 time management tips from top entrepreneurs

If you don’t have a good plan, you can’t manage your time effectively.

by YEC, published 03/25/2014
This article is written by Sujan Patel, internet marketer and entrepreneur. Patel has over 10 years of internet marketing experience and started the digital marketing agency Single Grain. Currently Patel is the CMO at Bridge U.S., a company that makes the complex immigration process easy and affordable. Below, you’ll find 17 great tips and quotes from other entrepreneurs on the important subject of time management. If you’ve been feeling like you aren’t getting enough done with the time you have, take a look at their advice and follow the tips that apply most to your current situation:

Planning your time effectively

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” — Stephen R. Covey
Time is a resource like any other. If you aren’t treating it like the investment it should be, start to think about budgeting your time in the same way you budget your cash.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” — Peter F. Drucker
Drucker’s quote is a classic and one that’s always worth revisiting. Until you’ve started managing your time, it’s hard to be effective at managing any of the other demands of your business.
“One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.” — Malcolm S. Forbes
We all have limited time. So use yours to do one thing well, rather than spending a little bit of time on the hundreds of other demands that might creep unnecessarily onto your to-do list.
“If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” — Steve Maraboli
If you don’t have a good plan, you can’t manage your time effectively. Set your top priorities — both on a daily- and long-term basis — and then focus on them alone.
“The best time to start was last year. Failing that, today will do.” — Chris Guillebeau
Stop thinking and start doing! Even if you can’t go back in time, you can start fresh with proper time management from where you are today.

Time management and entrepreneurship

“In entrepreneurship, there’s a time to persevere, then there’s a time you need to change course. Knowing what to do can be tricky. When something isn’t working, sometimes you need to wait longer for your efforts to come to fruition. But there are also times when things clearly aren’t working. Continuing to pursue those things only wastes your valuable time.” — Ross Hill
Putting a halt on a project can be heartbreaking — but wasting your time on things that aren’t going anywhere is even worse.
“As an entrepreneur, it’s important to remember the mark of a great leader is the ability to delegate. Just like a quarterback on a football field, there’s a lot riding on your ability to call plays and lead the team toward the goal line, but you aren’t going to get very far without blockers to clear the path and someone to throw the ball to down field.” — Brian Spero
Good entrepreneurs know how to delegate. You only have so many hours in a day, so don’t waste them on tasks that don’t require your direct involvement. Pass these on to others so that your focused work on your top priorities isn’t compromised.
“Relationships are critical to business success. Networking and schmoozing are key to forming relationships. But randomly connecting with thousands of strangers online won’t help one bit. Be focused about it. And remember: one real, reliable relationship in the real world is worth a thousand online connections.” — Steve Tobak
Just because something, like networking, is good, doesn’t mean it’s a universally good use of your time. Focus on using your time effectively and be careful not to let seemingly-positive activities take over time from higher priorities.

Long-term time management

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.” — Bill Gates
Take a long-term approach to time management. You might not be productive as you expect to be on short time frames, but in the long run, you’ll be amazed by the amount you can accomplish!
“Disciplined use of the time everybody else wastes can give you an edge. The now rich and famous writer of legal thrillers, Scott Turow, wrote his first novel using only his morning commutes into New York City on the train. All around him, others just killed the same time. For most people, these minutes don’t matter. But they can. So when you say to yourself “it’s only 10 minutes,” you miss the entire point of time.” — Dan Kennedy
Whenever possible, identify spaces of wasted time during your day. Transforming just a few of these opportunities into productive work blocks can make a major difference.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” — Alan Lakein
Planning is critically important if you want to be a long-term success. No matter what you’re working on, putting a plan in place will help you achieve today what you’d otherwise put off until tomorrow.
“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” — Oprah Winfrey
We all have access to a limited number of resources — whether that’s time, energy or money. Even if you can’t have everything at once, you can control how you allocate your resources in order to eventually bring about the results you desire.

Time management and focus

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” — Anthony Robbins
The more focused you can be in your work, the more successful you’ll become. Pair your time management initiatives with a laser-like focus and you’re guaranteed to achieve your dreams.
“It’s better to do the right thing slowly than the wrong thing quickly.” — Peter Turla
Building focus into your time management habits ensures you’re working on the right things. Don’t ever let yourself invest in the wrong things just to get more items crossed off your to-do list!

Productivity through time management

“The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity.” — Timothy Ferriss
True productivity isn’t measured by the amount of time you appear busy. If you aren’t doing things to move the needle on your company every day, you’re in desperate need of some time management changes.
“If you do the most important thing first, then you’ll never have a day when you didn’t get something important done.” — James Clear
One of the best ways to improve your productivity is to set a single “must do” task for each day. Get this task done first thing, and you’ll never find yourself feeling like your entire day has been a waste.
“Focus on your most productive time slot. Everybody has a timeslot in their day when they do their finest work. Ernest Hemingway wrote first thing in the morning. Barack Obama is a night owl. (He reportedly even outsources decisions on what to eat and wear.)” — Perry Marshall
We all have high and low energy cycles throughout the day. Get to know yours and use this data to match your most important activities to your most naturally productive periods. Want even more great tips from top entrepreneurs on the subject of time management? Check out the following resources I used to compile this list: If you have another tip or quote that’s been particularly inspiring to you, feel free to share it to help other entrepreneurs improve their time management skills.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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