Time is of the essence, especially for start-ups.

There is never enough time. As a start-up, this is even more true. All businesses, but especially start-ups, experience growing pains. The development, performance and the brand of the project is based on how effective founders and staff react to time management issue.

While some issues can be out of the company’s control, some growing pains can be mitigated. The most important thing that a business can do is to learn from mistakes quickly and adapt accordingly to ensure that they do not happen again. I am going to share three simple but effective time management tips that have helped us on our start-up journey.

  1. Set a deadline for every task.

Tasks and goals without deadlines are just wishes and dreams. Hence why my most crucial calendar management method is to automatically create deadlines for every task. A deadline can impose a sense of reality and urgency to your goals. For example, setting a goal to “lose 3 kg” is vague and lacks a deadline, so you don’t have any idea how long this goal will take or how you will go about doing it. On the contrary, setting a goal to “go jogging at 7am twice per week” is clear in both deadline and method.

Take the same approach with your work. Give yourself a deadline for everything and try your best to stick to it. If things come up that force you to miss your deadline, set yourself a new and reasonable deadline as soon as possible. Letting some tasks be overdue for few months is just as bad as not giving it a date in the first place, but the major problem with ignoring an overdue task is that it wastes your mental space.

Lastly, some people just setup reminders on their phone or schedule to-do lists into their calendars. Whatever way works for you, just make sure to give everything a deadline.

  1. Know how to say no.

The biggest problem that many tech start-ups face is the inability to keep the scope of project limited and focused. Research shows that most people will say ‘yes’ to a request simply because they think saying ‘no’ makes people feel uncomfortable. Saying ‘yes’ to every new idea that pops into your head can lead to a product that never ends up launching. Even worse, the sudden addition of new features without an extended timeline often introduces technical debt that can make the product increasingly expensive to maintain over time. Meanwhile, these features may make the product more difficult for customers to use or require additional training for sales or support personnel.

Imagine, if a general office clerk must deal with over 50 emails per day, then the cost of saying ‘yes’ to all queries can be extremely high and time consuming. However, this overhead is even greater for start-ups as many are bootstrapping and putting out fires with limited resources in the initial stages. Successful entrepreneurs realize the importance of ignoring distractions and stay focus on their goals by saying ‘no’ to almost everything that comes across their desks.

The best way to say ‘no’ to new features is to first commit to a focused MVP (minimum viable product) that contains the fewest number of features to meet a specific customer’s needs. After the MVP is proven, each new feature should be vetted through experimentation rather than developed at the request of a handful of customers.

  1. Delegate tasks early and often

Most start-ups begin as small teams with one or two people who ‘founded’ the idea, and it’s typical for everyone to work long hours and with wide range of scope. This can lead to what’s known as the self-enhancing bias. The more self-involved you are in the product development process, the more highly you evaluate it. It becomes difficult to delegate responsibilities when you feel that others care or understand less than you do about the product. Of course, recruiting the right people helps, but it can still be very difficult to let go of control, even for small things.

The best way to begin delegating is to select minor things that have a minimal self-enhancing bias. For example, if you’re a founder, you may consider delegating routine tasks, such as scheduling meetings and updating contact lists to a virtual assistant. These services are often relatively inexpensive and can free up a lot of time to focus on higher-value and important tasks, like product development. Moreover, other tasks like customer support can also easily be outsourced.

As a workplace and life companion, PlannerScape has a mission to help users be productive and provide better time management solution. We have launched our MVP and our team is working hard to iterate it. To see the future of work for yourself, please contact us to arrange a private demo.

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