The 7 most important time management tips for entrepreneurs and self-employed

Rinkel collega Janine
Janine Wilbrink
update: 18 March 2021

There are 24 hours in a day. And with those 24 hours, we just have to make do. Sounds simple, right? As entrepreneurs at heart, we know that reality is a lot more complex. If your business is your passion, you quickly put a lot of time into this. And that's a good thing! But what if it could be done more efficiently and smarter? Allowing you to achieve more in the same amount of time?

There are various trainings and courses that teach you how to manage your time as smartly as possible. But as an entrepreneur, you already have so little time. So where do you even find the time for an education or course?  

That's why we wrote this blog. With our 7 best tips & tricks on how to manage your time as efficiently as possible. Simply, in a few minutes read instead of whole days of training. So are you also an entrepreneur and want to manage your time as efficiently as possible to achieve more in a day? Then read on!

Een persoon op zijn of haar laptop met horloge om

How do you make the most efficient use of your time as an entrepreneur?

Every entrepreneur wants to achieve more in less time. Because that paves the way for other things, for example, innovating, improving or: free time. Because even entrepreneurs should not forget to take some free time sometimes. Even if it's just a few hours.

The time you spend on your business should be as efficient as possible. Regardless of whether it's 10 hours a week or 10 hours a day. That is why we have listed 7 tips for you to give your time management a big boost. 

#1: Start with a plan

A good start is half the battle! And so it is. That is why it is so important to start your day with a plan. And it doesn't even have to be very concrete or elaborate. Even if you scribble down 3 sentences on a sticky note, your iPad or - like me - in your erasable notebook.

The point here is to decide in advance what you want to focus on, so that when distracted you can easily pull yourself back to what is important today. Handy though: if you work this out very specifically and step by step, don't forget to include breaks, run-outs and unexpected things. Otherwise, at the end of the day, you will find that you cannot achieve your goal, which can be demotivating. 

#2: 'Focus time'

These days, you see this coming up more and more often in, for example, your Outlook calendar. So it is highly encouraged to schedule focus time.

What does focus time entail? It's actually quite simple. You block out an hour or two where no one should (and can!) disturb you. If you work from home, this is easy. You turn off your Microsoft Teams or Slack (or on silent) so you don't get notifications from those. Turn off your e-mail and put your phone aside. Turn on some music and bang!

When you are at the office, this is a bit more difficult. It is always easier to be disturbed by colleagues. It is therefore important to discuss this with your colleagues. Think of a closed door arrangement, or a 'headphone arrangement', to put it that way. If the door is closed, or if you have your headphones on, it means you don't want to be disturbed. This way, you can also throttle up in the office.

Don't have the possibility to completely isolate and focus at home? Then stick a note on the back of your office chair, for example, go to the office for the day or hang a note on your locked door.

#3: Learn to take breaks

You might be thinking: how does this affect how efficiently I manage my time? After all, taking a break doesn't sound like a very efficient way to get more done in a day. But, you know what they say: nothing could be further from the truth.

Humans are not made to work for 8 hours (or more) at a stretch. We can't and shouldn't want to be able to do that. Even if you focus with the best intention for a longer period of time (read: 3 hours, for example) you will find that after a certain amount of time you really start to feel tired. 

We have occasional breaks after which we are rested and can get back to work faster and better. Your productivity (and therefore efficiency) will only increase if you take a number of breaks throughout the day.

Man houdt zijn haldpalm op waar een zandloper op staat

You also have a number of techniques for this, to take breaks in an efficient and coordinated way and still remain productive. Consider, for example:

  • The Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break. And so on. To help you with this, there are apps on your phone and, for example, in your browser, such as with Google Chrome. A virtual pomodoro timer; very handy!
  • The Flowtime technique: Similar to the Pomodoro technique, yet different. Some people prefer to focus on work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. That's what the Flowtime technique is for.

In other words: find out what your perfect focus curve is and act on it. There's no point in continuing to work if you can't focus. Then, simply little or nothing gets done. After your break, you'll have energy for 10 again and you can bang on!

#4: Don't procrastinate

Because: procrastination breeds procrastination! Okay, half. It is often true, but there is also another reason. 

If you put off something you don't feel like doing or dread doing, it holds you back. This is because there is that little voice in your head that sometimes thinks ahead and reminds you, which causes you to become less productive in that moment. Because you know you are deliberately procrastinating. 

It's better to do what you are dreading right in the morning, so you just get rid of it. This makes you feel relieved and proud that you just got it done right away, which also gives you more energy for the rest of the day. Plus, it gives you a sense of calm which allows you to focus on the next task!

Kopje koffie op een volle agenda

#5: Use time management or project management tools

"So many things to do in so little time!" - said every entrepreneur once. Fortunately, you don't have to do it without help. In fact, there are plenty of handy programmes available to download for free(!). We are happy to give you our recommendations! They all work pretty much the same, so it depends on your preference: 

These programmes are designed for teams to work together, but are also ideal for freelancers. Create lists with 'To do', 'In progress' and 'Done' to start with and fill it with tickets. This way, you know exactly what you still have to do and what you are working on. Ideal for not losing track.

Wouldn't you rather have software? Then you still have the 'golden oldie' project management tool: the old familiar scrap sheet where you can tick off all sorts of things. That always feels really good and works ideally for many people. After all, achieving something always feels good.

#6: Realise when you are most productive

Every entrepreneur and self-employed person is different. We all prefer to work in our own way, in our own time. Some may prefer to start at 6:00 am, others only after 4:00 pm. Our natural clock determines this.

So find out for yourself when you feel fittest and act accordingly. You will find that you feel more comfortable in your work and work more productively. That way, you will spend your most productive hours on your business and be nice and busy. So you can also take it easy during your less productive hours: like making phone calls or collecting data. Something you need your head less for!

You will find that good time planning, even in this way, contributes to extra efficiency. After all, as an entrepreneur or self-employed person, you are in charge of your own schedule. So make use of this.

#7: Set your opening hours

At Rinkel, we also think it's important that you can run your business as efficiently as possible and get the most out of it! Therefore, we have developed something very handy: the opening hours function. 

With the opening hours function within My Rinkel, you set when you are open and when you are closed. For example, you can set that, when you are closed, all your calls go to voicemail, or are answered by the answering service.

Do you have a standard part of the day (or a few hours) where you are focused and don't want to be disturbed? You can easily set that too. For example, you can choose to put a colleague on hold, so that your colleague is the only one to take calls during that period.

Read more about Rinkel's opening hours feature.

Practice makes perfect

After all these tips, there is only one conclusion we can draw. Because there is no standard way that works for everyone. You work in your own way. So try out these different tips and see what works (or doesn't work) for you. But don't give up too soon, because changing your way of working takes time and effort. In other words: practice makes perfect.

Besides the opening hours function, we at Rinkel have other functionalities that make your life as an entrepreneur easier. Want to know more? Discover all our features.