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Effective Time Management Techniques for Entrepreneurs

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Effective Time Management Techniques for Entrepreneurs

Time is one of the most precious commodities for any entrepreneur. You might find yourself buried under endless to-do lists and juggling an array of tasks on a daily basis, which sometimes only leads to overexertion and hampers progress. But what if we told you that time doesn’t have to be the enemy but an ally to your success?

This article will unveil the tactics employed by successful entrepreneurs across the globe. Why not take a page from their book?

Modified Pomodoro Technique

My most effective time management technique is a modified version of the Pomodoro technique. I spend an hour on one task, and no matter where I’m at after that hour with the task, I take a 15-minute break to step away from my work and clear my mind. Once that break is up, I work for another hour straight. This helps me reduce any stress or feeling of being overwhelmed throughout the day. It completely eliminates the sense of urgency I used to feel.

Dustin Sitar, CEO of The Groom Club

Kanban Boards

I use Kanban boards to create a visual of my entire to-do list so I can better manage my time. Having all my tasks laid out in blocks helps me plan my daily schedule accordingly. I can even include notes with estimates of how long it should take me to complete each task. That way, I can curate my schedule to ensure I have ample time available to tackle my responsibilities. Besides this, I love using Kanban boards because I can move tasks around as I complete them, so it feels far more rewarding as I clear my plate.

Michael Nemeroff, co-founder & CEO of Rush Order Tees

Setting Clear Boundaries

I can’t manage my time if I don’t set clear boundaries. While there are more than enough crises, both business and personal, in my average day, I know that I can get a lot more done if I take them one at a time. My friends and family all know that I can only be reached in emergencies during working hours. They also know that I never take my work home with me, and only a true work emergency will have me working after hours. This compartmentalization does a lot to help me focus, be fully present, and get things done.

Ann Martin, director of operations of CreditDonkey

Having Fewer Meetings

I’ve cut down on the number of meetings I schedule per day. Just one meeting can occupy up to hours of my time, depending on the complexity. I could cover multiple tasks within that time. As a result, I’ve resolved to limit my meeting schedules so that I can free up more time to focus on other aspects of running an agency. 

This technique is helping me reclaim my work-life balance.

David Gaglione, founding partner of PS212

Calendar Management

As a long-time entrepreneur, my key strategy to staying organized with my time is my calendar! I put everything in my calendar: appointments, phone calls, time blocking for important tasks, family time, and even lunch. If I need two hours to complete a task, then I will put that in my calendar so I don’t get scheduled to do something else and unintentionally overload myself. Scheduling family time in my calendar is just as important; it ensures I have a healthy work-life balance that allows time for work to be completed and quality time with family.

But the most important part is not just using a calendar. It’s sticking to it! If I put something in my calendar, then I am going to do it. Having a tool and using it is the key to using your time effectively!

Matt Biren, founding attorney of Biren Law Group

Creating Realistic Daily Plans

Managing time effectively has always come down to creating a realistic plan that I can stick to on a daily basis. Over the years, I’ve learned to spend thirty minutes at the end of each workday planning my top three tasks for the next day, as well as allocating a realistic time slot for each of them. Simply writing down my top three tasks won’t ensure they get done without knowing when I will actually focus on them during the day. In addition to daily planning for the next day, I also spend an hour on the weekend making a list of non-urgent administrative tasks that I’d like to get done in the upcoming week if my top tasks take less time than planned.

Laura Spawn, owner of LeDetailWP.com

Delegating Tasks

The number one thing I do to manage my time effectively is delegate. The night before every day, I have a plan of what I need to get done with a list of tasks prioritized. If there’s anything that doesn’t require me to do personally, I delegate somebody else to take care of it, and I have that in my plan from the night before. So many executives I know have forgotten how to delegate because they want things done their way. I’m not partial to any particular way of things getting done as long as they get done.

Dustin Lemick, CEO of BriteCo


As a busy entrepreneur, I pretty much always have something I can do or optimize, which is why I choose to schedule my breaks in advance and optimize my work/life balance while essentially setting a soft deadline for the tasks I’m working on. 

My usual routine is to set three to four time blocks each day where I take a break, rest, and get my mind off work. This helps me get my work done faster and manage my time and allocation to each task throughout the week.

Max Wesman, Founder & COO at GoodHire

Using ChatGPT to Prioritize Tasks

Whenever I feel overloaded with work, I quickly type out a list of my to-do’s and share it on ChatGPT, asking it to prioritize. 

I use a prompt like “You’re a time management expert and productivity coach. I need help with prioritizing my workload. Here’s a list of my tasks for the next two weeks, including their importance and urgency. Can you analyze this and suggest an order of completion that optimizes my productivity and ensures I meet all critical deadlines?”

(I listed a few more here)

I then get back a suggested priority order, from where I can give more inputs and discuss further with GPT until I feel clear on what to tackle next. This removes a lot of workload unease and truly clears my head.

Daan van Rossum, CEO of FlexOS

Taking Notes on iPhone

As an author, podcast host, speaker, executive leader, and mother of two, time management is a crucial skill. One resource I have used to help me juggle it all is the Notes app on my iPhone. 

From those spur-of-the-moment ideas while sitting at a stop light, podcast episode ideas as a result of attending a meeting, or even middle-of-the-night thoughts — being able to have a place that is quickly accessible and keeps everything in one space is helpful in my being able to have a clear head, stay on top of tasks and ideas, and follow through on projects and to-dos. 

Added benefits of the notes app include:

  • Category tabs — I’m easily able to go back and create category tabs (ie, podcast episode ideas, speaking topics, to-do lists, etc.)
  • Free — This is a free tool on any iPhone and, therefore, helps me be a good steward of my business
  • Scan documents — It has the ability to scan notes, documents, photos, and more. This feature saves time and is user-friendly
  • Sharing capabilities — The notes section easily lets me share various notes with colleagues, friends, and family, which helps save time and provides clarity in communication. 

Holly Curby, podcast host, public speaker & author of Face-Lift: Embracing Hope Through Your Heartaches (Facebook, Instagram)

Getting Assessed for ADHD

You can find our history online but what our history doesn’t mention is that I have had difficulties with time management, yet we’ve been able to grow the business by leaps and bounds.  

My number one tip is to be evaluated by a specialist to see if you have the telltale signs of ADHD. In my case, I was finding myself jumping from task to task and really not staying on point or completing what needed to be done. I always felt like I was busy and productive, but nothing ever really materialized. After seeing a specialist, it was pretty clear that I displayed all the signs of someone with ADHD. It was like a light going off in my head, and made me realize that I had to pay extra attention to ensure I wasn’t bogged down.

James Koskela, owner & founder of Zero Day Gear

Effective Preparation

Before meetings — either external or internal — I make sure all of my anticipated questions are ready, and an agenda is set (even if this takes the shape of my own mental running list or a formal version, I always know what needs to be taken care of).

This means I show up prepared for a focused conversation and can expect a productive meeting. It also allows flexibility for bonus questions and conversations to flow because the meeting’s fundamental requirements are taken care of at the outset. Meetings are essential in business, but how we show up to them can help recapture time that then can be allocated to other business goals. It’s all in the preparation.

Keith Carpentier, founder & CEO of Qbuster Technologies

80/20 Rule

The time management technique that works best for me as is a slightly modified Pareto Principle Technique (or 80/20 rule). 

This means that I start my day working on the most difficult and pressing issue first, which can take up to 80% of my available working hours, while it usually only represents 20% of my to-do’s for the day.

Every time management technique has to be individually adjusted and modified to fit your characteristics, as we all vary in terms of focus span, time of the day we can focus best, type of work that feels easy or difficult, etc.

Since I can concentrate best in the morning, right after my daily stretches and cup of coffee, I try to tackle the most difficult task at that time of the day.

Once that is completed, I might still have 80% of tasks open but it will take only 20% of my time as those tasks are generally very different and merely require me to be organized rather than deeply concentrated (those are often administrative tasks). 

One more tip: If I find myself with more time while I have finished all the work I planned to do for the day, I push myself to start with the next day’s most difficult task. Even if I just start it for 10 minutes before I stop for the day, it makes it so much easier to continue the following day and reduces mental discipline and stress significantly.

Mathilde Schmidt, CEO of Office Group Zug

Balance Blocks

As a 4x entrepreneur, my go-to technique for time management is to use what I call “balance blocks.” Identify at least one hour/day as a balance block to rebalance your day. As a morning person, I schedule a two-hour balance block in the afternoon when I feel like least productive. I spend this time balancing my day, which can include a 15-minute walk, grabbing a coffee at a cafe for a few minutes, and then crossing things off my to-do list and catching up on email for the day. I’ve done this for at least 10 years and rely on it every day.

Adriana L. Cowdin, master executive coach & CEO of Be Bold Coaching

Pomodoro + Eat the Frog

I’ve found that a combination of the Pomodoro and the Eat the Frog technique works best for me. I give myself an allotted amount of time to complete the tasks for the day, but I prioritize them, starting with the most important task first. It helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks each day and keeps me on task.

Daivat Dholakia, VP of operations at Essenvia

“Top 5” Technique

I learnt a technique called “TOP 5,” meaning at the end of the day, you would need to have five credible tasks/deals/objectives complete. These should never be insignificant tasks so you can coast throughout the day, but instead significant progress on your wider goals. Having set your mind to complete five tasks a day, you naturally stop spending more time on tasks that don’t need it, and naturally, your mindset shifts into priority mode. Dwelling, over-thinking and spending too much time on anything is not good. I tend to keep meetings and tasks to 45 minutes — it allows me to give my full concentration.

Lazar Vukovic, Business Entrepreneur

Accomplished Task List

The best thing I’ve done is stop thinking about my to-do list as a task list; rather, it is an accomplishment list.

Ed Brzychcy, president of Lead from the Front

Setting up Screen Time Reports and App Usage Limits

A tool I use to help with time management is the screen time report built in my phone and computer. Being able to see how much time is spent on social, YouTube, group chat, etc., quickly put into perspective that I have plenty of time; it’s just being wasted. 

Before I could manage my time wisely, I needed to know exactly how I was spending my time so I could put measures in place to help myself. 

Setting up app usage limits and work-hour website blockers is a great idea for those who struggle with discipline.

Julian Hooks, owner & principal consultant of Advertising Commissions LLC 

Creating Task Lists for the Next Day

While it’s a very basic technique, it’s still my tried and true method for managing my time most effectively. At the end of each day, I make a list of tasks that need to be completed the following day. It usually takes around five minutes or so, and I can start to get a handle on how long each task is going to take me. I generally budget a little extra time, but if I’m under a deadline, I might keep the time allotted to each task as low as possible just to help me stay focused and on task. I come into the office each morning prepared for what’s ahead of me that day, which helps keep me focused. 

Dan Gallagher, VP of operations at Aegle Nutrition

Bullet Journaling

The best thing that works for me is bullet journaling. The pen-and-paper method felt nearly prehistoric with all the tech tools at my fingertips, but grounding my virtual calendar, in reality, has been an enormous help and pairs well with my favorite tech. I think there’s a real satisfaction in using a physical tool that we don’t feel often anymore. Ryder Carroll invented this simple system to keep track of your life on a gridded dot journal that can flex to whatever use you need. 

When I started using my bullet journal to track my time and note disruptions, it got so much easier to see the positive and negative patterns in my workflows. Seeing those visual blocks marked in my journal helps me design the time blocks in my days to better meet the best times for focus and manage those that tend to come with distractions. At the end of the day, week, and month, it’s incredibly satisfying and motivating to see how much productive time I’ve spent working towards my goals!

James DeLapa, director of digital marketing at Wrike

Rock & Jar Analogy

I put the big rocks into the jar first. In the rock analogy, a jar can be “full” when filled to the brim with big rocks, but more space is found by filling in the gaps with smaller pebbles, sand, and finally, water. 

So, every morning, I first put the big rocks or the most urgent tasks into my day. Then, I look for spaces I can fill with pebbles, sand, and water — the smaller tasks I have time to work on without compromising my biggest priorities. If you’re someone who struggles with time management concepts, visualizing that time with the rock method is very helpful.

David Ciccarelli, CEO of Lake

Setting a Timer

I’m a freelance writer, blogger, and master’s student. Juggling all three isn’t easy, but I’ve adopted one trick for time management that has made all the difference — setting a timer. 

When I can’t focus at all? I set a timer for 20 minutes and tell myself, “No clicking away to another tab, checking your phone, making coffee, or going to the bathroom for 20 minutes. After that, you can have a break.” Why it works? Because 20 minutes is a small, manageable amount, it feels doable when you’re attention is all over the place. Plus, by the time the 20-minute timer dings, nine times out of 10, I’ve managed to get into the flow, and I can happily work without distraction for at least an hour.

Meredith Shubel, blogger & owner of A Merry Loner

Capacity Creator Power Hour

I intentionally make time, at least one day a week (usually a Saturday morning), to do what I call the capacity creator power hour. This is where you literally brain-dump all the things you think you need to do across your personal and professional life based on the “hats” you wear at home, work, with family, etc. 

First, you choose your categories or “hats,” such as mom, wife, business owner, employee, money manager, etc., and you set a time to brain-dump for 15 minutes across all categories. 

Next, you take 15 minutes to prioritize what you’ve brain-dumped into two categories: essential (absolutely necessary; required) vs. important (significant but not required). Keep in mind you should focus on the next seven days ahead only. That way, you aren’t overwhelming yourself out of the gate, and you’ll be able to narrow down that ever-running to-do list in your head! Once you have your essential list, you take 30 minutes to LITERALLY put the priorities on your calendar based on your capacity and what you can realistically get done. Make sure you include planning for both the week and weekend.

Nicole Rhone, HR professional & capacity coach

Strategic Reward System

Remember that the amount of time and effort you put towards something isn’t always directly proportional to the quality of the results you get back. You could be putting in 12–14 hour days towards your business, but if you’re tired and unfocused, your output will inevitably reflect that. You will either make mistakes or take longer to finish something; either way, you’re not managing your time well at all. 

To help manage your time better and motivate yourself, try this: Write down a to-do list and choose specific points on this task list where you will reward yourself. So, for instance, if you have a list of 30 tasks, say you will stop at the 10th and 21st. Once you get to these points, reward yourself. You can take a quick nap, make a snack, or spend time with family or friends. What you’re doing is giving yourself a tangible reason to keep on going, and it will go a long way towards motivating you to get more done.

Gianluca Ferruggia, managing director of DesignRush

Four D’s

The 4 D’s is an easy way to sort stuff I have to do into four buckets: Do, Defer, Delegate, or Delete. It makes figuring out what’s urgent versus what can wait simple. This system beats Eisenhower’s method ’cause it’s much simpler.

Splitting things into need to do now, do later, give to someone else, or scrap saves me time from overthinking. Instead of scratching my head about what should get top priority, the 4 D’s immediately tell me. That sharp focus means I nail the big projects. And since it works on all kinds of tasks — emails, calls, paperwork, and more — I stay on track day after day.

Mervyn O’Callaghan, co-founder & CEO of CameraMatics

Eisenhower Matrix

My go-to technique for effective time management is prioritization through the Eisenhower Matrix. There are days when it’s really hard to distinguish between tasks that are urgent and important, as I want to focus on what truly drives progress. Each morning, I categorize my tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. What for? Well, to invest my time in tasks that truly contribute to our strategic goals. It’s also important to me to delegate or delay less critical tasks. It’s simple, I know, but still, that keeps me and my team focused on what matters most.

Kamil Bajołek, brand director at PRM

Proactive Week Scheduling

Schedule your week ahead of time. Take a few minutes on Sunday and fill out your priorities list into a checkable, visual schedule. Reflect on ongoing priorities and projected goals. No item is too small if it helps you make progress. Don’t forget to make sure to add things that keep you running at top speed, like exercise, family time, and therapy.

Frank Thewes, trauma therapist at Path Forward Therapy

Striking When You Are at Your Best

Continuously monitor your thoughts/feelings.

What are you thinking about right this second? Is this worth changing what you are doing right now? I just did this myself and changed gears. I was doing a mindfulness activity but noticed I was thinking about work. I stopped the mindfulness exercise and wrote a proposal.

What and how are you feeling currently? I checked in, and felt excited — a great opportunity to contribute to others. In contrast, when I feel tired/down, I only reach out in the necessary cases and practice more active listening than adding to the topic.

To me, this is the most effective time management technique — striking when you are at your best.

Hanne Wulp, leadership trainer & executive coach at Communication Wise

Hiring a Virtual Executive Assistant

My go-to technique for time management is a virtual executive assistant. My EA responds to 90% of my emails, manages all of my calendars, reviews scans of our business mail and takes needed actions, does transaction coordination, follows up on tasks for which we need a response, and completes most of the day-to-day tasks that come across my email inbox.

He’s the first point of contact for 90% of the tasks that come across my desk, which frees up my time to focus on the business, not doing the tasks of the business. If I had to respond to all the emails and schedule meetings, I probably wouldn’t see my family. My EA is a lifesaver!

The keys to working with a virtual EA successfully are:

  1. Hire the right person -— You need to be crystal clear on what skills and attributes are essential for success and have a rigorous hiring, onboarding, training, and continuing education program to give the EA all the tools they will need to be successful
  2. Create work instructions — I record everything I do and how I do it with Loom or Zoom meetings. My EA then takes those recordings, creates instructions on how to do the tasks, and then he does them next time
  3. Provide consistent feedback — Your EA needs to hear from you when things are going well and not so well so they can learn and improve. Regularly monitor performance, set clear expectations and KPIs, and have regular (I recommend daily) meetings with your EA so you are in sync

Mathew Pezon, CEO of Pezon Properties


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Effective Time Management Techniques for Entrepreneurs