As the saying goes, “time is money” – especially for new, budding startups. In order to maximize your two most precious resources, it’s essential that startup founders learn how to prioritize: that’s why both time and task management are so essential for startup growth and success.
In larger, well established companies, prioritization tends to be dictated by the situation: you’ll focus on putting out the eventual fire, but you’ll have knowledge of what this fire is and the type of fire extinguisher you’ll need to use.
On a brand new startup, though, everything’s fresh and unknown. This makes the prioritization process a tad more complex – you don’t know what the fires are and has no idea what kind of tools you might need to control the flames.
Many startups are powered by the excitement of the new business and startup founders are known for devoting every waking moment to their companies. Even though passion is a very powerful propeller for working long, unending shifts to get things done, it’ll eventually come to a point where every startup team needs to take a break and learn a thing or two about prioritization.
Challenges of Prioritization
Not knowing how to use your time correctly can result in tons of people running around, completely burnt out, without knowing what they need to do next. More importantly, you risk not only “wasting” your time with tasks that aren’t essentially urgent, but letting important ones slip by.
Every company has growth pains. Ranking their importance is the first step for successfully addressing them. Time management seems to be one of the biggest challenges for all entrepreneurs and figuring out how to do more in less time is the key to success.
Use our time and task prioritization advice to get your time management under control!
Time and Task Prioritization Tips
The first step is recognizing you are human and you’re not able of doing everything – therefore, you need to figure out what’s most important to be worked out first. This isn’t static and might vary from time to time but, in general, you’ll focus on those activities that generate more income or those with the most potential to do so.
This may mean you’ll focus mainly on product improvements and new features instead of on your day-to-day tasks. It may also mean you’ll respond to leads from those bigger prospects before getting back to smaller ones, or prioritizing proposals and needs according to your most established customers first.
On that note…
1. Know Yourself (and Your Business)
Different people and different companies have different rhythms – some of us are morning people while others don’t like to be bothered before noon. Some don’t get into their groove until the sun goes down. Regardless, determining your most productive moments and use them to work on the most crucial tasks for your business (such as brainstorming, writing proposals or meetings with investors). The same goes for those times your brain is still sluggish – use this time for tasks that don’t demand much of your intellectual capacities, such as updating your calendar, organizing files or checking your e-mail.
2. Identify Where You’re Wasting Time
Have you ever tried keeping a log of your activity for a certain period of time, such as one week or so? The results may surprise you – and maybe not in a good way.
Do you spend hours checking emails and sending off the same responses over and over again? Try creating templates to use in different phases of your processes (Pipefy offers you a way to do so, with email templates).
3. Focus First on what Drives Growth
A better way to think of the prioritization process is not thinking about specific tasks, but in broader terms. What are the principal things you need to do that will drive growth? You have to focus your efforts on understanding the key factors that drive your business and anything that doesn’t influence those factors doesn’t need to be treated as a high priority.
4. Do the Hardest Things First
Humans tend to put off their most difficult tasks, out of dread, not laziness. Whatever you don’t feel like doing, do it first and take it off your plate. Prioritizing the hardest things to do eliminates the endless nagging dread that will drain away the energy you could be using for other tasks. Don’t postpone the inevitable, do it first and get rid of it. Rip it off like a Band-Aid!
5. Technology is Your Friend
Of course, technology can be an enemy to your productivity if you’re not using it right, but it can also be a valuable asset in simplifying and streamlining your processes.
Use cloud solutions such as Dropbox or Google Drive to store your data and synchronize information and calendars. Use online process and project online management tools to simplify and help you always stay on top of what everyone in your team is doing without having to search for information in several apps.
Cut out those apps and tools that just aren’t working out. Don’t get emotionally attached! If something’s getting in the way of your productivity, let it go.
6. Learn to Delegate
The emotional attachment rule we pointed out with the apps goes for tasks – learning to let go of your tasks and delegating them can be quite hard. Even if you’re willing to delegate, though, sometimes you won’t have anyone to delegate to, depending on how small your workforce is.
But if you’re fortunate enough to have some employees, third part contractors or even friends and family who are willing to donate some of their time, sit down and take some time to assess what you could possibly get other people to do for you. Letting go of some of your work can free up your creativity and energy.
Prioritization pressure is something that’s never going to go away. Whenever things are going well and everything seems to be under control, another fire can be on the way. If you think you have everything effortlessly under control, that might also be a problem. It might mean that your team is only doing what’s urgent, not what’s really important for your business.
Prioritize your tasks with Pipefy!
Pipefy’s Task Management Template was specially developed to help you manage yours and your team’s tasks without breaking a sweat.
This template shows you what everyone is currently working on, what they have to start working on and what they have completed. It also highlights priority tasks, what’s on time, what’s late and what is creating bottlenecks.