How To Manage Your Time As A
Startup Founder

A startup’s journey is made of excitement, anxiety, success, and sometimes failure.

Along the way, it’s important that those who carry the vision – the founders – keep a steady pace for everybody, on every step. Managing people and resources in a fast-paced startup environment it’s hard indeed. Startup founders have to be particularly careful about how they manage their time.

A few easy time management tips can help them keep the work on track, organize their day, and maintain their sanity.

Working in a fast-paced environment

Startups must move fast.

Developing a product or service from scratch requires a lot of effort. Startups typically work with small teams with an “all hands on deck” approach.

Although startups don’t exactly have a “client” that signed a contract with them, they may have time constraints due to launch dates, investors, competitions. In addition, markets move fast and a new competitive product might appear soon.

So it’s easy to understand why startup founders have to be extremely careful with their time.

If you have just started your business, it may seem to you that there’s never enough time in your day. You’ve probably heard stories about founders sleeping in their office (if they sleep at all). Founders burnout is real and can take a toll on the organization as a whole.

Time management is a challenge for founders who have to juggle many responsibilities, supervise others, and get their own work done.

5 easy time management tips for startup founders:

  1. Time block your schedule;
  2. Establish clear communication;
  3. Track your time;
  4. Don’t drown in email;
  5. Kill distractions.

#1 Time block your schedule

The time blocking technique consists, as the name suggests, in blocking some slots on your schedule and reserve them for the most important tasks.

It’s a popular technique used by busy people in every role to make sure that they can get their work done. And who is busier than startup founders?

So when you know you have to get to your own work, block some time for it on your schedule.

Tools to help you with this: Google Calendar offers simple ways to create events at specific times of the day. It also sends push notification reminders. In short, using a digital calendar to manage your time is a simple, cost-effective way to save time and be more organized.

#2 Establish clear communication

The chaos and excitement of building the business from scratch will necessarily bring communication challenges.

Usually, startups are small environments, where communication is as easy as walking a couple of steps to the other person’s desk.

But that is a mistake.

By relying on “spur-of-the-moment” messages, you’ll risk creating confusion for your team. And if you not a written track of communications, something may be forgotten along the way.

Email doesn’t help, either – it’s too clunky and your inbox will be probably too full already.

Tools that help with that: Slack provides an easy way for teams of any size to communicate with each other, as well as exchanging files and screenshots.

#3 Track your time

You cannot know if you’re been effective with your time if you don’t know how to spend it.

This is way time tracking should be a daily habit in every business.

Everybody in a startup should track their time, including – and especially – founders who have to juggle many responsibilities and have to carry the project to success.

Simply tracking time is not enough, though.

Founders should also analyze that time tracked to optimize work, find time and costs pitfalls, and improve the general productivity and health of the project.

Tools that help with that: Timeneye  combines time tracking and reporting not only to track your time but to see where it actually goes. Don’t forget to track your time when you’re traveling around to attend conferences and meet investors: luckily, Timeneye offers mobile apps, too.

Timeneye provides the data to analyze where the time goes.

4# Don’t drown in email

We mentioned in #2 how email is not the best internal communication tool.

Even if you get rid of it for communicating with employees, as a founder you’ll probably still face an email nightmare for yourself.

You’ll have to take care of events, investors, stakeholders, possible collaborations, contractors, and of course, spreading your idea around.

Email can make you lose a lot of your precious time, if you don’t manage it appropriately. And no, checking emails at 3:00 AM is not the solution.

When you start your workday and get rid of email right away, or at a definite time in your schedule (see #1).

Tools that can help: an extension like RightInbox will let you write your email at once, and then schedule them to be sent at the appropriate times. You’ll be able to get email out of the way and make sure they are delivered timely without you forgetting about it.

5# Kill distractions

Once the phone’s been silenced, the inbox is empty and you can finally get to work, make sure to keep away from any distraction. Sure it’s hard to resist the temptation of answering every single Twitter mention of your startup.

When you have to get things done, tune out distractions.

Tools that can help: there are white noise apps like Noisili designed to help with concentration. Or simply listening to music will help you focus and get into the productivity zone.

Bonus tip: don’t do it alone

A founder’s journey can be rewarding and exciting, but also hard, and sometimes lonely.

Sure you’ll share it with your employees, but there will be necessary steps and decisions that cannot involve them

Having a cofounder will help you ease the burden, delegate some choices, and keep you motivated while you go through your daily schedule.

Are you a startup founder? What are your tips (and tools) for managing time? Let us know in the comments! If you’re not sure you’re being effective with your time… start a 14-day Timeneye trial to find out.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

About Stefania

Project Manager at Timeneye. In her free time, she enjoys reading books and belting out tunes from Broadway musicals (although the neighbours don't seem to appreciate that).