The startup life – an exhilarating race to build the next groundbreaking product.
Startups teams are under a lot of pressure to beat competition. Standing out from the crowd comes with a lot of (not just monetary) costs.
In the fast-paced startup environments, being able to do great things with little time and resources is a skill that’s hard to learn.
Here are a few practical tips to teach startups how to make better use of their time.
Time is a limited, valuable resource. Every business, regardless of its size, should be very careful where they spend their time.
For startups, time is an even bigger issue, if you take into consideration that:
So you see, how crucial proper time management is for startups.
Rule number one of effective teams: keep everybody on the same page.
A shared team calendar can help everybody keep track of deadlines and project timelines. It’s important that the calendar is shared, not only for transparency reasons, but also to give managers and team leaders a bird’s eye view of everybody’s work.
There are many calendar apps out there, so teams will have lots of options to choose from.
Once you’ve set the calendar, make sure not to fill it with too many meetings.
When you’re in a startup with projects and timelines changing rapidly, teams may end up setting too many meetings in an effort to keep everything under control.
Meetings have been long known as a major time waster for teams – and startups are not an exception.
If you have to schedule weekly check-ins and meetings, make sure to keep them brief, with a clear agenda, and also: are you sure you can send an email instead?
Startups are usually small teams, where members wear multiple hats and hop from assignment to assignment. So it’s very easy to end up feeling overwhelmed and disorganized.
Automating small tasks – the ones which are performed regularly – is a way to free time on schedule and make sure people don’t have too much on their plates.
Some examples of the things you can automate are:
And many more!
With so little resources, a startup team cannot afford to waste time on meaningless tasks.
Having a clear system to set priorities can help free some time on the team member’s schedule.
By prioritizing the tasks carefully, teams will have a clear direction and will be able to spend time more efficiently.
Take the Eisenhower Matrix for prioritization:
Image source: Techtello.com
This is an excellent way of managing individual tasks, as well as team-wide priorities, by knowing clearly what tasks must be done immediately, and which can wait.
Ever heard of the Google 20% time policy?
Google has encouraged their employees to use 20% of their time on Google-related projects that they cared about. It’s meant to boost creativity and motivation.
When you’re in a startup, you’ll have to grind out features and products quickly, all while staying focused on your priorities (see above).
But that doesn’t mean startups shouldn’t dedicate some time to creativity and creation.
Team members will be more motivated, and avoid the risk of burning out if a little “creative time” is allowed in their busy schedules.
How do you optimize your time if you have no idea where you actually spend it?
I’ve talked so far about how important it is to prioritize and save time. But if you don’t actually track how the team spends their time, all the work is useless.
Startups need to record their time so they know if they’ve used it effectively.
Time tracking tools do exactly that: teams can use it to track time, see what projects take too much, and run reports to see if the time was used productively.
Image source: Timeneye
Time tracking tools don’t just show insights to the team on how they spend their time.
Time management software also provides lots of historic data on how much a certain project/product/feature took.
This data can be used for estimating and forecasting how much similar projects will take. This way, startups can further optimize their time as they grow.
And lastly, be careful about work-life balance.
Yes, the startup life is busy and fast-paced, however, overworking and burnout are serious issues affecting the startup work.
So don’t forget to set some time for creativity and self-care. Make sure to respect office hours and work/home boundaries.
After all, the purpose of good time management is to keep a balanced schedule that allows for work, creativity and also some fun.
Being part of a startup is as exciting as it is challenging. Time is a limited resource and startups must use it carefully since they have to choose carefully where to put their efforts.
Startups can save time by automating work, prioritizing tasks, knowing where their time goes, and optimizing their time, they can achieve much more in less time.