How to Prioritize as an Entrepreneur – For Personal and Business Success

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If you’ve ever been in the situation where you have lots of tasks you think should be done, but you can’t decide which you should do first, then you’ve experienced firsthand how challenging prioritization can be at times. When you start a business, it could add to the complexity of deciding which tasks to do and the order you should do them. In this article, we’ll be discussing how to prioritize as an entrepreneur.

There are Lots of Possible Tasks to Do When Starting an Online Business

There are social media tasks, content creation, mastering your craft, networking, bookkeeping, accounting, checking stats, sales, and so many more tasks that startup entrepreneurs often juggle. Added to that, there are so many:

  • Different ways to start
  • Different advisors
  • Different tactics
  • Different business models

It can be very challenging to decide which tasks to do in order to achieve your goals.

Most People Start Businesses with Limited Time

I’d venture to say most people start their businesses with 20 hours or less. They start with:

  • Jobs
  • Families
  • Hobbies
  • And Other Responsibilities that they’re doing full time.

Time is a Reflection of Your Values

We each hold certain things in high value and we devote time as a reflection of that. 

If you’re spouse is valuable to you, you could probably tell with your schedule. If your healthy eating is valuable to you, you could probably tell with your schedule.

Unfortunately, making money can sometimes throw off our values because we choose an income source that compartmentalizes our lives and subtracts from our other values, and as a result, we feel discontentment.

You Choose Your Center

You can be:

  • Family-centered
  • Work-centered
  • Church-centered
  • Community-centered
  • Or even self-centered

Sometimes, the “center” can change, but it’s important to be careful of it. It’s best to be centered internally on principles rather than external things because they change.

Making Money vs. Staying Balanced

Sometimes, for the sake of making money, we feel we have to choose between people, lifestyle, and life-long aspirations.

As a result, we look for ways where the balance appears more in sync, but regardless of where we go, there is a huge role we play in maintaining the state of balance.

Would You be Happy with Imbalance?

Some people underestimate the importance of balance. They see people who have lots of money and percieve that if they had more, they’d be happier, but would you really be happy if you had success in one area and not the others?

For example, let’s say, you fix the money making issue. Now, you have your online business working and you’re getting a good income, but you had to buckle down, post lots of content, and you gained 100 lbs in the process. Would you be happy?

Or, let’s say, you had to tell your family to give you your space, and they got frustrated from not being with you so your relationships got “on the rocks”, would you be happy making money with unhappy family members and friends?

Or, let’s say you made several Facebook accounts under various different names, mislead lots of people, and felt like an ethical jerk, but made money. Would you be happy?

Most people wouldn’t be happy with imbalanced success. They may think they would be happy with the imbalance looking forward, but once they experience the results, they still feel discontent.

Most People want Success in More than One Area

Most people want: 

  • To make money
  • To have good and growing relationships, and to feel “a part of something bigger”
  • To have good health (maybe even six packs or lots of attraction)
  • To feel like they were helpful, they’ve accomplished something, and to have inner peace about it
  • To have fun and have good memories
  • To have security (and feel like it can’t be taken away)

Good Time Management and Prioritization Gives us the Ability to be Successful in Multiple areas

Being “principle-centered” and Good time managers makes us the best version of ourselves in these areas:

  • Health
  • Finances
  • Business 
  • Spiritual
  • Financial
  • Community
  • Recreation

It’s tough to come up with a harmony though, which is why you keep testing.

The Four Quadrants and Prioritization

In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey Talks about 4 Quadrants. He did a statistical study to prove that successful people spend their time in one quadrant.

While our current time allocations may be different, we can set goals to change our habits and re-allocate our time, so we can have a schedule that looks more like what would make us successful in multiple venues of life.

Here is a breakdown of the four quadrants…

Quadrant One: Urgent and Important

  • Crises
  • Pressing Problems
  • Deadline-driven projects

Quadrant Two: Urgent, Not Important

  • Prevention
  • Relationship Building
  • Recognizing new Opportunities
  • Planning and recreation

Quadrant Three: Urgent, Not Important

  • Interruptions
  • Distractions
  • Email notifications
  • Phone calls
  • Social media activities 
  • “Trending stuff”

Quadrant Four: Not Urgent, Not Important

  • Busy work
  • Time wasters
  • Pleasure activities
  • Binging on netflix
  • Binging on video games, etc.
  • Investing long amounts of time that doesn’t build towards future goals

Can You Guess Where Most Successful People Spend their Time?

Stephen Covey has studied and proven that most successful people spend their time in Quadrant Two. Important, but not urgent.

  • Planning
  • Prevention
  • Recreation
  • Relationship Building
  • Out of urgency because they’ve prepared ahead

In order to Stay Out of Urgency in These Areas, We have to Put our time emphasis on Prevention in these areas:

  • Health
  • Finances
  • Business 
  • Spiritual
  • Financial
  • Community
  • Recreation

Let’s Talk Prevention Examples…

These are some examples of preventative activities that can be done in each area of life…

  • Health – Preventative appointments, immunizations, exercise, healthy eating
  • Finances – Budgeting, Studying personal finance, Investing
  • Business – Planning, Researching, Finding role models, testing, optimizing
  • Spiritual – Journaling, praying, giving, reading the Bible, practicing gratitude
  • Community – Getting involved, giving back, taking care and not taking for granted
  • Recreation – Having fun, developing creativity and sportsmanship, spending time with family and friends

Quadrant One: Urgent Activities

We can’t talk only about preventative activities without identifying what the others may look like. So let’s take a look at some quadrant one activities…

  • Car broke down
  • In the hospital for diet-related illness
  • On the verge of divorce
  • Being threatened with foreclosure or repossession
  • Kids are behavioral to the point of interfering with success
  • And the list can go on….You see right?

Urgent Activities Happen to Everyone at Some Point

We all get into urgent activities, but it’s how we bounce back. It’s the recalibration that matters and whether we allow urgent matters to monopolize our lives.

You don’t want to live months where you’re going from car broke down to bad labwork to husband threatening to leave, and things all falling a part. At some point, you want to break the cycle–that’s where emphasizing quadrant two activities comes in.

How to Convert from Quadrants 1,3, or 4 to Quadrant 2

In order to transition from a schedule monopolized by quadrants 1,3,or 4 and into more quadrant 2 tasks, you’d need to:

  1. Analyze how you spend your time now
  2. Decide which time is allocated in a way you’d like to challenge
  3. Set new target allocations of your time

Just like making a budget where you decide how much of your income you want to spend on housing and so on, with your schedule, you decide how much of your time you want allocated to each task to achieve your life goals.

[Prioritization Activity 1: How do you spend your Day Now?]

Take a moment to list how you spend your day. When you wake up, what’s the first thing you do?

How long does that take you?

And go on…

If you have a hard time analyzing how your time is spent now, you may want to start by downloading a time-keeping app and recording how you’re normal time is being spent. How much time are you spending on helping people for profit? How much time are you spending helping people without profit? How much time are you spending eating? And so on…

Current Time Allocation Examples

It’s possible that you may not even realize how your time is currently allocated or which quadrant you’re spending the most of it in–that’s why it’s really good to track how your time is being used. Here are some examples of schedules that are imbalanced in one quadrant or the other…

Quadrant 4 – Current Allocation Percentage Example

As an example, let’s say…

  • You wake up in the morning and you have a habit (smoking, eating sweets, watching porn, etc.) and you spend 20 minutes before anything else
  • After that, you take a shower – 30 minutes
  • Get dressed – 30 minutes (because you don’t fold your clothes — hahaha)
  • Drive to work – 1 hour
  • You spend 8 – working – 9 hours
  • You go to the drive thru on the way home – 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Watch TV – 2 hours
  • Talk on the phone – 2 hours
  • Go to sleep – 8 hours

You may have fallen into a similar schedule at one point. You might be there now, and you may know others who have a schedule monopolized by quadrant 4 activities. It’s important to make the observation about how your time is being spent and make the decision to change it. Analyze your schedule to identify quadrant 4 activities you could cut back on.

Quadrant 3 – Current Allocation Percentage Example

  • Wake up 
  • Check your phone, text messages, social media, email – 30 minutes
  • Take a shower – 20 minutes
  • Check your phone again – 5 minutes
  • Groom – 1 hour
  • Head to work – 30 minutes
  • Texting on the way to work
  • Work from 8-5 (texting and checking the phone throughout the day)
  • Driving home – 30 minutes
  • Checked phone and got a coupon for food – 5 minutes
  • Stop to get food – 30 minutes
  • Talk on the phone – 3 hours
  • Sleep – 8 hours

Quadrant 1 – Current Allocation Percentage Example

  • Wake up 
  • Your spouse is yelling that you left the oven on overnight again – 30 minutes
  • Take a shower – 20 minutes
  • Check your phone and bill collectors are calling about repossessing your car – 5 minutes
  • Groom – 1 hour
  • Head to work – 30 minutes
  • Negotiating with bill collectors on the way
  • Work from 8-5 (texting and checking the phone throughout the day)
  • Driving home – 30 minutes
  • Car broke down and waited for roadside assistance- 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Had the car towed home because you didn’t have money to get it fixed – 30 minutes
  •  Try to find alternative transportation – 3 hours
  • Sleep – 8 hours

It’s Very Common and Easy to Slip into a Negative Pattern!

Falling into a pattern where your life is monopolized by quadrants 1, 3, or 4 can be seasonal or it can last years! You can have an unexpected or life-altering event trigger a series of habits that shake your entire plan. It’s important to be intentional with your time management and prioritization, so you can stabilize constants and successfully achieve your goals.

Quadrant 2 – Ideal Allocation Example

Everyone is going to have their own “comfortable harmony”. We each can make a schedule that helps us feel good about accomplishing our life goals. This is an example:

  • Wake up – 7 am
  • Meditate, pray, read – 30 min
  • Write to-do list or make daily goals – 15 min.
  • Exercise – 15 min
  • Eat breakfast – 30 min
  • Check phone – 15 min
  • Shower – 15 min
  • Groom – 45 min
  • House chores – 20 min
  • Helping people (for profit) – 3 hours
  • Lunch – 30 min
  • Helping people (for profit) – 4 hours
  • Family time and Dinner – 3 hours
  • Helping people (non-profit) – 1 hour
  • Check in on Friends by phone – 1 hour
  • Reading – 30 minutes
  • Sleep

Success Rides on the Back of Good and Consistent Routines

Successful people aren’t necessarily the most spontaneous. They’re often the most consistent, reliable, stable, and devoted to their routines.

[Prioritization Activity 2: Set Time Management Goals]

Observe your practices and decide if there’s more room for you to replace more 1, 3, and 4 quadrant activities with quadrant 2.

This will translate into your personal and business success.

Highlight Problem Areas and Set Short Term “Replacement Challenges”

James Clear, a habit change expert talks about how it takes 30 days to pick up a new habit. You can decide to replace quadrant 4 activities with business building activities. It may take time to make that switch the new “normal”. You might slip, but continue to put effort in, and keep revisiting your new plan. Don’t give up!

Routines Have a Compound Effect

  • If you replace quadrant 1,3,or 4 activities with a better alternative today doesn’t mean you’ll see results today. Regardless of what activity you choose to replace, there’s going to be habit change, skill development, and the normal compound effect.
  • This is true with losing weight, building muscle, improving relationships, or growing a business. It’s a compound effect.

Other recommended resources:

Conclusion

It’s Important to Be Disciplined About Your Time so you can Look Back on Your Life One day with no Regret. Regret is one of the worse feelings to have. If you’re intentional, you can minimize regret. You may not realize how small, recurring decisions make an impact the first week or the first month, but over time, you’ll notice.

If you enjoyed this, please leave your comments below and consider checking out one of the How to Entrepreneur courses where you can learn more that will help you start or grow your business.



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