Time Management Issues: Part 1 — The Things an Entrepreneur Wished You knew

Part 1: We Have Time Management Issues

Full-time entrepreneurs are an interesting bunch. Though this article is strictly about FULL-TIME entrepreneurs, it is actually not for them. This is an article for the people that own one. By that, I jokingly mean; their loved ones. Here we will discuss the things that full-time entrepreneurs think or wish they could share with their friends and family but probably never will.

That being said: you are welcome in advance.

A quick word of warning: I have specified the criteria of ‘entrepreneur’. These observations may not apply to those who are NOT 100% reliant on their businesses. Part-time entrepreneurs and the lives they lead are a whole different ball-game from this. These series of articles is NOT about them.

The first thing I’ll share with you that we wished you knew but we will never say is:

Time Management is an issue for us:

For solo-entrepreneurs or micro-entrepreneurs, there’s often more tasks to do than we are even aware of. Epiphanies come to us of additional improvements we need to make all the time. It is constant. We just may not do them, but we are aware. This is exacerbated for entrepreneurs who work from home. In many African cultures, working from home (white collar work) is often indistinguishable to some from that of simply lazying around at home. When an entrepreneur is sat behind their laptop, they could be doing anything from building a client’s website, writing a business proposal, creating a budget, responding to a client, watching a movie or playing Fifa 18. You simply cannot determine if they are being productive or not. With that understanding, it is easy to see why people close to many entrepreneurs may struggle “respecting” an entrepreneur’s work time.

The truth is, even if someone is an entrepreneur, they may entertain your work-time phone call out of courtesy and not really preference. It is likely they would prefer you called after the normal work day, during lunchtime or over the weekend.

This is the logic: we know that you value your work daytime. We know we can not call you up or visit you during that time for “bonding things” and in that vein, we feel that we are not “respected in the same manner”. We are aware that these visits or calls are coming from the basis of your understanding that our time is flexible. Yes, it is very flexible because we get to structure it ourselves. However, an entrepreneur who wants to be productive will put together (often just mentally), their own time management rules to maximize the value of their time. If you see a full-time entrepreneur doing recreational things during a work day, it is possible that they just finished a project the day before and they are taking the day off to re-calibrate for the next project… it’s also possible they are simply taking some time off but they have factored in work hours during the evening or night to meet whatever deadlines they have.

Whatever the case, having to verbalize that they would prefer you chitchat with them off their billable time seems unnecessary, petty and rude because we feel you should know that. Many of us relax this consideration for other entrepreneurs because we know that we live in the same world. It’s a prejudice we are privy to. The bottom-line is if you are employed somewhere, at the end of the month, your billable time will be reimbursed for you by someone. For self-employed folks, that’s very different. The entrepreneur needs to maximize their billable time too by being productive during that time. An entrepreneur who does not give serious thought to how they spend their time (during potentially billable hours) is possibly robbing him or herself from potential earnings. This entrepreneur could be keeping himself poor and you are an accomplice.

It is worth stating: if you noticed that your entrepreneur is spending a lot of time doing recreational activities during the time when they are normally very economically productive, there could be a very real problem. Let us call it a “productivity block”, like writer’s block but for entrepreneurs who are failing to be productive. I thought I was being clever until I remembered the word ‘procrastination’. It’s the same thing. Worse still, if this “productivity block” lasts for weeks or months, they could be dealing with some real difficulty like depression.

Overall, social entrepreneurs with a propensity for people-pleasing (like myself) may struggle with time management because it means telling your mother or friend that you can not talk about her new cat right now. How on God’s green earth you do derail that phone call or Whatsapp conversation without causing offense?

Solutions

If you are concerned about your favourite entrepreneur’s time, you could do the following:

  • If your entrepreneur appears to have a “productivity block” (i.e. prolonged procrastination), though unlikely to be effective you could ask them if they would like to talk about it. Still, talking things out may help with clarity and making decisions.
  • Default to social calls after normal work hours, during lunchtime or over weekends.
  • You could also just mirror how they treat you (in terms of availability) and give that right back to them (“golden rule” style of living).
  • Alternatively, just ask them when they prefer to have social interactions. You can not ever go wrong with a little thoughtfulness.
  • Lastly, an entrepreneur is ultimately responsible for their own time management: so if they (cough…) “we” are being unproductive, it’s still our fault. We must do better ). This requires self-discipline and sometimes adjustment to how we use technology. Software exists that can anyone can use to block social media apps for times when one needs to focus on a task. Here’s a list of options. I’ve used Rescue Time, it’s pretty good. Even simply turning off a mobile phone or logging out of whatever social media platform can help when concentrated work time is needed for the sedentary worker.

In conclusion, self-disciple and communication is unavoidably needed.

When I was drafting this article out, I quickly realized that much goes unsaid by entrepreneurs. Therefore, expect more articles to come such as: “ Why entrepreneurs would rather die than ask you for help”, “ We do not all want the same things as you” and “ Why what we earn is very private to us”.

Do you have anything thoughts on this matter? Would you like to comment? Please feel free. What are your observations? Please leave a comment below.

Want to discover more about Maclean Mbepula? Find her on Linkedin or here on Medium. She’s written 3 books (one in entrepreneurship from a grassroots perspective (“Challenge Accepted) and 2 poetry books which are available for purchase on Amazon or you can sign up and get the kindle versions 100% FREE.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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Ghostwriter. Author. Entrepreneur. Web Designer. Artist/ Poet. Stand-Up Comedian. Founder of Afrineur, Creative Africa Space & Shekinah Invest. ENFP. :)

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Maclean Tamanda Mbepula

Ghostwriter. Author. Entrepreneur. Web Designer. Artist/ Poet. Stand-Up Comedian. Founder of Afrineur, Creative Africa Space & Shekinah Invest. ENFP. :)