One of the reasons the start up community can be so attractive to so many is the idea of autonomy. Companies and employees can often mold and develop their structure and practices to what makes the most sense for them. One of the unforeseen challenges of essentially doing whatever you want with your day is figuring out how to build an effective schedule. What should you be spending your time doing? How long should you spend doing it? When should you be doing them? Here are a few tips for making the most of your autonomy:
First, brainstorm and categorize the type of work you do on a daily basis. Are you on the phone with clients? Emailing prospects? Taking smoke breaks? To manage your time wisely, you have to be honest with yourself about what you are actually doing throughout the day. Are you truly being productive, or is Buzzfeed sucking you in longer than you think?
Once you’ve determined what you’ve been doing, start to rank those tasks in terms of importance. What is absolutely necessary to get done, what can be put on the back burner, and what are your “would be great if I had the time” projects? We make these same types of priorities in our personal lives – “I absolutely have to leave the office by 6:30 to get my dry cleaning” or “I’ll swing by for a drink if I have time.” Your work responsibilities should be ranked in the same way.
Now the most important (and most difficult) part – block out time to get the “absolutely necessaries” done – literally block it out in your calendar. Be disciplined with yourself to working on those tasks at that time. There should be very few things that can interfere with that timeframe – be selfish and get it done. Sprinkle the rest of your day with back burner tasks. With a clear structure to your day, more time will open up and those “if I had time” tasks will start to get done.