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Here's how to manage your time at work more effectively

victoria prew
How to hack your time managementVictoria Prew

As a venture-backed young female founder (I started Hurr, one of the UK's leading rental and resale fashion marketplaces), I’ve learnt that there’s one thing money can’t buy: time.

For entrepreneurs, time is undoubtedly your greatest asset – firstly finding it (it’s critical to put in the hours when starting out) and secondly ring-fencing it (pulling endless all-nighters isn’t sustainable long term). However, learning to manage your time effectively is key in any career, and will help you to develop a good work life balance, too.

These are my tips for learning how to best organise your time for success...

1/ Own your calendar

There are a number of ways to do this, but the first question you should ask yourself is, when are you ‘switched on’ and ‘switched off’? Try to plan your work diary one week in advance so that you can visualise the next seven days. Personally, I schedule in everything from board meetings to hair appointments and gym classes many weeks in advance, so that I know exactly what’s going on and when. I also factor in a daily lunch break, where I spend an hour out of the office on a walk with a colleague to make sure I break up the day.

2/ Think about efficiency

This may sound mundane, but we have an internal document titled ‘What an efficient meeting looks like’ at Hurr. Across the business, all meetings must be put in the diary with a clear agenda and action-pointed minutes are written afterwards. You only have to look at Spotify (who recently cancelled meetings with more than two people, instead focusing on boosting productivity by streamlining collaboration) to see the new standard for workplace efficiency.

victoria prew
Victoria Prew

3/ Understand (and use) time-blocking

The concept of time-blocking is critical. It’s important as you wade into the waters of a new business to remember that creating – and maintaining – boundaries is crucial to your success. For example, I often create a time block in the morning to respond to emails, then one to work on my main project for the day, such as reviewing and finalising a pitch deck. You can, and should, also create time blocks for free time and breaks, such as lunch and a walk.

4/ Learn how to say no

With your focus spread thin, it can be hard to balance your time properly. When you say yes to everything, you’re less likely to prioritise yourself, missing out on sleep and other healthy habits that are necessary to fuel an already-hectic lifestyle. The word ‘no’ doesn’t have to have a negative connotation. Try saying a version of the following: “Thanks for thinking of me for this opportunity. I really wish I was in a position to take advantage of it because your company and vision sound terrific. However, I’ve recently decided to focus on [add here whatever it might be], so I’m limiting my external commitments. If only there were more hours in the week!”.

5/ Don't be too generous

You need to be wary of giving away your time for free. There will be a time in most of our lives, for entrepreneurs especially, when we are asked to coach and mentor. But when you’re under pressure to deliver, there aren’t enough hours in the day for ‘pick your brains’ coffees and calls. Be honest about this. Personally, I love helping people and teaching them what I've learned, but it’s more efficient for me to respond to specific problems via email than in person, or set 20-minute time limits for calls.

6/ Learn that 80 per cent is good enough

Women especially often strive for perfection in every aspect of our lives. Get back the time that you spend stressing about the final 20 per cent, instead focusing your energy on the bigger, dial-moving initiatives within your organisation.

7/ Build in escapes

I’ve found that my best strategic thinking takes place on long walks, when I’m learning a new skill or simply just switching off and enjoying the weekend. Running a company is very much a marathon and not a sprint, so put yourself first and learn that self-care isn’t selfish.

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