You may think you can start a business in your spare time, and it may be possible, but you’ll probably discover it is a full time and all consuming venture. Your free time drops to negligible or zero and managing your time well becomes critical. Your to do list seems to grow exponentially and you may feel overwhelmed. Take a step back and move these ten items to the top of your to do list and mark them as on going and follow them. These are your To Not Do List.
1 – Do not waste your time if you lose enthusiasm for what you are attempting to do.
If you’re not having fun starting a business or you discover you have lost your initial enthusiasm, you either need a break or you need to reevaluate your priorities. Life it is too short to be spending time doing something you don’t enjoy doing. Prioritizing your tasks and eliminating stale tasks also helps. Do the important things. If you’ve lost the passion, it is probably time to cut your losses and move on.
2 – Do not lose time ignoring your friends and family
Focus is a wonderful thing when trying to accomplish something. The problem with focus is when you increase your focus on one thing, you are decreasing the focus on everything else. One reason you are probably doing what you are doing is to help your family. Don’t gamble the time you have with your family now for possible time later. There are no guarantees you will win or have the time later. Also, repeated behaviors turn into habits, and if you repeatedly put off spending time with important people, it becomes a habit and you won’t spend time with your family when you need to be there.
3 – Do not waste time ignoring your physical and mental health.
You won’t succeed if you fall ill or worse. Your health should always be a priority. Exercise has been proven to improve productivity as well as your mental abilities. In addition to physical well being, you shouldn’t forget your mental well being. Stress can debilitate you as efficiently a physical injury or illness. Remember to take breaks and actual vacations. If your business won’t survive without you, you’re doing it wrong anyway. Having fun is not a waste of time. Having fun serves a purpose of adjusting you and your priorities.
4 – Do not spend your time believing you are capable of doing everything alone.
Don’t believe you’re the only one who can do what you are doing. Do not believe the multitasking myth. Humans can’t do more than one thing at a time. Humans can time-slice. Time slicing is shifting from task to task. The problem with time slicing is that each time you do so you spend time remembering and reassessing what you have done in a previous slice. This occurs either consciously or subconsciously regardless of how recently you shifted tasks. It’s time wasted. Focusing on a single task and taking frequent breaks will accomplish more than time-slicing. You aren’t a better person for going it alone. Ask for help. Doing so is never a weakness.
5 – Do not waste time bemoaning or fearing mistakes
Fear of various kinds paralyzes. While paralyzed you aren’t doing anything. Dwelling on a problem or a mistake won’t solve it while you are reliving the past. You will make mistakes. Making mistakes is how you learn what works and doesn’t work in your startup. When a mistake is made your job is to accept, learn, adjust, try something new.
6 – Do not waste time putting things off because you don’t know.
Unless there is good reason, putting off something because you don’t have enough information won’t give you more information. When in doubt, make your best guess and try a quick experiment. Rapid turnaround implies rapid commitment to an idea. It may fail, but you now have more time to try something else.
7 – Do not waste time over-planning or overworking an idea
This is related to putting things off. A Minimally Viable Startup does Minimally Viable Planning. In a lot of cases this may be: 1) get an idea that may work in the business, 2) Mock up a couple of screens or Post-It™ notes, 3) Pass it by your potential customers. 4) Evaluate the response if any. Rapid turnaround gives you information quickly so you don’t waste time on ideas that have no long term value. Tight feedback loops allow you to adapt rapidly.
8 – Do not spend time putting off paying yourself
Your time has value. If you had to be (and maybe you are) a normal employee of your own company would you want to work for free? No. Pay yourself a fair salary for your time and efforts. Likewise, reward yourself for things well done. You are your own manager and you would want your manager to recognize your accomplishments. Recognize your own. Go out to dinner. Go for a walk. Maybe take a day off for something really great.
9 – Do not spend time with people and customers who you don’t value or who do not value you
People who you believe are going to cause you long term problems despite short term gains are probably not worth your time. Notice the phrase? “Worth your time.” Is success now worth pain later? Is pain now worth success later? Which would you rather have? Which option has better potential?
10 – Do not undervalue my own time
You are creating a company, and it may seem as if your focus is always on generating customers or clients and money. Always remember you are trading your time for your efforts. You are exchanging time for money. Time may appear to be a cheap commodity, but remember it is not renewable. Your time is valuable. How much of it are you willing to trade away? Make sure your return is worth your time.
Knowing what not to do is as valuable as knowing what to do.