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Founder psychology: you can improve your relationship with time by practicing a tested framework that fits your personality like a glove.

In a day, we have 24 hours. Let’s imagine nine of those a startup founder spends on their startup, then eight on their regular job they still keep, three with their family, and two are wasted in distractions. Now, how many hours does this person need to cut from their sleep in order to succeed? Or, if we frame the math problem differently, how many days can they survive following this schedule?

The above scenario is extreme, and yet nearly every entrepreneur struggles with managing their time. The reasons may vary—a changed routine, hiring an entirely new team, increased workload, handling crises, etc., sometimes even without a clear reason. Does a quick fix for such a challenge exist?

Studying startup founders for 15 years has shown us that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is because difficulties with time management are grounded in personality types and individual attitudes. 

In this post, we will help you analyze your timing and determine which approaches to improving it best suit you.

If You Had All the Time in the World, What Would You Do First?

As with any strategy, prioritization is the starting point. Precise time management is usually necessary when you’re juggling multiple projects. Ask yourself whether your startup is number one? If it is, are you dedicating enough time to it? What do you need to do to allocate more time to it in the future?

Besides, you also have your personal life, which might suffer when you identify too much with your professional goals. Therefore, take a moment to consider all the factors in your life, outline your short—and long-term goals, and specify which comes first, second, third, and so on. Following these steps will help you maintain purpose and prevent unpleasant surprises later on.

At Founder Institute, we use the self-assessment technique to encourage founders to reflect on themselves and their achievements. Promoting awareness has proven to be an incredibly effective method for sensibly evaluating both your performance and potential.

What Makes Time Long or Short?

Our perception of time is different, and it depends on factors like preference, focus, and emotion. Meanwhile, our collective attention span progressively narrows due to an abundance of information. This tendency makes it harder to prioritize, requiring a larger set of skills that influence time management. 

Working on the Entrepreneur DNA Test, we’ve determined nine typical profiles of successful startup founders based on 26 personality traits. Twelve of them are directly linked to how an entrepreneur organizes their time, largely determining their work style. These are: 

  • Adaptability - a highly adaptable startup founder will not waste time getting used to new environments, unexpected changes, and flexible agendas. 
  • Autonomy - autonomous people are good at self-directing, although they might be reluctant to delegate responsibilities.  
  • Collaboration - the execution of multiple tasks within timeframes in a startup requires coordination and partnership.
  • Emotional Control - poor time management can cause a significant amount of stress and vice versa.
  • Management - in a leadership position, a founder with good management skills will be able to assign duties expertly.
  • Motivation - highly motivated entrepreneurs have high levels of energy and are certain about what their priorities are.
  • Patience - patience allows founders to focus on the process rather than fixating on the outcome.
  • Perseverance - adopting a permanent time management model with long-term benefits involves discipline.
  • Planning - advanced planning skills are needed to set the right objectives and then arrange them within a timed structure.
  • Proactiveness - thinking ahead of events and seizing opportunities is an essential pillar of time management.
  • Reflection - founders who reflect on their actions a lot, are better at learning from experience and assessing processes.
  • Trust - trustful entrepreneurs communicate openly and stimulate their teammates to invest their best.

Not everyone excels in all these aspects, but anyone can learn through iteration and dedication.

Entrepreneurship is time-sensitive. Discover how you score on time management traits and receive a personalized action plan to maximize your strengths and avoid pitfalls.

What Is Your Style of Time Management

Depending on your background and expertise, you can develop your own unique style of organizing time as a founder, which may or may not align with the methods used by your team.

Look at the table below and check whether you recognize yourself in any of these designs:

Pick a Time Management Framework that Matches You Best

Our experience has taught us that early-stage entrepreneurs need a solid structure to learn, grow, and scale. Even so, some popular time management strategies will work for some founders and be daunting for others. 

In this list, we pinned down five popular timing frameworks with examples of how they correlate with different founder personalities and tips on how can be applied to day-to-day tasks.

Pomodoro Technique

Focuses on short bursts of work (usually 25 minutes) followed by a short break.Ideal for individuals who thrive with structured intervals and need frequent breaks to maintain productivity. Best DNA profile fits: Machines, Inventors, Innovators, Visionaries

Eisenhower Matrix

Prioritizes tasks based on urgency and importance, dividing them into four quadrants: urgent-important, not urgent-important, urgent-not important, and not urgent-not important. Suited for those who struggle with prioritization and need a clear framework for decision-making. Best DNA profile fits: Prodigies, Innovators, Architects, Achievers

Getting Things Done (GTD) / Zen to Done

Involves capturing all tasks and ideas in an external system, organizing them into actionable items, and regularly reviewing and updating progress. Beneficial for individuals who deal with information overload and need a systematic approach to managing tasks. Best DNA profile fits: Machines, Strategists, Visionaries, Inventors, Hustlers

80-20 Rule/Pareto Principle

Focuses on identifying the most significant tasks or activities that yield the highest results and prioritizing them over less impactful ones. Ideal for those who seek to maximize productivity by concentrating efforts on tasks with the most significant impact. Best DNA profile fits: Visionaries, Achievers, Innovators, Hustlers, Prodigies

Eat That Frog

Advocates tackling the most challenging task first thing in the morning to increase productivity and momentum. Effective for people prone to procrastination or feeling overwhelmed by daunting tasks. Best DNA profile fits: Hustlers, Prodigies, Achievers, Inventors 

Time Blocking with Batching

Involves scheduling specific blocks of time for different tasks or activities, ensuring focused attention and minimizing distractions. Suitable for individuals who prefer structured schedules and struggle with time fragmentation. Best profile fits: Innovators, Architects, Strategists, Visionaries

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Agile Methodology

Emphasizes iterative development and collaboration, breaking down projects into smaller, manageable tasks or sprints. Suited for startups with dynamic environments and teams with plenty of abundant in flexibility and adaptability. Best DNA profile fits: Machines, Strategists, Architects, Innovators, Achievers

Kanban Method

Visualizes workflow using boards with columns representing different stages of tasks, allowing teams to track progress and manage work-in-progress limits. Beneficial for visual learners and teams seeking transparency and efficiency in task management. Best DNA profile fits: Visionaries, Prodigies, Strategists, Inventors, Achievers

Of course, you can pick more than a single method. First, identify the one that resonates with you the most, then take into account your personality type, your startup specifics, and then discuss with your co-founders and teammates. It’s optimal to exercise time management tactics together to foster accountability. Finally, consistency is key, so give yourself a generous trial period, evaluation window, and space for adjustment. In other words, give yourself time to have time.

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