007 How I Break Up My Time as a Solo Entrepreneur


How you spend your time is critically important to growing your business.  In this episode learn what systems you can use to improve your productivity.


Time. As an entrepreneur, it’s one of the things we always want more of, especially so as a solo entrepreneur. I found that as a solo entrepreneur it’s even more critical to completely be aware of how I’m spending my time. There’s three pieces of advice I’ve taken into how I structure my time. Now that I’m working on touching base .io full time for the next six months, the first piece of advice that I took into account is that you should be spending about half your time on product development and half your time on marketing.

Now as someone who comes from a software development background, of course, I want to gravitate towards the software side. It’s what’s fun for me, enjoyable, and it comes easily to me. However, the software part of things doesn’t necessarily grow the business. So this piece of advice is especially important for those developers turned entrepreneurs that are trying to grow their project; half your time on developments and make sure to put half of your time to marketing.

The second system that I use comes from an entrepreneur coach named Dan Sullivan who where I heard about his time system from. He breaks down days into three separate categories. One is free days. One is buffer days. And the third ones are focused days. Free days are especially important to entrepreneurs because since we don’t have a fixed work schedule, we could end up using all our time working. Which, I think, as most people know isn’t very healthy. And in the long run will just make you less productive.

So it’s important to schedule the free days where you are completely off of work. Now for me I just use Saturday and Sunday as my free days. And during these days and holidays I am free to do whatever I want, and I cannot do work related activities. The second type of days are buffer days. Buffer days are for all those things and tasks that don’t fit into the focus days. I also follow the Getting Things Done system and David Allen points out in GTD that there’s all these little things that we know we need to get done.

This could be just errands or you need to buy something for the office or your computer, or you need to get ink for your printer, all these little things. And what happens is these little things just add up and take up mental space in your mind. So I use getting things done, and as part of the system I have a list of all my next action steps that I need to do for these miscellaneous tasks.

And so I use the buffer day to go through the list and get things out of the way. And I do find that it does clear up my mental energy to know that, first of all, with getting things done that I have it all written down. I don’t need to be constantly reminding myself in my brain that, “Okay, I need to do this. I need to do this.”

And then secondly, by going through the list and getting things done as the system says, then it’s getting those things out of the way for me to focus on the things that are important to the business. And while, of course, most of us want to be working and focused on the important things all the time, unfortunately the way things work that’s not usually possible. So it is important to have these buffer days.

And then the third type of days are the focus days. The focus days are where you’re supposed to be totally focused on what you are doing. Figure out the main thing that you can do for your business and spend the day only on that. Don’t give in to interruptions for emails or miscellaneous things that take up your focus and energy.

And so as I mentioned at the beginning, the first piece of advice I try to put into place is 50-50; 50% marketing and 50% development. But I did start by doing that. So I would have one week where my focus days would be on marketing, and one week where my focus days would be on development. But I found that I needed a third type of day which is a direct outreach day where I’m trying to directly engage with people to try to move things along more faster. Because marketing is great but especially for me as a bootstrapper it does take a while to pay off. So by doing more direct outreach, I can speed up the process.

So I have one week where my focus days are all on marketing, one week where my focus days are on developments, and one week where my focus days are on outreach. And sometimes I do need to replace a day here or there. For example, there was a bug that came up in touching base where I needed to work on that instead of an on-boarding day. So I just replaced that development day or replaced that outreach day with a development day and then trade them so the next week will be reversed.

And I found that this system works so far. It keeps me from going back to my default of just wanting to do software developments. It forces me to get out there and focus on marketing. And I find that having a week of four focus days for the task gets me to move things along pretty good. I can plan it out what I want to do, and I can see the progress that I’m making. So I encourage you if you are especially a solo entrepreneur or you have control over your time, figure out a system that works for you and I think this one works for me. And if you want, you can give it a try. Hopefully, you can feel better about how you spend your time and get more done.

Published by

Matt McCormick

Matt is the host of "7 Minute Sales" - a podcast from the perspective of a developer-founder who is learning to sell and market more effectively. Follow my journey and lessons learned at blog.touchingbase.io. Matt is also the founder of TouchingBase.io - A Better Follow Up System for Gmail.