Business Owner Time Management, You can do it Better!
You know what I am talking about business owner, that feeling of dread you get as your “work” day comes to end; how can the day be over when there is still so much left to do? How come I control my time and there is never enough of it? I became a business owner to manage my time and all I ever do is work.
It is the challenge that many business owners face at some time in their business. Either there is not enough business to sustain them financially, so they are frantically working all the time, in search of more business or their business has gotten very busy and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. It is enough to make your head hurt all the time. Worst of all, if those are the only two options, why would anyone want to own their own business?
Surely, there are other options
There are business owners who get control of their time and have highly successful businesses. What are they doing to get more hours in their day? How are they taking vacations? How are they spending time with the people in their lives that matter without sacrificing their business success?
It Starts with a Clear Vision
This may seem so obvious, but the business owners who manage their business growth and have balance in their lives have a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve in their business. The activities they spend time on are for the greater vision in their business, not just working because there is a lot to be done and only they can do it. They start off (the really focused business owners) in their business with a goal for the business and what they can achieve in the business. In other words, it isn’t a business for the sake of replacing a job and an income. When you have clarity about what you are trying to achieve, you can focus your effort on the activities that bring you closer to the goal. The next time you spend more than 10 minutes on an activity, ask yourself, “Does this bring me closer to my goal? And, if yes, on a scale of 1 -10, where is it with 10 being the most important thing I could be doing to get there faster?”
Is your vision for your business crystal clear? What do you want the business to achieve in the next year? The next three years? What about the next 5 and 10 years? And, the vision has many components, including: financial, hours of work, employees, products/services, customers, etc. The vision is also about what you want to achieve personally as a result of what you are doing in your business. In what areas of your life would you like to develop that getting your dream business in place will allow you to make happen?
A client, I have worked with for several years has a vision of an extended trip every year and the business is generating revenue while she is vacationing, in the same way it does when she is working? When we first started working together, she was her business, so that was not all possible. Today, having spent time developing new ways to look at her business, better systems and a team, she is very close to making that a reality. All of the work that she has done over the past few years though was a new way of looking at her business and took time for her to embrace.
What Makes it So Hard?
What gets in the way of planning and having a vision for business owners? If you think there is not enough time to create a vision and map out a plan, you are in the way of what is truly possible in your business. Having enough time to see the business you want and determine the best way to make it happen is the most important thing you can do to realize your ideal business. How can you create your “ideal” business, if you haven’t determined what that is?
When your vision is clear, you can plan what you spend your time on and manage your time more effectively. Imagine, you have a plan for the day and you start on it first thing when you get to work….can you see that picture in your mind? How does it feel to be getting things done and moving on to the next thing on the list? If you thought you could finish your day having completed most, if not all of the important things you needed to do would you be able to find 15 minutes everyday to make a plan?
One of the biggest time wasters for people with a lot to do is they worry about how everything is going to get done and how they will keep everything top of mind, so nothing gets forgotten. Write it all down (throughout the day is best) before you end your day and you will find you get more sleep and you wake up with a focus on getting the important things done.
Eating the Frog
One of the best business books (I have read) is Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. There a lot of solutions for getting more done in this book and it doesn’t take long to read, either. For me, the number 1 lesson was that if we make lists, humans have a tendency to do the easy things first, so that we can take “credit” for getting things off the list. If you look at your list, you will find about 20% of the items would have a significant impact on your business.
So, when you make your list, identify those 1 or 2 items that if completed would create bigger results and do those first. If you make that a daily habit, your business will grow more quickly and you will feel more in control of your time.
I have added my own thoughts to this idea since sometimes our list has many more items on it that are likely to have a big impact than 1 or 2. If you are trying to decide which things should be done first, determine what would happen if you don’t do the items in question and whichever has the most significant consequences is number one.
You can apply this logic to your vision as well. When you write your one year vision, what things in your vision will propel your business forward, in the least amount of time or the most efficiently?
Finally, Set Limits
With only 24 hours in a day and not all of those available for working, what can you do that will help you accomplish more items on the list? Throughout my working life I have discovered an interesting phenomenon; you may have noticed it as well.
Those that have the most on their plate are the ones with the tendency to put more on their plate. Today, I spoke with someone who works 10+ hour days and has community commitments beyond their work. I see this everywhere, including in my own life. And, I am the last person to tell people stop taking on so much.
What I have worked hard to do though and coach clients on is how to set limits. When you know your priorities (make sure you clearly know your priorities), you can look at what your doing and see if your actions support those priorities.
Make a list of your number 1, 2, & 3 priorities. Then, track how you spend your time for one week. Did you spend the most amount of time on #1, the second most on #2 and third most on #3? If yes, you have discovered the secret to success. If you didn’t, find ways to reset. A couple of years ago, I realized what I said were my priorities and how I was spending my time didn’t match. I had to make some tough decisions and restructure and pull away from some commitments. I didn’t like pulling back from commitments and letting people down, but by doing so, I was able spend more time on my priorities and I sleep better at night. Btw, sleeping well at night helps in getting more done as well.