Whether you class yourself as an ‘entrepreneur’ or as a ‘business owner’, running a business can be a difficult juggling act. Each day we try to balance making business critical decisions, while not neglecting the more mundane tasks that keep our businesses functioning.
Therefore investing a little time reviewing how effective & efficient your time spend is, is time well spent.
This article reminds us all of the key concepts of time management & encourages us to be a little more disciplined should we need to be.
How Should I be Spending my Time?
It is said, as a small business owner, your time should be made up of only 3 key things: Thinking, Relationships & Action.
Depending on the stage of development of your business will determine how much time you will need on the following: creativity & idea generation; forming concepts & strategies; decision making & planning.
As we all know building a successful business relies on a healthy network, whether this is formed of customers, business contacts or suppliers. Building relationships takes a large investment of time to ensure a worthwhile network.
Whether this is actually doing the core job or tasks associated with building your business, your timespend will depend on your personal situation & the stage of development of your business.
Of these 3, those which are the most productive for your business could be classed as your ‘high effectiveness/efficiency zone’. In an ideal world, you should aim to spend at least 50% of your time here!
On a piece of paper under the 3 categories above, look at a typical week & write notes of how you spent your time.
(Bearing in mind the stage of development of your business & personal factors)
Q. Are you happy with the allocation of your time spend?
Q. If not, what would you prefer the allocation of time to look like?
Q. Is there anything obvious you could do to address this?
Here are some ideas…
1) Get into the habit of keeping a diary/record of your time spend each week. This will highlight any ‘time stealers’
It will also help you set realistic expectations for your time moving forward.
You’ll see how much of your precious time is spent on producing results which benefit your business. Conversely it will highlight any time which is unproductive.
2) Use the above to create ‘To do lists’ or ‘Schedules’ whatever works best for you.
This doesn’t have to be a labour intensive process these days. Technology enables us to sync things automatically on our phones, tablets & laptops. We can set up reminders & notifications to keep us on track.
When doing this, remember to schedule your ‘thinking’ time. Some entrepreneurs claim this should be at least 50% of your time. However, for most this would seem a luxury. Don’t despair, some is better than none at all.
With ‘Action’ try to allocate an approximate timespend for each task & write the ‘start/end’ time in your diary if possible.
3) With meetings, people often schedule back to back, with no time for overrun or transit between one place & another. Of course, try to avoid this to prevent stress of constantly rushing from one place to another or turning up late.
4) It is impossible to spend all of your time in high productivity; it would be exhausting & you need ‘downtime’ occasionally.
As mentioned earlier, plan to spend at least 50% of your time engaged in ‘The high effectiveness/efficiency zone’.
5) Where possible, plan some time for interruptions, a percentage of your day will always be less productive; there is no way around it. Trying to minimise, rather than eliminate, is the key.
Q. Do you easily get sidetracked with interruptions, be it visitors, emails or calls?
Q. What can you do to minimise this?
* Only check emails at set times during the day?
* Put an `Out of office` on more often?
* A `Do not disturb` sign?
* Put your phone through to voice mail when you are working on something important?
6) Take the first 15-30 minutes of each day to plan your day. You’ll be amazed how less stressful your day will feel.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like structure, give it a go anyway. As we all know, plans can always change according to unforeseen crises that crop up during your day. With a plan, at least you’ll be able to easily identify & then move the less important/urgent tasks to accommodate them.
7) Is it Urgent & Important?
Stephen Covey’s now famous & invaluable time management system is based on these two concepts.
Simple, but still one of the most impactful thought processes (especially when you need a bit more self discipline on your time spend).
Q. Is important that I do this?
Q. Could someone else do it instead?
Q. What would be the impact to my business if I didn’t do it?
Q. How urgent is it?
Q. Does it have to be done right now or can I leave it?
Q. Do I have more urgent things I should be doing?
Review how effective & efficient you are after having carried out the checks above.
Q. Are you happy with your time spend now?
Q. Does it add to your business?
If not …
Q. Do you need to make some more changes?
Q. What jobs could be conducted by someone else just as effectively (or perhaps, even better?)
Q. Can you delegate to someone?
Q. Is it time to look at employing staff?
Q. Can you outsource anything?
A lot of administration or specific skills tasks can be outsourced cost effectively these days, enabling you to focus your time more efficiently & effectively.
One of our contacts believes:
“I believe that outsourcing is most valuable for specialist or project based tasks that are outside my core competencies, such as finance, documentation design & proofreading, social media campaigns and web development”.
Another contact explains:
“I’m not great at managing my time effectively. I need a PA but can’t afford one yet. I outsource my diary management, travel arrangements & printing requirements. It’s surprising how much time this used to take me; I now focus on business development tasks, which is a much better use of my time”.
I hope you find this article helpful. If you have any questions please let us know.
Posted by Dawn