Time management is one of the biggest challenges we hear from business owners. How do you get all the stuff done in a day or even a week? Most of us go into business for ourselves because there is something bigger out there for us besides being an employee to someone else. However, there are those days when we think to ourselves that it would be easier to go back to being an employee. If we can make business ownership as easy as it was when we were employees, life would be grand…wouldn’t it? Well, we can’t take away all the challenges of business ownership, but we can give you some tips to better handle your time.
1. Keep it simple. Technology is fabulous and makes many tasks much easier, however it is also very easy to get wrapped up in too much technology by trying to use it all when it’s not necessary. For example, we do not use task lists. We only use our calendars. All of our tasks get placed into our calendars as an appointment with ourselves. By doing this, we block out the estimated time to complete the task. If we do not do this, a couple of things happen. First, we generally will fail to allot ourselves enough time for the task and we find ourselves each trying to fit 30 hours of work into a day. If we have a separate task lists from our calendars, we also tend to forget to look at our task lists and appropriately plan tasks into our day.
2. We’re only the boss on Sunday evening. We realized that the part we sometimes enjoyed about being employees was that we didn’t have to think about what we were doing every minute of every day. We were told what to do and we did it. So now we are only the business owner on Sunday evening and if there is a fire that comes up during the week. We sit down for about an hour every Sunday evening to plan our week, blocking times for phone calls, appointments, tasks, etc. If we do this, then starting Monday morning, we have already done all the thinking and we can just be employees to our calendars. We find there to be fewer fires to put out, yet we can easily look at our calendars and rearrange if need be.
3. Travel time is still TIME. Estimated travel time has its own category in our calendar. Always round your time up!!! For example, if GPS or Google Maps says it is going to take you 47 minutes to get to your destination, give yourself an hour of travel. Not only is it professional to be on time or early, it is also much less stressful if you are not racing against the clock.
4. Value your own time! It baffles we that we will not miss appointments with other people, but we will easily ignore appointments we make with ourselves. We used to be that way too, until we learned this little mind trick. Now, we tell ourselves that for every time block in our calendar, there are 20 people relying on us to show up. Since we would never miss a meeting with 20 people or even a single client, this little trick has changed our point of view and keeps us on track.
5. Review your week. At the beginning of the week, we print a copy of our planned calendars and set them aside. As we go through my week, we modify our calendar to what we actually did, make changes to the areas where we deviated from the plan. Be honest about what you actually did! If we decide that we are not going to complete a task and rather we take a nap, we will actually change our calendar to say so. At the end of the week, we can print an updated copy of our calendar and compare it to our original plan. Then we celebrate where we did great, and correct the areas that need improvement.