Recently, I went back to school! It has been 27 years since I graduated from college, please do not do the math and figure my out my age! Anyway, after owning my own business for 18 years I decided I needed some new ideas, a little motivation; keep up with the times, yada yada. So I enlisted the advice of my local chamber and was put in touch with a business consulting firm, Mastermind Business Consulting http://mastermindbc.com/. After learning about their services, the decision was to attend a 6 week class on Leadership, Vision and Business Planning. This class encompasses a variety of topics to assist me including one on time management.
I know, I know, I am an adult. I run a business. I run a household with busy children. I can run a Google calendar with the best of them. And so what can I possibly learn about time management? After all, time management is not something new. But when you think about it, how often do you really learn about how to plan your time? I know this was not a class I took in college.
As a small business owner, we wear many hats and get pulled in many directions. I always say that my title should not be Small Business Owner, but should be Chief Problem Solver. When a customer issue arises, or a piece of equipment breaks, we call the owner. I would show up to work with a list of things I would hope to accomplish and by the end of the day, and a million interruptions, I didn’t get to complete my list. And, worse yet, I didn’t spend the appropriate amount of time on building my business or tasks that make me money. Anybody else struggle with this?
A first step to change this pattern is to track your time to see where you are spending it. There are great easy tools to use. I found www.toggl.com, the easiest time tracking tool, and it’s free. There are many others out there to choose from. Find one that works for you. Many are mobile friendly. Every little thing I did during the day was recorded. You will need to do this for a few weeks to gather enough data and be able to evaluate your work patterns. After you do this, you now know how long you need to work on certain projects and also can look for tasks that might be better off delegated to others; the old adage, if I am not making money at this task or building my business, who else could do it for me?
Now you know where you spend your time. The next step is to plan your time by using a default calendar. Take any calendar you like to use and block out your time for the week or even month, if you have certain projects that are just monthly. You will block out groups of time and assign those blocks specific tasks. Do this for every work day of the week. Be sure to be reasonable and leave yourself empty blocks of unscheduled time because, after all, you are a small business owner and something is bound to pop up! An example on my calendar is I schedule Wednesday mornings for blog writing. Honestly in the past, this task would get pushed off and I would start off Wednesday morning with my to-do list. And the next thing you know, I pushed off blog writing yet another day. I have prioritized my time and my schedule. I wouldn’t cancel a meeting with someone else, so I am not going to cancel a meeting with me either. Guess what happened? I get my blog posts written on Wednesday mornings now! I feel so accomplished!
Finally, share this default calendar with your employees. Now my employees know Wednesday mornings until 10:30am are blocked out for blog writing so, unless it is an absolute emergency, they respect my time instead of constantly popping in my office and asking questions. They save their questions, because on my calendar right after “blog writing” is “Employee questions, issues, planning and goals,” which is the time all those little questions that were previously numerous interruptions get answered in less than 5 minutes all at once.
These practices are simple, so practical; I question why I never bothered to do this before. It just takes a little time to practice, execute and train your employees. After doing so you will find you are more efficient and, instead of others managing your time, you are managing your own time. You have 525,600 minutes in a year. It seems like a lot, but we all know the saying “Time Flies”. So, by managing your work time, you will have more free time to do the other things you love to do.
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you” Jim Rohn