Do You Manage Your Time or Does It Manage You?

May 12, 2011, Written by Sue Miley

It’s five minutes until 7:00 a.m.  My phone beeps with the incoming text:

“I am running late.  About 15 minutes.”

I receive a call at 20 minutes until 2:00 p.m:

“Can we reschedule our 2:00 appointment, I am in the middle of an installation and won’t finish until late this afternoon.”

The 7:00 a.m. person requested to meet extra early and has never made it on time.

The 2 p.m. person, really, what can you even think?  You didn’t know until 20 minutes before our appointment that you weren’t going to finish your install for 3 more hours.   When you scheduled the install you didn’t know it could conflict with our meeting?

Hey, I am just a vendor so I don’t count anyway!

Ouch!

This is just a symptom of a bigger problem that threatens the productivity, effectiveness, and integrity of you and your employees.

The Problem

The majority of employees that work for small businesses do not have a consistent, working time management or calendar system.

I asked an owner the other day if their service techs have a calendar system with their calls and preventative maintenance schedules on them.  He said “I don’t know.”  He really didn’t know.

Another client only puts appointments on their phone.  It doesn’t sync to anything and there is no place where they can actually see the whole week at a time.

Still a third client had lists with tasks and people assigned.   When I visited the site most of the lists had not been checked off and were several months old.

Business Without Time Management

If you don’t have a fundamental tool to do your job….
if you don’t require your employees to plan their work and meet their commitments…
if you have so little to do that you can actually keep it all in your head…

You are most probably….

walking into your office each day to figure out what is on fire that day….
frustrated that you and/or employees are late to work, late to meetings and miss deadlines….
and wonder what your employees are doing for 8 hours a day…

A Multitude of Systems to Choose – Pick One

Everyone in business needs a time management system.  It can be on paper, it can be in the clouds, it can be in pretty colors with motivational pictures, or it can be a legal pad.  But, you need to keep track of your appointments, responsibilities, tasks and other commitments.

Getting Started with Time Management

Some suggestions to get started:

  1. Spend 30 minutes at the beginning of your week planning. Put in appointments and commitments, both business and personal.  Remember in the bible it says “Let your ‘yes be yes’ and your ‘no be no’”.  We need to keep the commitments we make!
  2. Plan tasks and meetings over time. Don’t just keep everything on one Master To Do list.  It will look overwhelming and impossible.  Spread it out on a weekly or monthly calendar and things become more realistic and manageable.
  3. Try different systems until you get one that fits you. I used to switch to a “new” system every few months.  Once I found the combination for me, it has been in place for years now!

The Benefits of a Good System

It is not the goal to shove more and more stuff into your day.  The purpose is to help you make wise decisions on how to use your time, and to make commitments of your time, that you can live up to with integrity.

It’s a tool for you!
Benefits:

  • Understand where your time is going.
  • Plan the most important things in first.
  • See what you have planned so you don’t double book or over-commit.
  • Working your plan will improve productivity and efficiency – you know what needs to be done.

Again, I know you have heard all of this before….but are you doing it?

The last six out of six business people I spoke to were not using an effective, consistent, time management system.  Look in the mirror, look inside yourself, are you?

If not, start today!  Really!

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. David Rupert says

    Another fantastic piece. Every person in business or just running a home, needs to ‘redeem their time.’ Its a discipline. It’s a matter of priorities. Where is your heart? What do you value are questions we need to ask.

    • S_Miley says

      Hi Ann, Working with others on time management is always a great reminder for me. I need to refocus my own time management routines regularly. Yesterday was a good example, so I need to spend extra time with my planner today too! Thanks for visiting!

  2. S_Miley says

    Hi David, It seems like you have been to the school of experience that I went to. I have tried life without time management and with it, and it absolutely makes all the difference in world. Thanks for visiting!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.