Time management seems to challenge every small business owner. The most accepted excuse we give ourselves to not tackling something new, or finishing something we started, is that we don’t have the time.
We bake the excuse so full of emotional ingredients that we believe our own lies.
We don’t have time is just another way of saying:
This task, goal, or plan isn’t that important.
I am procrastinating because I don’t really know how to make the goal happen.
I have really bad time management habits and can’t manage my time appropriately.
These are all believable. I don’t have time isn’t.
These Time Management Tips Are For You,
If you are tired of not getting things off the list…..
If you are sick of hearing yourself say “I don’t have time”…..
If you want to see a light at the end of the tunnel…..
Here are some ways to find the time:
Time Management Tip #1: Get up an hour earlier in the morning
I know you already get up early. I know that you can’t keep adding an hour to each morning to get something knocked off the list. But, I had a boss once who told me I could do anything for a fixed period of time. I can get up earlier for 2 months if I know I will achieve my goal and that maybe my goal will even save me more time in the future.
Another benefit to adding the minutes in the morning is that few people are up at this time to distract you from your objective.
Time Management Tip #2: Remove yourself physically from distractions
If you own your own business, and you are physically available, people will interrupt you. And if you are stressed and short with them, people will feel put out. They will. It’s human nature. Avoid this by putting up physical barriers. Shut your door and tell everyone you need 2 hours to work on something specific. Leave the office and go to a coffee house or home office when you need uninterrupted time.
Don’t just rely on looking busy to keep people from interrupting you.
Time Management Tip #3: Plan your time
Having a system doesn’t work if you don’t think about how you are going to spend your time and plan out exactly how you can be most effective. Depending on the goal, there are different ways you can plan out your time.
One example for me is I need more time to blog consistently. If I really want to publish two or three posts per week, I need to consider:
- The time of day that I am at my most creative to write.
- How much time it takes me to fully complete a post. (It doesn’t do me any good to steal an extra 30 minutes because it isn’t enough time to complete a full post. I tend to abandon unfinished work, so for me, I need about 90 minute writing time blocks.
- The environment I require to write.
- The time pressure of the task. (For example, if I have a client coming in I will always blow off other work for client work. I need to have my client work for that day buttoned up if I am going to be able to focus on writing.)
When I look at my criteria, it is easy to plan out consistent writing time. Based on my answers to these questions, it is best for me to plan out 90 minute writing times first thing in the morning, preferably at home, before anyone else is awake.
Time Management Tip #4: Measure the Opportunity Cost
We procrastinate with our time, visiting at the coffee pot, checking out all of our social media sites, making the 10th to do list of the day, and other filler type items sometimes because we don’t have a cost associated with these distractions. Since you can earn money with your time, which in any viable business is possible, then you have to look at the opportunity cost of that time waste.
If I blow an hour and a half a day on distractions I am losing 6-8 hours per week in productivity. That is about 20% of our work time if we are trying to work a normal 40 hours per week. Did you realize you were throwing away a full day of your work week on things that don’t accomplish anything for your business.
I am not saying social media is a waste of time. I do not thinking talking to colleagues and sharing life with the people you work with is poor time management. It’s the slipping into it with no purpose or quality that eats up time and doesn’t gain anything. I would much rather my boss sit down with me for a full undivided half hour or hour planned weekly than to catch up with them at the coffee pot or in the hall.
Time Management Tip #5: Only do the things that no-one else but you can do
And don’t say that is everything. What is your highest value to your business? That is what you need to focus on. If you have the excuse that you do everything better than everyone else, even if it isn’t your highest value, then you are doomed to limit your business to the breadth of your reach. Outsource, delegate or punt the less important things. Seriously. Anything else is a hoarding problem.
If you applied all of these principles in order to get one key goal accomplished in your organization, would it work? What else do you do to keep the time management excuses at bay and accomplish new and exciting goals in your business?
Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC is a business coach who consults with Christian business owners all over the world about building a successful business on a foundation of their Christian values.