In my experience the biggest problem small business owners face is time management – getting stuck doing mundane tasks or putting out fires, instead of being the CEO, the one who develops and implements the strategy and uses their expertise delivering the services they are passionate about.
I am no stranger to this problem and have to work hard to keep myself on track and not get side-tracked with all the opportunities and ideas that come my way. But the payoff is huge. I know a number of entrepreneurs who are highly creative but suffer from lack of focus. It’s important to be creative but the downside is lack of focus and planning. Even if you don’t suffer from this problem, our sound byte society has shortened all of our attention spans to our detriment. We are supposed to multi task all day long and digest hundreds of snippets of information, but that is not the best way to make progress because each time you are interrupted or shift gears you lose momentum and have to backtrack.
I remember when my daughter was a baby and I could never complete anything without the constant interruptions that are normal when you have a young child. This is to be expected and all moms are used to completing tasks one small piece at a time. But I must admit it was difficult because it took so much longer to complete something than it would have if I could have kept my concentration. However, many people work like this even when they don’t need to do so.
So here are some time management tips to help you change the way you use time so you can work less and make more.
One of the first things you need to do to change this habit is identify those tasks which are mundane, repetitive and not money generating. Then you need to enlist the help of others to do some of these time draining tasks.
You may be wondering, “Who is going to do this stuff and how will I pay them?” I’m going to give you some really great suggestions. It’s true that in the beginning you may have to wear many hats, but you need to have a plan to “move up the ladder” to CEO as soon as possible. What is your time worth? If you are spending time on non-priority tasks you’re taking that time away from marketing, planning and delivering services to clients.
If you love to have control over every little thing, if you’re a micro manager, get over it now! You’ll need to decide from day one what you can ultimately outsource and what you need to keep doing yourself, like taking care of your paying clients, developing new products and services and overseeing customer service and business planning.
I teach a Time Effectiveness Model, the goal of which is to get you to the point where you spend at least 75% of your working time on money generating activities, strategic planning and implementing, and lead generation. When your Time Efficiency level reaches 75% to 80% you will see DRAMATIC shifts taking place in your sales and productivity.
It’s important to remember the 80-20 rule. You’ll always get 80% of your sales from 20% of your clients. You’ll always get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. That 20% is focused, priority based action. So if you increase that 20% your results will increase accordingly. No entrepreneur succeeds long term without mastering time efficiency
What are some of the time thieves that can sabotage your time effectiveness and leave you feeling tired and frustrated? See if any of these ring a bell?
• Checking e-mail too often or not organizing your e-mail
• Too many phone or people interruptions
• Multi-tasking-it’s proven to actually lower your IQ! It robs you of focus.
• Time wasted on Instant Messaging
• Too much time on “Internet research”
• Over committing
• Spending considerable time on admin tasks, bookkeeping and invoicing
• Answering the phone each time it rings, even though it’s probably a telemarketer or not a priority
• Responding to requests that seem urgent–but are actually someone else’s priority–not yours.
• Not protecting your quiet, productive time
• Not setting clear boundaries with clients and vendors about when they can contact you or about how quickly you’ll respond to their requests.
• Spending more time on a client project or appointment than you’re being paid for.
• Spending too much time surfing the internet, doing “research.”
• Being an “information junky” and thinking the next bit of information will be the one that makes you rich.
• Feeling overwhelmed by all the work, or all the choices, feeling like a deer in the headlights, so you’re doing nothing.
Eliminating these time thieves and tracking how you use your time for just one weak can be an eye-opening exercise. Want to dramatically increase your sales this year? Learn to use your time like the true CEO that you are.© Copyright 2010 Janis Pettit