Have you ever wondered why your business may be stagnating, or considered why those nagging issues you have in your business never seem to go away, or indeed get resolved? Do you have frustrating situations within your businesses and its ability to function well in front of a client?
As business owners we are by our very nature the type of person who desires continuous improvements in everything we do whether that is improvements in the methods of how we sell our products and services, or how efficient we are at receiving payment for them. We constantly strive for those marginal gains in performance, which invariably leads to greater profits within our business.
Our frustrations however are very often due to a lack of time, or not managing our time efficiently, and creating an order of importance within to do lists. We sometimes opt for the easy route, or the easily resolvable issues we may have, but in reality it is the more complex issues which are going to have a greater positive impact on the success of the company. I think we can all relate to those items on the to do list that we keep putting off simply because we aren’t sure where to start or indeed find the time. We haven’t thought about how we are going to implement those ideas, or business improvements, we haven’t planned to do so.
Organise time to run your business properly!
We have all heard the highly repeated cliché, make sure you have the time to work on your business, instead of within it. Cliché or not, it is absolutely true, and businesses that thrive and experience continuous high growth are those who have business owners who are organised and prepared to work on their businesses continuously. These are the people who are extremely organised with their diaries, and efficient at allocating time prioritising specific tasks throughout a working day, week or month. They very often thrive on being organised, knowing that their efforts to be organised will pay dividends where the success of the business is concerned.
They are also incredibly assertive when it comes to allocating their time, and will seek ways to reduce any form of distraction away from what they have planned to do. Importantly, they also schedule time for themselves and their families extremely well. They understand that 14 or 16 hour days are sometimes necessary, but to do this consistently will only see them burning out, which will be a detriment to the business.
Improving your business is directly correlated with improving time management
How efficiently you allocate your time, and how well you plan it is directly connected to the success of any business. To be a great leader you have to lead by example, so if you’re not organised, your team won’t be either. Staff tend to follow your leadership, as you set the standards for them.
The following points are elements of time management and organisational skills I have adopted and encourage clients to do in order to be more efficient in their daily business activities…
Work out your current use of time
Carry an easily accessible schedule, recording all of your thoughts, conversations and activities for the week. Use the time capture methods you may adopt for your staff on yourself. You can then analyse and understand how efficient with your time you actually are. You can make decisions on any activities you could be passing to others to free up your time to work on more important things.
Diarise as much as you can
To do lists can get very long, to the point they are almost unworkable. So look to allocate specific diarised time for the important activities, those activities that have a direct impact on your businesses success. Schedule appointments with yourself, and this will help to educate your staff that you are busy working on the business at certain times, and cannot be disturbed unless it is an absolute emergency. Make sure you are efficient by scheduling blocks rather than starting times, so you have allocated sufficient and workable time to carry out that important task.
This is an interesting tip I learnt, and when you think about it, it makes absolute sense. Spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in activities that produce the best results. This is where you need to prioritise a list of business improvements, so if that list is hugely important to building a bigger and more profitable business, then you should be spending at least 50 percent of your time on that list.
Be realistic with your schedule
Schedule realistic hours in the day. We all I am sure have had continuous moving items on to do lists that get pushed over to the next day and the next and this can be quite demoralising. Interruptions, no matter how organised you are, they are inevitable. So plan to allow for interruptions, but not distractions, although they can be one and the same if you allow certain things to distract you.
The most important 30 minutes
The first 30 minutes of your day should be used to plan your day. I personally never start a day unless I have planned exactly what I am going to do, whether that is using important time between meetings, or itemising a list of simple tasks to implement before I go into meetings. The most important time of your day is the time you take to schedule your time!
Plan a successful outcome
If you are a business person who is making calls to clients regularly, or indeed any calls to do with the business, especially those you seek a specific outcome, take time to plan the outcome of that call. Every business call has a potential successful outcome, so how can you influence that outcome unless you plan for it. Spend just a few minutes planning that outcome!
Do not disturb!
That out of office autoresponder is very useful. If you want to focus on the important work you are doing, then utilise the necessary tools to put up that do not disturb message.
Distractions can come from any direction, and of course some are important enough not to avoid, but most distractions can be avoided. So don’t answer the phone if you don’t need to. Ignore emails that aren’t important at that moment. I tend to speed read the first sentence, and then flag the email for reading at the allocated diarised time for that day if the email isn’t as important as the task I have in hand to complete. Don’t give people your attention just yet unless it’s absolutely crucial. Schedule times to answer those emails and return phone calls. Also ignore those social media feeds unless it is directly connected to what you are doing of course.
It is a well-researched fact that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results, so try to improve the efficiency and relevancy of the 20 percent to create greater results. A good way to view time management is to rename it, Profitable Time Management!