Time Management for Entrepreneurs
As the New Year approaches, I felt it appropriate to start the New Year off by addressing one of the biggest challenges that face most of us, Time Management.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often struggle with time management. It is easy to fall into the trap if doing lots of things yourself, instead of finding or delegating various tasks. Often when a task is delegated, it is a task that should not have been delegated. For the purpose of this advice column, let us first deal with a simple review of some of the issues surrounding time management. Delegation and tasks will be the subject another time.
Firstly take the time to list out the various tasks daily, weekly and monthly. Identify those tasks that require your skills, and note those that honestly can be performed by others. For example, small-business owners waste their time on what I call $10 an hour work, like running to get office supplies. Meanwhile, they forgo the activities that earn $1,000 an hour, such as sending the right email to the right person, or negotiating a client contract, or convincing a client to do more business with you.
Entrepreneurs don’t realize the same 80/20 principle, the adage that 20 percent of customers equal 80 percent of sales, applies to every dimension of business, including time management.
We need to be careful, our “can do” attitude generally results in the “I can do it myself” which then falls into the “I am a martyr complex”. OK we may be competent to do that job, yet spending the next 9 hours trying to extract a virus from your computer or change the oil in your car is not a good use of your time. I understand that you also may have to do everything when you start out, but realize that while you’re doing a $10 or $20 per hour job, you’re not doing your No. 1 job, which is getting and keeping customers. That job may pay $100 to $1000 per hour.
Many small businesses have been killed by these little jobs. I often hear how busy they are, yet their business is floundering. Remember that being “busy” does not build a successful company, nor does it pay the bills.
So what are some simple things you can do right now to help you improve your time management?
First, create a Daily, weekly and monthly task list. In doing so, identify those $10 hour tasks. Once this is done, then focus on the $10 hour items and work to get rid of them – permanently by asking yourself “Can it be inexpensively outsourced?” These jobs are easily outsourced, to competent personnel. Some examples are, maid service, personal assistant – emails, schedules, voice mail etc, bookkeeping services
Next, focus on your most productive time slot. Everybody has a time slot in their day when they do their finest work. Ernest Hemingway wrote first thing in the morning. Winston Churchill, was a night owl.
What about down time? It is important to relax. Don’t feel guilty about relaxing. The most productive people are a little lazy. If there are really only a few hours a day in which you do $100 to $1,000-an-hour work, does it really matter if you take a break, for a number of hours? Downtime gives you the mental space you need to think. You can’t be a great strategist when you’re hustling from morning ’til night. Feed your brain instead, so you’re sharp when you’re negotiating the next sales contract.
Institute these simple changes. You will be amazed by the impact it will have on not only your day, but also you will be able to better impact on a consistent bases those very productive hours, Then you will reap the true rewards of being an entrepreneur.
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