When running a business, having the time to accomplish everything you need to attend to (or think you do) is a major issue. Contracts, personnel issues, seeking new business, financial reports, and meetings are just a few items on your agenda. And while email and smartphones can streamline communication, they have mainly served to exacerbate the issue of everyone wanting an answer from you today or right now.
To help you control your time, accomplish more than you planned, and give you more free time to enjoy participating in activities outside of the office, try these tips:
- When do you do your best thinking? When are you most creative? Whether it’s first thing in the morning or the last two hours of the day, block out that time in your calendar, calling it “My Time.” This is reserved for you to work on whatever you need to attend to.
- Every evening before you leave work, make a list of 5-10 things you want to accomplish the following day. Then check off the items you can delegate. In the morning, delegate those tasks and set firm completion dates for follow-up.
- Do you have a line of people at your door all day? Have people send you a request for an appointment of 30 minutes tops. Tell them to bring all the items they want to discuss with you and review the items in one sitting. Set firm next steps or settle the issue then. Be sure to have them do the follow-up. Do not allow them to delegate that to you.
- Email, texts, and smartphones are business tools. Don’t let them control your life. Set time aside in the morning and mid-afternoon to a) delegate all emails that you do not absolutely have to respond to, b) respond to the emails you must attend to, c) return phone calls, and d) respond to text messages.
- Many people dislike meetings, but much can be accomplished in a meeting. Typically, having all the parties in one room to hash things out is very beneficial. Meetings must have an agenda. If there is no agenda, walk out. Discuss and settle the items on the agenda or set follow-up tasks for those issues that carry forward to the next meeting. A meeting should be one hour, max. Be sure someone sends out brief minutes of the meeting.
- Use a personal assistant to set meetings, schedule phone calls, and handle other tasks that you don’t need to be involved in.
- Take a clean notepad and for two weeks write down everything you do. At the end of each week review the list and check off what you could/should have delegated and about how much time you spent on that topic. In the future, delegate tasks. Repeat this exercise every three months or so. Most people find that through delegation they can free up to 500 or more hours annually.
- Make a list of the outside activities you enjoy and book time to enjoy them.
If you or someone you know is facing the challenges of never having enough time, please give me a call at 603-620-7500 or write to email@example.com.
Next issue’s topic: Do you have leaders or followers on your team?