Do You Run Out of Time?

white clocks with black numbers, black minute hour hands and red second hand different times on them

Do You Run Out of Time?

Managing your time effectively is one of the toughest skills in running a business. The phone rings, a team member needs a chat and the best laid plans go to pot.  Being the boss means that you will be juggling many roles: marketing, sales, financials, delivering your products/services, HR, IT and of course developing your business strategy.

When I talk to business owners about working together the initial concern is often I don’t have the time, so that is the first thing we work on. There are lots of phrases that I am sure you have heard: work on your business not just in your business, your business is either growing or dying. It is really important to carve out time in your week to focus on developing your business, this means stepping back from the day to day activity and developing plans and implementing them.

To release time to work on your business, (ideally 3-5 hours per week), the first step is to be clear on how you are using your time at the moment. A simple time study run for a couple of weeks does the trick. Make sure that you track your time throughout the day; leaving it to the end of the day and guessing what you spent your time doing doesn’t work.

One you have your time study you can map out which are the tasks that have to be you – utilising your skills and knowledge. The tasks that are more basic are the ones that can be done by someone else. If you haven’t got a team you could consider getting someone in for a few hours a week; don’t panic it doesn’t have to be an employee, more and more people are going self-employed.

Here are a few tips for delegating effectively:

  • Clarity of the tasks that need completing
  • Identify the skills and knowledge required
  • Detail out the process, timings and acceptable standards
  • Delegate don’t abdicate

A common reason for Business Owners not delegating is that no one can do it better than them; the problem with that is there are so many things that need doing you really will ‘run out of time’. Planning out what needs delegating and how it will work sets you up for success.

When delegating:

1. Explain why the task has been delegated to them: utilising their skills, opportunity to develop them – rather than here’s a job for you as I don’t have time
2. Detail what needs doing
3. Why it is important
4. What it looks like when it is done well/badly
5. How it should be completed
6. Timescales
7. Check progress

A useful tool is to create yourself a default diary. Plan out time for the important activities that need completing through the week/month. Use your online calendar to out in recurring time slots for those activities. For example:

  • Times for email first thing, mid-day and afternoon
  • Set out afternoons or certain days for being out if the office with clients/prospects
  • Internal meetings – checking progress of works
  • On the business time
  • Sales and marketing
  • Financials
  • Lunches – time away will improve your focus

Running out of time and juggling roles can leave you with a lot of information running through your head which can result in anxiety and sleepless nights. An action list can really help.

  • At the end of each day make a list of everything that needs doing
    • Your brain has a reticular activating system, RAS, there is so much information being fired at is that it would be overwhelming to let all of it in, the RAS filters the data so we can focus on what is important. By writing the task the night before the filter can get to work and help you work out priorities and how to complete the task.
    • You may have heard of a study technique of listening to recordings before you go to sleep – that is to help your RAS.
  • Write the list by hand;
    • There are over 3000 touch receptors in each fingertip; the process of writing the tasks will help programme your brain to get them done.
    • If you create a task list on a computer all you have to do to push that task back is change a date. I guarantee you if you have to write it out each day then at some point you will decide to just get it done, delegate it or remove it.
    • I use a spiral note book – only costs a few pounds, there is a space to prioritise, to tick it off when completed and I can go back and check previous weeks
  • In the morning run through the list and prioritise
    • Unless you are very skilled you will be writing your action list in the order it comes in to your head, not the order of importance
    • If you are a creative person use colour to prioritise, if you are a logic person then use numbers or high, medium, low

Put timescales against the tasks

Map it in to your diary

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought, the next time you get to the end of the day and run out of time step back and spend 5 minutes thinking what you could have done differently and stake control of your time.

If you want more details please get in touch lucycameron@actioncoach.com or come along as my guest on the 12th December 07:00 – 08:30 at the Mercure Hotel in Tunbridge Wells.

I run business skills workshops every 2 weeks, this is a low-cost programme for anyone looking to grow their business. Why not come and give it a try!

Have a successful week