“Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.”
―James Clear, Atomic Habits
Time-management = SELF-management
The most ubiquitous challenge that business owners face in the modern world is choosing how to spend your time most effectively.
We are constantly getting pulled in 1,000 directions, and now more than ever, there are endless shiny objects and distractions that can suck up our time.
The real challenge is that TIME management is really SELF-management…
Most business owners allocate this most precious resource in a way that forces you to work 50, 60 or even 80 hours a week to accomplish everything that you want to, and even then, you are left feeling like you are constantly behind.
The good news is that you get to CHOOSE how to spend your time. If managed properly, you can take control of your time and your business, and carve out more and more time for you to spend how you want to, not how you have to.
Where do I start?
The first step is understanding where you are spending your time.
If you are already tracking your time, this is fairly easy. Take a look at your last week or two and categorize your time spent into the four categories outlined below.
If you don’t have this information, set a timer to go off every 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, jot down how you spent those 30 minutes. At the end of each day, categorize all of your tasks into the four categories.
**Yes, this may be an extremely tedious process for you… but it will allow to fully understand what you are doing now and allow you to make informed decisions about how to change your habits.**
Where should I be spending my time?
If you are serious about spending your time most effectively, aim to have your time allocated in the following manner:
Not Urgent and Important (20%)
This is the heart and soul of sustainable business growth.
If you take a hard look at how much time you are spending on this, you will most likely find that you are not spending close to 20% of your time on things like:
- Working ON the business
- Creating systems that can be operated by lower-level employees
These are the tasks that are on your to-do list but you rarely get to.
They are CRITICAL to helping your business continue to grow, and if you do not carve time out for them, you will find yourself scrambling to get them done when they become urgent, or you will fail to implement them and your business will remain stagnant.
Urgent and Important (60%)
Until you have fully systematized your business, most of your time will be spent working IN your business:
- Deadline driven tasks
- Day-to-day CEO operational obligations (Employee meetings, closing new business etc.)
The key here is to really take a hard look at what truly needs your attention.
If these tasks are consistent and repeatable, think about how you can create a system that your employees can follow to take more responsibility and work on delegating it.
Urgent & Not Important (10%)
Examples of these are:
- Your email inbox
- Busy work
- Tasks getting delegated up rather than down to other employees
Email is probably the most difficult and prevalent challenge here.
Your email inbox is someone else’s to-do list for you. Yes, some emails need to be responded to promptly, but if you take an honest inventory of what’s in your inbox, most of it can wait.
Setting boundaries during focused time is very important for productivity and focus.
You can set an auto-reply on your email and phone that says “I am away from my desk and will be replying to emails between 3 and 4 this afternoon. If this is an emergency contact XZY”.
The same goes for your office time. If you have an open-door policy, your employees will constantly be distracting you.
Not Urgent & Not Important (10%)
Simply put, these are:
- Time Wasters
- Getting sucked into social media, cat videos, games on your phone etc.
We’re human. We all get distracted. However, there’s a difference between spending 10-15 minutes to unplug during the day and getting sucked into the YouTube vortex for 45 minutes then taking another 30 to get refocused.
Be mindful and intentional about your distracted time.
Remind yourself that this is not what’s going to help you to achieve your goals or create the life or business that will give you the true freedom that you desire.
Make it easy to focus. Close tabs on your browser and turn off notifications.
Changing your habits and how you spend your time is extremely challenging, so don’t do it alone.
Leverage your employees and your inner circle to help hold you accountable to your goals.
Make it public. The more people you tell you are going to do something, the more likely you are to actually do it.
So many business owners find themselves on a never-ending hamster wheel of feeling stressed, over-worked and wondering how long this they could possibly keep doing this before burning out.
Your journey to SELF-mastery starts here!
- Audit your time
o If you keep an accurate accounting of your time, look back and categorize your last 1-2 weeks.
o If you are not sure, set a 30 min timer for a week and gather that information
- Find accountability partners and make it public!