How To Get Productive by Managing Your Time More Effectively
When the subject of time management comes up, things like time logs, task lists, time management applications and “getting things done” programs typically come to mind. However, getting busy does not necessarily equate getting productive.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often waste their time on what I like to call “soldier” work; tasks like running errands, answering calls, handling customer support, or even housekeeping (especially for those who are working from a home office).
Meanwhile, they sacrifice the activities that truly equate production, such as sending the right email to the right person, or negotiating a profitable contract, or nurturing client relationships so that they create more business.
Every good business needs leaders and soldiers. If you are too busy doing all the soldiering, you will find that you have little time for the leadership which can take your company to the next level.
Entrepreneurs are extremely apt to rationalize, telling themselves that they can get it done faster or better, or that it will take to long to delegate because they have to give direction anyway.
Granted, we probably can do it faster and it’s true, we will need to give direction- initially anyway. The reality is, though, that while you are busy doing a job that might cost $10 or $15 an hour to outsource, you could doing the work that will earn $250 or even $1000 an hour.
Many a promising business has been squashed by those little jobs. Here are 4 ways to stop working, and get back to making money.
1. Hire a housekeeper.
Wait. What? Aren’t we talking about business here? Yes, we are; and, hiring a housekeeper to handle the business of managing your personal life will let you get back to the business of running your business; that hour or two you spend each day making the bed, washing the dishes, doing laundry or preparing a meal could be spent producing. There are many people out there who want and need the job of keeping your household running smoothly and they will be happy do to it for $10 or $15 an hour; sometimes less depending on where you are.
2. Hire an assistant.
Virtual or in-house, it doesn’t really matter but for a small hourly fee, you could hire someone else to do your research for you, triage your emails and calls, make appointments, write correspondence, post to blogs or social media; really, the possibilities are endless. Task Rabbits or Craig’s List are a great place to start if you want someone local. If a virtual assistant will serve, check out ODesk or Freelanced or any number of other options online. Type in “virtual assistant”- you’ll be presented with countless possibilities.
3. Work when you are most productive.
There are dozens of experts out there who will tell you what time of day is the best time of day to work. Many of them will say it’s early in the morning. And, that is true for a lot of people. But it’s not necessarily true for you. One of the beautiful things about being an entrepreneur is that (if successful) we get to work when we want, where we want, how we want and with whom we want. Take the time to note your energy and productivity levels throughout the day and take advantage of that. If you are at your best at 3am, then by all means you should work at 3am; after all, if you’re managing your time well, there will be someone else to deal with “normal business hour” phone calls and emails.
4. Avoid the meeting suck.
If you must have meetings, set firm start and finish boundaries by saying what time you are available and what time you will need to wrap up. Then, when you do get into a meeting, pay attention to the time and ten minutes before the meeting is set to close, gently remind the other party that you’ve got 10 minutes before you’ve got to get on another call (or, fill in the blank) and ask if there is anything further they would like to touch upon before you say goodbye.
As an entrepreneur, time can be one of your most valuable assets. Effective time management doesn’t mean lists and non-stop work from dusk till dawn; it means utilizing your time in the most productive way possible.