TightShip with Lisa Hall: Managing Time- Our Most Important Asset
Time management issues are one of the biggest things I hear about when I speak to small business owners. Let's face it -- we are ALL so busy trying to fit so much into our days that time has become a VERY precious resource. I often find myself wishing I could have just one more hour in a day. I have managed to learn some very valuable tricks along my way that have proved valuable.
Working a small business can be all-consuming if you let that business manage you. As small business owners, we intensely feel the need to meet with every client when they are available and in so doing, we will give up our weekends, evenings and even important events with our families because we want happy clients. And the truth is, we probably need to make the appointment because we need the money.
One time management skill I try hard to enforce with myself is to treat any appointment I have with myself as if it is with a very important client. I would never cancel an appointment with a very important client. If I absolutely had to, I would immediately reschedule that appointment - right? So why should we treat ourselves any differently? I don't believe I'm alone in my feelings here when I say that if I don't take a little time off to get caught up on home life, spend some time enjoying my favorite activities, and time with those I love, I'm really NOT good to anyone. I LOVE my business and what I do, but time off is an integral part of me being able to be the best I can for my clients.
As a small business owner it's also very important to schedule a little time to work on the details of your business each day and stick to that plan. Each Sunday evening I look at my calendar for the week and I highlight an hour or two each day that I can plan to devote to those duties that support my business and my team. I also make a list of "things to do" each week and those are the items I try and tackle during my hour. It's amazing how much you can catch up on with just one quiet hour a day. Now, some days that means that I have to grab that hour in the early morning or at the end of the day, but it's such an important part of being able to give great service to my clients that it's something I really try to stick to. It allows me time to follow up with clients, keep my new contact information current, help solve problems my team may have, schedule appointments and return phone calls. Allowing myself just one hour a day to focus on these tasks avoids having to spend an entire day on these tasks at the end of the week and prevents it from "spilling" over in to the next week. With all of the mobile devices and email alerts bleeping at us all day long, I also take this hour off from email. If I start looking at emails as they "pop" in, I often find my hour gone before I know it. Actually schedule time in your day to read and respond to emails separate from your business duties. Being disciplined about this helps me manage my time so that I have more "free time" for my family life and home.
As small business owners, time has a way of slipping away if you do not keep that calendar. Make "appointments" with yourself and family and schedule time to work on your business back office. Carefully plan and calendar your time to avoid losing time. After all, time is NOT something we can get back. It is a limited resource.
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