If you want to have sustainable growth in your business, it is imperative that you take the time to hone your time management skills. There are different tools and technologies available online that can help you manage your time, you just need to be willing to put them to use. The most valuable asset we have is time, and if you aren’t being intentional with the time you have, you will find yourself running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Yes, as a business owner you need to be flexible, ready to put out a fire or solve a problem at a moment’s notice, but going into every day without a plan to manage your time is going to leave you chasing your tail all day.
Use time management tools
One of the best tools I started using about two years ago is called Calendly. It allows me to send people who want to “jump on a call” a link to my calendar so they can schedule a time to talk. I’ve set up specific blocks of time on my calendar for calls, so if someone calls me and they aren’t on that schedule, I generally don’t answer. Now, maybe that sounds like I’m being a jerk, but I truly believe that TIME is the most valuable resource on earth. You can’t buy more time, trade for more time, or get lost time back, so I am very intentional with the time that I have. And you should be too. Using a scheduling software like Calendly helps me protect my time.
Are you reactive or proactive?
Most of my coaching clients come to me in what I call a “reactive” state. As business owners, they are constantly reacting to the things happening with clients or employees or any number of other issues that come up daily when you’re building a small business. The problem is when you are constantly in a reactive state like that, you aren’t running your business, your business is running you. And if your business is running you, you don’t own a business, you own a job. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but I’m speaking from experience here.
My goal with my coaching clients at Break Free Academy is to take them from a reactive state to a proactive state. And the way we do that is by becoming intentional with and protecting their time. This means doing things like using scheduling software, using a calendar or planner, and planning ahead. We work on creating a plan for each week with blocks of time for things like employee or client meetings, marketing, content creation, client work, etc. Time management is key when it comes to going from reactive to proactive in your business.
Focus on the tasks that move your business forward
Along with protecting your time, you need to be focusing on activities in your business that are going to produce the best results, the most profit, and more cash flow for your business. I’m talking about the highest level activities that only the CEO can do. Activities that move the entire business forward.
If you want to see a framework for a time study that further breaks down the process of how you decide what to focus on into manageable steps, you can find it in my book, Unf*ck Your Business. That time study will tell you exactly where to focus your time, because the truth is, as a business owner, there ARE tasks that are below your pay grade. These tasks still need to get done, but they do not need to be done by you. Your time is too valuable and needs to be utilized in different ways.
Time management means you live and die by the calendar
My number one rule when it comes to protecting my time is, “live and die by the calendar.” It doesn’t matter if you’re using iCalendar or Google Calendar, so long as you’re using SOMETHING to manage your time. Now trust me, I get it. Service-based businesses are hard to schedule out with any accuracy. Especially for those of us who are still on the road doing hands-on client work. But if you can block out an 8-10 hour window per day for that client work, that’s a pretty big block to get the jobs done. Then you create smaller blocks for things like marketing, sales calls or followups, and any other high-level tasks that will move your business forward.
Another important time management strategy is automation. Things like a CRM system, billing systems, forms for capturing client data, all help reduce the amount of time you’re doing paperwork or chasing down contacts and information for followups or sales calls. Having an email series set up to go out to all your clients or potential clients is a great way to stay in touch and keep your business in the front of their minds. This reduces the number of sales calls you’re going to have to make, which frees up even more of your time.
Once you have the blocks of time created for your business, you’re going to block out time for other things as well. Like spending time with your family, working out, and having some downtime. I can’t tell you how many business owners I’ve talked to who say things like, “I’m doing this for the freedom,” when in reality their business is running their life. Remember what I said, if your business is running you you don’t own a business, you own a job. Successful business owners recognize the need to grow their personal life right alongside their business, and they make taking that time for their families and themselves a priority.