Where are you losing your day?
One of the most common themes in small business owners is “busy.” I speak to men and women who own companies all the time and inevitably, they are all “busy, busy, busy!”
…But is that really true?
Here’s an exercise I read about many years ago that has really helped me focus on how I use my time. It might seem simple, but like many things that are “simple,” the results can be incredibly complex – but they can give you valuable insight into how you spend your days and your time.
It’s incredibly easy to set up – you only need a clean sheet or three of paper and your phone. Set the timer on your phone to go off every 15-20 minutes, then document what you were doing when the timer goes off.
If you were on Facebook, write it down. If you were getting another cup of coffee, write it down. On a phone call with your significant other? You guessed it – write it down!
Do this for at least a few days, and then, document the tasks. If, for example, you were doing a sales call, then that would be a tactical job.
Writing employee schedules would be a managerial task.
Working on your business growth plan for 2022 would be a task that an entrepreneur would be expected to be doing.
…And those are the only three categories! Tactical, Managerial, or Entrepreneurial.
I’ll bet you’ll find that the tactical tasks of your day-to-day take up nearly 70 percent of your time, while managerial accounts for another 20%. I’d be shocked if you spend more than 10% of your time doing things that support your entrepreneurial growth.
At the same time, you’ll also find you’re doing a LOT of other things besides those – going to Starbucks, playing on Facebook, watching videos of kittens. Those? Well, those need to go away. You wouldn’t allow an employee to waste time like that, why would you tolerate it from yourself?
Here’s the really critical thing this exercise will reveal: why you’re so “busy.”
You’re probably wasting time! Imagine if you actually put in the time to grow your company!
I’m not going to beat you up, but when I’ve suggested this exercise to people and they’ve actually done it and been honest with themselves, ultimately, they’ve come to realize why they can get so little accomplished in their days or weeks.
So the next step is to create some rules…
- Use the phone ONLY for interacting with clients or prospects
- No social media unless it is for posting an advertisement (and this really should be handled by a VA, anyway…)
- Check emails twice a day – real emergencies are communicated by phone
- Get to work (and leave work) at the same time every day
- Quit “working” on weekends – they end up bringing bad habits into the office on weekdays
- Set specific times each week for each category of work (entrepreneurial, managerial, and tactical)
- Don’t make exceptions unless there’s money to be made by changing your schedule
Now, these all seem easy, and maybe even simple, but the sheer numbers of business owners whom I see not doing them is amazing … yet, when you add up all the time you might have mismanaged during the week, you find whole DAYS of time that wasn’t accounted for – it was simply wasted.
Go ahead, reclaim efficiency and do this little exercise. Then, when you’re done, use the things you’ve learned to change how you work and to make the most of the time you have in the office.
I’ll bet it’s going to end up not only saving you time, it’s going to make you money – and that’s one great reason to do it!
All the best-
Ted Smith CPA