As a business owner, the key to time management is to build your personal and business life around your individual needs and desired outcomes through planned and measured activities. Time management is, in fact, the ultimate in self- improvement because it is the foundation for achieving your goals in every aspect of your life.
With the current economic crisis, running a business is getting tougher. I often hear flustered business owners say things like, “I don’t have enough time to get everything done,” and “How do I become more efficient at time management?”
Time is a limited resource, and it cannot be managed. What you CAN manage are the activities that take place over time by defining the desired outcomes and then taking a course of action to reach these goals.
As a business owner, the process of determining which activities you should be focusing on begins with goal setting. This helps to document your personal and business roadmap in levels of detail that represent periods of time.
The bigger picture will be visionary including broad strategies to achieve the vision over a three to five-year period. The next level of goal-setting will be for the upcoming 12 months and this will require documenting specific S.M.A.R.T goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Here are seven suggestions to apply personal discipline within the context of achieving better management of business operations and the more effective utilization of your personal time:
Delegate: Delegate activities to the staff with the appropriate skills. Manage this approach through an organizational structure and individual Positional Agreements appropriate to the size of the organization.
Prioritize: Prioritize your daily work by reviewing the next day’s important activities in a ‘to do list’ at the end of each day. You can maximize personal productivity by focusing on this list the next day. And don’t do what’s not on the list – resist the urge to be distracted and to do things that you enjoy more.
Handle each piece of paper only once and never more than twice: Don’t set aside anything without taking action.
Clean up: Clean up your desk and office shelves once per month. Categorize everything into four groups: ‘Do it’, ‘Delegate it’, ‘Defer it’, and ‘Dump it”. Before getting rid of anything, just ask the question, “What is the worst that can happen if the item was gone?” If the answer is “nothing,” then dump it.
Put personal interruptions on hold: Put your calls and personal interruptions on hold for one hour, two hours, or whatever is appropriate to your task at hand. It is amazing how much work that can be achieved by using this simple technique and not being distracted by a phone call or personal interruption – and most of these potential interruptions will not meet the definition of ‘important’.
Learn to say “No”: This may be the most effective way to maximize your personal utilization of time and is often the hardest word to use in business. Make sure that if you don’t say “No,” it is because the activity is important in the context of your own role in the business.
Make sure you set aside personal relaxation time during every workday: Don’t work during lunch. It is neither nutritional nor noble to skip important stress-relieving time or important energy input. Take vacations, particularly mini-vacations. The harder you work, the more you need to balance your leisure and exercise time.
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