Time is the Most Precious Commodity
Regardless of your industry, how small or large your business is, or how many staff members you have to assist you, everyone agrees there is not enough time in the day to complete your day’s tasks. Time is the most precious commodity for any business owner, but even more scarce for small business owners, whose budget may not allow for the staff needed to run and market your business.
So what are some tips that you can use to help manage your time more efficiently to get the most important tasks completed each day? Here’s some tried and true advice from famous innovators and how it can be applied to efficient time management:
1. “Early to rise, early to bed makes us healthy, wealthy and wise.” (Benjamin Franklin) If you are in the habit of staying up late, missing out on the recommended eight hours of sleep, you’re less likely to be positive and enthusiastic about your work day and the people you meet. You will also be more likely to get distracted, daydream or lose focus, resulting in wasted time and less than quality results when providing your services. If you get to bed earlier, and wake earlier, you can use those early morning hours to plan and prepare for your day ahead.
2. “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail”. (Alan Lakein) Plan your day before you start it. Ask yourself, what is a priority today? What three items must I get done today? Be realistic, if you start your day with a list of more than dozen items, its very unlikely you’ll get them all completed – much less started, and you’ll start your day feeling overwhelmed. When you’re trying to rush through a crowded to-do list, you’ll feel less creative and your end-product will suffer.
3. “The Art of Communication is the Language of Leadership”. (James Humes) Want to be a leader in your field or industry? Make time to communicate to your prospects, clients, colleagues and team members each day. Take an hour each day going through voicemails, emails and social media posts and comments. By replying to comments, posts, emails and voicemails, you are showing that you not only talk but you take time to listen and respond effectively.
4. “Concentration is the Secret of Strength” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) How do you maintain focus when you’re consistently being interrupted by staff questions, phone calls, emails, social media notifications, even unscheduled drop-ins at your office or store? Worse yet, every interruptions takes an average of 23 minutes to return to your previous state of focus.
“Those interruptions, on average, happen every 12 minutes and 40 seconds, and are usually 10-15 minutes. Factor in that it takes between 15-26 minutes to regain your focus and sense of workflow, and how much time do you end up actually working? Not much.” – FileVine
What can you do to maintain your focus? Silence the phone, turn off social media, close your email program, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and block off time on your schedule for up to two hours per day to focus on your productive work. After your allotted time is up, then you can get back to managing questions and issues.
5. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” (unknown) It may sound contradictory to advise taking time each day to play or taking a break but its essential to stay productive, creative and positive. If you continue to push yourself through physical and mental exhaustion, your end-product will fare badly, you’ll make more mistakes and you will tend to be cranky and short-tempered. Take time each day to rest, meditate and enjoy the simple things … a sunny day, the sounds of nature, even the rhythm of the rain. When you return to the office, you’ll be refreshed and ready for the next challenge.
Author, Louisa May Alcott reinforces this idea more eloquently, ““Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.”
6. “Worrying does not empty today of its troubles, it exhausts tomorrow of it strength.” (Corrie Ten Boom) There is nothing that is more of a time-waster than the process of worrying about what might happen. A measure of worry is an unavoidable facet of being a business owner due to the risks you take each day, but if you can’t control your anxiety to the point you’re losing sleep, having physical symptoms or feeling mental paralysis, then you need to find a way to find calm. Instead of worrying about what could go wrong, work towards what can go right. Be positive and be realistic that things will and can go wrong, but have confidence that you can handle any mishaps that come along.
“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.” (Van Wilder)
Time Management is more of a frame of mind, rather than how you plan your day. Its an attitude, its loving what you do and wanting to make it better, and its trying to squeeze as many hours of productivity into your day without squeezing out the joys of solitude, family, friends and calm out with it. Enjoy and make the most of your day!