Every business owner knows they must manage their time when it comes to appointments, production schedules and deadlines. The difference between success and failure – profit, break-even or loss – can hang on how we spend the precious finite resource that is our time.
But just like cleaning our teeth, how well we do it can vary. A cursory ten-second sweep around the inside of your mouth with a toothbrush could technically be called cleaning your teeth, but what have you missed? As your dentist will tell you, there’s always room for improvement.
As the Time Lord, my aim is to give you some expert tips to help you operate at optimum. Here goes…
Plan your day to include gaps that allow for interruptions or a crisis. If these show up, you will be prepared to handle them. Without space in your day, you can become flustered, annoyed or panicky. This is when mistakes happen – you can waste precious time when you need to do things over or go into damage control with a client. Plus, it can make you a very unpleasant boss to be around. Protect your workplace morale. It can have an impact on your staff’s productivity.
If you have one of those golden days in business where nothing unexpected happens, you will have built-in time to develop that new project you’ve been meaning to start or put your feet up to rest, think, create.
Some people don’t have a diary at all – they try to keep it all in their head. Some have a diary but all it does is collect dust on the desk. Some use a diary, but so inconsistently that it gives a false sense of security because not every appointment or event is recorded in it.
Setting up and maintaining a diary system is a commitment of effort and time, but the rewards are worth it. You will free up mental space, gain a sense of control, and increase your energy and motivation. You can run your whole life, with all its different domains and areas of responsibility, out of a diary system.
A diary can be as simple or complex as you like. It can be paper-based or app-based. Even a spiral-bound notebook or a loose-leaf binder is okay. You can even download a template and design your own. Experiment. Have fun with it.
As an SME owner, you know that if you do all the tasks and responsibilities yourself, they will be done right. But you will get worn out, and your business will struggle to grow. Delegation produces leverage – you can double or triple your productivity.
Successful delegation requires assigning the right task to the right person, being clear in your instructions, and following up for quality control and completion. Use the time and energy freed up to do the tasks you do best and the things only you can do. It might be designing new products, creating new clients or strengthening relationships with your key stakeholders.
Add these new techniques, one at a time. Start by using toothpaste. Move on to brushing for longer. Incorporate mouthwash. Then start flossing. Just like cleaning your teeth, learning and applying new time-management tools is an investment in the long-term health of your business.
Les Watson, The Time Lord, www.getmoretime.com.au