In today’s hectic world, one of the biggest challenges that I hear raised by business owners is that ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’. And while it might feel like that sometimes, the truth is you could add an extra 10 hours to the day and it still wouldn’t feel like enough. Because the problem was never not having enough time. The problem was always how effectively you use that time to achieve everything you need to. Now, I’m not going to give you a long list of tips that tell you how to shave some time off your normal tasks and feel like you’ve achieved more somehow. Instead I want to give you some advice that I learned the hard way, advice that will help you prioritise what’s important and help you manage your time more effectively.
Plan The Big Picture
The major pitfall business owners tend to fall into is having a long list of things they need to do in their head, but no concrete plan on how they will get it all done. Going into a day in business without a plan for what you need to do is like trying to find your way to a new town without looking at where it is – you’re going to get very lost very quickly!
So instead of walking blindly into each day, set aside some time to really plan your journey. Start out with writing out your 5-year plan. Where do you want your business to be 5 years from now, and what are the steps to get it there. Break that down into a 3-year plan (which is, as you would expect, where you want to be in 3 years), and then finally a 90-day plan that will help you really focus on what your priorities should be. You can then use that plan to guide you through your day to day tasks and help identify what is a good use of your time.
Draw In The Details
I might sound like a broken record now, but planning is the best way for you to make real progress in growing your business. When you have an outlined plan for the next 90-days, you should use it to identify some solid, achievable goals for that time. This is one of the wonderful tools that the ActionCOACH system provides, and it really is an incredibly valuable one.
For business owners who are looking to grow and expand their businesses, your goals may include increasing sales in a particular area in that quarter, opening up a new office or the appointment of a new member of staff. They should not be ‘make more money’ – this is a goal for every business in the world and not something you should be using to pad out your plan! Once you have identified around 5 goals, allocate ownership of each goal to one person. More specifically, someone who isn’t you. For each goal, have a ‘what, when and who’ written breakdown, agree milestones and review dates for progress, as well as completion date. With this structure in place, everyone involved knows what they need to do by when, and you are clear on what the result for your business will be.
Follow Everything Up
All of this sounds great, but if you don’t follow up on all of those goals you might as well spend your time twiddling your thumbs and playing virtual golf. And while that might sound great, it’s not going to do your business any good. As a leader and manager, your job is to keep on top of everyone who you have allocated tasks to assess their progress. It isn’t your job isn’t to be the one doing all of these tasks – that’s called working IN your business. To achieve significant growth, you need to be spending some time every week working ON your business instead. So, while you are getting on with your own daily task list, make sure you diarise a recurring weekly meeting with key team members to stay updated on the progress of those business goals.
While this approach handles the bigger picture of growing your business, it can also be useful to help you plan out every day of your week. If you don’t have a clear roadmap of where your business is going and the things you need to do to get there, almost every task becomes a waste. This is because you are effectively giving your time away when it’s not a move forward towards your ultimate goal – a step on the yellow brick road. Instead, look at the way you work now, and ask yourself, am I working towards one of my goals by doing this, or am I stealing my own time?
No, you’re not allowed to lie to yourself, or hide behind your screen and pretend it’s not true. If the answer is the latter, you would benefit from support that will enable new working practices into your business. I’ve worked with medium and large businesses for over 20 years, helping them work out where they want to be and giving them the tools, guidance and support to get there based on my own first-hand experience and knowledge.
For more information about how I could help you refocus your business and give you back the gift of time, just get in touch.