Starting a business is exciting! It all starts with a spark. An idea that will set you apart from the pack and give you freedom from the corporate world.
Working for yourself is something that many dream of, but not everyone is successful. Often times, the least successful entrepreneurs fail because they don’t know how to budget their time. It’s easy to be a task master for someone else, but when you’re working for yourself, it’s much more than checking off tasks and taking direction from someone else.
I truly believe that time management can change the course of your business. But how do you manage time efficiently?
There are plenty of time management books available, some are quite good. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ve already started a book for this month and have a long list of books to read before adding more. Sometimes, I just want someone to tell me what they do and how they do it. Give me instructions and I’m a happy girl!
Today, I want to share with you effective ways to maximize your time.
Rise and shine
I understand that not everyone is a morning person. For me, morning is when I’m at my best. I’m usually the first one up in my house. This allows me time for coffee (priorities, people!) and get in a good mindset to take on the day.
If I were to start my day jumping out of bed, rushing the kids around to get ready for school and find myself winded after breakfast, backpacks and car lines, I would continue the scattered feeling all day. My head and my heart cannot take it!
Start with waking up 30 minutes earlier and slowly increase over time. I truly believe you will find that it sets a nice, steady pace for your day.
Block your time
Time blocking is one of my favorite tricks. For example, I no longer schedule meetings on Mondays. Why? Because Monday morning when I walk into my office, I need to catch up on emails that have come in over the weekend and prep for meetings I have the following day.
Making this small change has revolutionized my business.
If you’re working for yourself and maintaining clients, time blocking will be your lifesaver! On my calendar, I block specific time for specific projects. In The 90 Day Year, Todd Herman reminded me that my brain is not designed for multi-tasking. We often pride ourselves with this skill. However, we are not hardwired to constantly context switch. I’m much for efficient throughout my day when I’m working on specific tasks.
Don’t let projects get in the way
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re working on a big project, but have to maintain the small tasks that consume your every day. How do you manage that?
I sat in a class several years ago and the instructor pulled out a clear jar and rocks, 2 big rocks and several handfuls of pebbles. The large rocks represented big tasks, small pebbles represented small tasks. He first added the small pebbles and wouldn’t you know it, the large rocks didn’t fit into the jar. He emptied the jar and tried a second, more successful strategy. When the instructor added the large rocks first and then poured the small pebbles on top and shook the jar a bit, everything fit!
What is the moral of the illustration? Take time to work on the big, overwhelming tasks first. This is another opportunity for time blocking. Block two hours to work on your course content. This allows time for you to “get in the zone”. Once you’ve hit the two hour mark, stop what you’re doing and work on the little things in your business. You’ll get much better results than feeling as though you’re constantly putting fires out all day long. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Monday is coming
It’s no secret that Monday is coming. To be honest, I love Mondays! It’s a new week. A clean slate. A fresh start. I’ve found that when I take time on Friday afternoon to look over my agenda for Monday and the following week, I’m not shocked when I open my calendar on Monday morning.
Write down your goals for the week
As you’re reviewing your agenda for the following week, take time to write down your goals for the week. Don’t worry about big lofty goals like, losing 10 pounds or write 9 chapters in your new book. Make them small goals and write them where you can see them.
Perhaps your goals look like this:
- Eat Healthy
- Workout 3 times
- Write 3 blog posts
- Schedule 4 sales calls
This list will look different to everyone. Regardless of your goals, write them down. You’re more likely to achieve the goals you write down.
Stick to the plan
It’s tempting to walk into your office Monday morning and scrap the whole plan. First of all, adaptability is #34 on my Strengths Finder Assessment, so it’s highly unlikely that I wipe out a plan, but for others that live for change, it happens more often than my unadaptable heart would like to admit! Avoid the urge to start from square one and stick to the plan.
When you’re building your business, you want to be everything and everywhere for everyone. I’m here to tell you that is just isn’t possible. As your business grows, you’ll receive several offers per week asking for a coffee meeting or an opportunity to “pick your brain”.
Not every invitation is bad, but not every invitation is good. If you feel in your gut that it isn’t the right time for you, it’s okay to say “No”. It isn’t easy, especially if you’re a people pleaser, but for your sanity, you may have to decline every now and then.
Trust me when I say that the invitee will understand. If they don’t extend grace, you probably don’t need them in your life and business anyway.
It’s been said that it takes 21 days to make a habit. Give yourself this little challenge of sticking to these principles for one month. If you hate it, then you can go back to your old ways, but my prediction is that you will begin to feel the pressure lift when you’re strategic with your day.