Time Management Strategies for Busy Business Owners

Time Management Strategies for Busy Business Owners

We all want more time! However, we cannot have it – as our time is limited to each 24 hour period. But for busy business owners, these time management strategies will help get you though the day!

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Today, we’re talking time management, taking a sidestep from the usual Internet business side of things that I deal with and looking at just business side of things. Now, of course, time management, as you get busier or as you want to get busier, is an incredibly important part of the overall business process, not just for yourself, but also for those that you work with managing projects, getting things done, and getting them out to the world.

So what I did, as an experiment, rather than just go off my own notes, which I’ll share in a moment, but as an experiment, went to Facebook, went to one of the business groups I’m involved with and said, “Tell me, folks, what is it that you like? What is it that you do? Give me your best tips on time management.” And they came back with a fantastic list of options, some of which I’m going to go through right now and give you my thoughts, my feedback on those different options. Now, there were way too many for me to be able to go through all of them. Just picking a couple.

For example, one of the first replies, to use software to log your hours, to look at what it is that you’re actually doing, and this is a wonderful idea, whether you use software or perhaps even just pen and paper — I did this as an experiment as part of it last week — even if you just write it down by hand. But before you even begin the time management process, you need to look at what it is that you are doing and ask the question: “What could someone else do for you?

Now, for a lot of us, as solo entrepreneurs particularly when we’re getting started, we feel we have to do absolutely everything. Maybe you do. But these days, with more and more flexible options, with outsourcing to overseas, different price points, different hourly rates, if you can find someone who’s just magical at a particular thing and take that burden from yourself, that is certainly important for running the business. And this comment here, whether you use software or in my case just doing it by paper, is a great way to have a look at what you’re doing and then look for ways to improve them.

Now here’s another one that I’ve also done myself, and that is to ask myself this question. “What is the most important thing you must do today?” Now, that’s a great question to ask yourself at the beginning of every day, perhaps at the beginning of every week. What’s the most important thing I must do this week? The beginning of the month, what’s the most important thing I must do this month? I often ask myself the question, “What is the best use of my time right now?” Because sometimes I look at everything I got on, and it is overwhelming and I have to just calm myself and ask, “What is the best use of my time right now?Great idea. Something you can do.

I’ve just got to go hands up to one person who replied to my question, “What are your time management tips?” They replied, “Well, delegation, Paul, is obviously one of yours.” Yeah, okay. Hey, it’s a great time management tip.

Yes, and here’s an interesting one, work in 17 minute intervals. I like that, 17 minutes. Now, they haven’t given much more information here. Set the timer, off you go, 17 minutes. But what could we do with that? You see, I liked that, 20 minute blocks. Seventeen minutes, bang, bang, bang, bang. Get everything done. Get up, walk around for three minutes. Take a break. Breathe in, stretch, move. Come back, 17 more minutes, bang, bang, bang, bang. Working in 20 minute blocks is a fantastic way to get stuff done and keep the mind fresh.

I so wish I could go through all of these. Have a look at this one. Someone here writes, grab an A4 sheet, piece of paper drawn into grid boxes. Write Monday to Sunday across the top, 6 AM to 10 PM down the left-hand side, and then write in “prioritize those important tasks.” Listen to this. “A multimillionaire showed this tool to me many, many years ago, claimed that’s what it was that made them successful.” Now, I’m going to just take my hats off for a moment there and go I can see some value in that, because a lot of us, I make this mistake. I have my primary to-do list. I have my other list here on the computer. But I haven’t blocked that out hour by hour. How long is it going to take me to do each of these things? It could take me more than the day. All of a sudden, I’m a day or three behind. After two weeks of business, I’m a month behind because I haven’t blocked it out in the day. Again, whether you do that on paper or whether you do that with some digital thing to book it in, I like that, that’s a really good tip.

And there are some other magical ones here as well. Don’t stop to comment on posts for people who are looking for help. Look, you’ve got to love these ones. These are always there.

Another, “Oh my goodness, I need this. Mine doesn’t even exist at the moment and I’m struggling.” It happens.

Another great tip, batching rules. Putting jobs together, maybe re-purposing things. Can you do one thing and have multiple use out of it? I’m guessing that’s what that suggestion is.

And I think I might finish with this one before I just show you mine. This is what I have to remind myself. Eat your frogs first. Reduce your frogs on an ongoing basis. Oh, yeah. Now, I’m digging into my memory banks here. I believe it was Brian Tracy who first coined the phrase — forgive me if I’m wrong — about eating your frogs first when it comes to time management.

What does that mean? Get the ugly shit done straightaway. Get the things that you don’t want to be doing done straightaway. Get in there, do them, the difficult tasks straightaway. Then when you’re tired, as the day gets long, well, we’ve just got the easy things to do. So much nicer at the end of the day. But for most of us, look where I’m pointing, for most of us, we just don’t like doing those difficult things first. We try and get the little jobs out of the way. Well, you can’t always do that.

Let me wrap this up by just sharing with you some of the systems that I use. First things first. I do use an online CRM. I use Salesforce, where all of my client contacts go into the e-mails, notes, jobs, and so on. As something comes up, we schedule a task, bang. This is what needs to come up. They are listed by order of priority, and I get a pop-up reminder for those that I have scheduled as the most important. That’s the Salesforce area.

But then there’s another problem. If I flick over here to my e-mail inbox, no! Damn. Now, that one causes me problems because sometime I have so much enquiry coming in and follow-up on this and follow-up of that, and yes, I’ve got three other people working with me at the moment and I can outsource and forward on and do this. But even that takes time. It’s good that I record this today, because at the moment, it’s just huge. Everything is just happening. Business is booming. I’m very, very blessed for that to be happening, but it’s a task. It’s a chore to manage it.

So I do two other things when it gets to that kind of overwhelming stage. Number 1, I’ve actually turned off check e-mails automatically. Turned off for the day. I’ll get to them when I get to them. I’ve also then gone into the cPanel of my website and created an auto reply, and it’s just for today. But the auto reply is, “Hi. Look, I’ve received your message. Thanks very much. This is an automatic reply to acknowledge you.” That’s important. “However, I am out of the office all day today,” as I will be shortly. “I won’t get to your email until this evening. If it’s important, send me a text.” I don’t want them to call me. Or they can use the contact form on my website. It will come to my mobile device. If it’s important or, of course, I then list the two different points of contact elsewhere in the company, others whom they can talk to if they need help straightaway, technical support and so on. That’s one thing that I do.

The other is I have here, this is just a little list for myself. If I lift it up, I’m going to show you. It’s an A4 page, which I’ve split into four, and I’ve written down here my frogs. These are my frogs for the day — this YouTube video. Now, look, these are easy for me to do, but they’re also easy not to do, which means my content management scheduling, which is incredibly important for the lifeblood of my business, would get put off for another week. So Monday morning, I’m doing this the very first thing. It’s a one-time thing. Forget about it then for the rest of the week.

I then have, “Clear my tasks and e-mails.” I’m going to go through that and schedule everything that needs to be scheduled or delegate everything that needs to be delegated. Then from there, if it’s a two or three minute response, I’ll do it, or it gets scheduled into Salesforce for future.

Moving through, I then have three clients, because that’s going to take about probably 60 minutes. But then I have three clients that I must, must, must do some work for today and make contact. These are jobs that I’m actually quoting on. So on one of them, I’m meeting. So I need to review everything. I’m meeting with her today. I need to review everything before I go. The two others, I’m still trying to get my head around what they need, customisations and so on. So I need to record a video explaining to them my understanding of what they are looking for, not just a normal job. That must be done today. I can’t let those go. Between those three jobs is about $40,000 in development. So I really need to make that a frog and a priority for today.

Moving on, I then need to set and schedule and make appointments with absolutely every client that I’m doing some SEO work for at the moment and also three people I’m doing some web development for just to keep in touch with them. Now, this is important. Once a month, I do reporting within my business for my SEO clients. I don’t always need to see them. But for the ongoing, ongoing, ongoing, I do like to catch up with them at least once every two months. So I need to get them on the phone and go, “Hi, how you doing? When can we meet?” I’m doing that not because I just want them to understand what I’m doing for them, but from a business point of view, to keep that relationship going, to keep the work coming in, it’s very, very important. Plus, I’ll need some things from them also.

Then I have two websites that I need to write content for today. Okay, I’m not going to get them done. I can see I’ve marked them as scheduled. That won’t get done today. I’m not going to die if that doesn’t get done today. I can maybe do it Wednesday. Got a workshop tomorrow. I’m out of the office all day tomorrow.

Also, finally, I have slides that I need to review for tomorrow. I get the feeling that one might be done at the end of the day when I’m really tired. I know the slides. They should be okay, but I still need to review them before I walk into a workshop tomorrow.

And then, last things last, I’m going to make an appointment with a company. I just discovered they’re local. I didn’t realize. Even though I’ve got five people working with me, or four plus myself at the moment, I need to extend out and increase my expertise in other areas through other people. So there’s a VA company who manages VAs. I could do it myself, but do you think I’ve got the time? Not even close. I will pay the premium right to get someone else to just manage them for me, arrange them, interview them, do all of that and just say, “Hi, here’s the work. Bang. Schedule. Here’s the work. Send it out.”

So that’s time management. Whatever’s happening in your world, I want you to ask yourself — here’s I guess the summary — three things.

  • Number 1, “What are my frogs? What are the most important things I must do that are so difficult I’m putting them off?” And, that’s a habit that we need to break.
  • Number 2, “What tasks can I schedule or delegate? What things can I schedule or delegate?” And there’s time involved with doing that, but it gets it off your hands long term.
  • And then finally, “What is stopping me? Is anything stopping me from just sitting down here and getting this work done?” For me, it’s the e-mails. I had to turn them off for today, turn them off for tomorrow, probably turn them off again for Wednesday. Catch up but get these important things done.

Okay, folks, I hope you found that interesting. I hoped you’ve received some inspiration and you will give thought to your time management.

Last thing, even if you’re not that busy at the moment, get these habits into play now, absolutely now. And, of course, if you would like some more information, if you’d like to maybe progress even further, I have a program in my shop, which is all about time management and life. Okay, not just the business side of things, but how we integrate the business and life, because working hard is one thing, working smart is another.

Working all the time, that’s just plain stupid. We need to find the balance.