Time management in running a business can often feel like this: stop, start, stop, start, think, start, stop.
You don’t have the time or resources to gain full momentum most of the time and when you do, there’s always something niggling away at you that needs to be sorted.
This is the feedback we hear a lot from speaking with business owners who often feel a bit lost. They don’t have the ability to really keep doing what they are good at due to dealing with everything else.
Here are some of the questions you may have been asked recently:
- Have you thought about this?
- Have you done that?
- Have you arranged that meeting?
- Have you put a job advert out?
- Have you applied for the finance?
Notice the repetitiveness of “Have you”?
There are many barriers you will face when running a business, for now we will focus on what can you do right now to stop everything falling on your shoulders.
You are in control of your own actions. There is very little in this world that is not actually within your control. Certain events may force you to go down different paths, but it is your choice as to which path you take.
The first step is to identify and accept the barriers you will face.
Most professional service companies keep timesheets. This is done in units of time, usually 6 minutes. Start doing this if your productivity is falling or you know something is a time drainer or procrastination causer, but you don’t know what. Write everything down, be honest and don’t forget. It’s a bit like a food diary if you’re going to get your summer body ready. Until you see it in black and white in front of you, there’s little appreciation for what actually goes on. Keep track of the time spent, the action you had to do and why it had to be done. The why is really important.
Step two is to complete a 4D matrix. This is also called a time management matrix but it can be used to decide when actions need to be done and who by. A brief overview is
- Do it now, or
- Defer it until a later date, or
- Delegate it (you don’t need a team to delegate, you can outsource tasks eg, bookkeeping or vat returns) or
- Drop it. Don’t drop it though, you’ve identified barriers and they all need to be dealt with.
Once you categorised them, delegate what you can immediately with clear instructions of what is required, by when and what the final product you expect is.
Diarise the Defer tasks.
Then thirdly, Pareto the Do now tasks. Pareto is a concept introduced by an Italian economist many years ago but still widely used to this day. It is also called the 80/20 rule. 80% of results come from 20% of actions. Take your list of do now tasks and Pareto them, which 20% of the tasks will give you the biggest results in reducing the size of the barrier. For example, you can not move forward with a project because you don’t have new machines. This is a big barrier and requires you to purchase new equipment. The answer is simple, buy new machinery but the mechanics may be a bit more difficult.
This is where the “why” is important from your time log. In the example above, not having the equipment is the barrier noted however, this is a symptom of another barrier that we need to overcome. To find the root barrier you should keep digging by asking why at each stage. No equipment – why, no cash – why, do not know how to raise finance – why, unsure of the best option for my needs – why, unsure of the long-term plan – why, no business plan completed.
The final step is to decide what you are going to do about each barrier There is a video linked here showing you a decision matrix. This is a helpful tool to decide what option you should choose to overcome an issue if you are presented with more than one.
Of course, we are here to help you. We know the problems you face and have ways to help you over come them. If you prefer to do your own research, there is a lot of information available online in forums for business owners who have went through the same as you and want to share their experiences.
But if you’d like us to help you get in touch.