We recently wrote a blog introducing the 10 steps to significant business growth and covering step one: knowing and analysing your starting point.
- Knowing and analysing your starting point
- Making the time for your priorities
- Your mission, vision, goals and objective
- Knowing your idea customers
- Positioning your business
- Your marketing tactics
- How to win more customers
- Making your numbers work
- Maximising your people investment
- Making your business work like clockwork
Today we’re going to dig into the second most important step: your time.
Every client we’ve worked with wants more time.
The bad news: We’re not Gods, and we can’t give you more time.
The good news: we can help you work more effectively and give you the tools you need to make better use of your time.
Most commonly, business owners get stuck fire fighting
Take a look at the traditional time management matrix.
We start somewhere in the middle, then we get called into the important perceived to be urgent box. We go into that box to firefight - take urgent client calls, deal with urgent emails etc. Because firefighting is exhausting, to recover, we drop down to the non urgent and unimportant box - we surf the internet, have a chat with someone, make a coffee that takes three times longer than it needs to. Finally we get back to the middle, back to being proactive, and then what happens? Another urgent email pops in.
How familiar does that story sound? Trust me. You’re not alone. But there are tips and tools at our disposal to help us manage this time better.
There are two tools available to everyone: the to-do list and the diary
It sounds obvious, but your to-do list and your diary are two massive advantages that are often underused.
Your to-do list
We recommend writing it out. There are lots of apps for listing your to-do’s you could use. But at the core, we’re big advocates of writing the list out first rather than putting your to-do’s straight into your outlook. When your to-do list goes straight into your calendar, you can easily change a task without stopping to ask why it’s on the list in the first place, or considering it’s importance.
You want to be able to say “I know why that task is number one on my list”. But what most people do is choose the easiest thing to tackle. We totally understand the psychology behind it - you do the easy thing, you get the tick and the dopamine hit, and you feel like you have momentum. The problem is, there are more important things waiting in line, that would be far more beneficial to the growth of your business to get ticked off.
Ask yourself: What’s most important to the growth of the business, is it revenue, team, yourself?
Your diary management
Once you’ve decided on the most important things you need be prioritise, and you’ve written out your to-do list, THEN load it into your diary.
When you’re managing your diary, open up the app as wide as possible on your desktop. The downside of tech and mobile phones is you can’t see a wide view when you’re scrolling, meaning we end up trying to cram everything into the week in front of us.
Break your diary out into blanks first. Then fill it out with the things you know you have to do. Once you can see your gaps, you can start pulling things off your to-do list and scheduling them appropriately. Then you can wake up and see exactly what you need to do, and can commit to those things because they’re in your pipeline of important activities.
Add your tasks into your diary based on your to-do list priorities. You might block out time in hours, like so:
- 3 hour blocks: a strategic task, client mentoring etc.
- 1.5 hour block: a webinar or training session
- 1 hour block: a session with a client
- 30 minute block: a quick prospect call
The tasks might look a little different for you, but it’s a good idea not to go too far over three hours per task. Try not to make any task blocks longer than the amount of time you know you can stay focused for.
Also, do the hardest things at the time when you have the most energy. The strategy, the client calls, the training sessions. You’ll be far less likely to want to do those tasks if you leave them till you’re drained at the end of the day. Schedule the things you can do with your eyes closed in the afternoons or last thing in the day.
It can also be beneficial to build an hour into every morning and afternoon as ‘comfort time’. Time you know you have to spare if you need it. Since we know how easy it is to spend the whole day firefighting, build in a flexible hour for it.
Align your important tasks with your strategic direction
What’s your 3-5 year plan?
As we’ve mentioned already, your to-do list should be filled with the important things you need to do to grow your business. So it makes sense to look at the bigger picture in order to know what those priorities are.
Once you have your 3-5 year goals, ask yourself what you need to do this year to be on the path to achieving them. Once you have your one year plan, break it down into 90 day sprints - what can you do for 90 days without distraction to keep you on that trajectory.
When you know your high payoff activities, it becomes really clear when you’re just in fire fighting mode. You can differentiate between the two and start to ask yourself some honest questions about the daily interruptions.
In the work book we’ve attached here, we’ve given you an interruption log. It’s a really simple document, the most simple tool that makes the most impact.
- On the left hand side of the log you enter the who: now you have clarity about what’s most important to be doing, who’s distracting you most often - your business partner, a customer, member of family, one of the team?
- On the right hand side you enter the why - for what reason are they coming to you most often?
If you do this over a period of time, you’ll start to see some patterns. When you have a pattern, you can begin to make changes:
- You can take a moment to reset with the who. Have discussions with those people who are coming to you most often. Get to the source of the problem and manage expectations.
- You can really assess the why - ask yourself why they needed to distract you in the first place. Is there an education piece that needs creating? Is it a process or a system you need to put in place to help people get clear on what they’re doing?
This log doesn’t need to be a one-time thing. Bring it out whenever you can feel yourself getting overwhelmed. It’s a powerful tool for getting clarity on what’s blocking you from doing the important things. You can make the necessary changes in order to become a more efficient business that doesn’t rely on you to firefight, and get back on that growth trajectory.
As business owners, the value of your time isn’t just the amount you can charge out for doing a job. Ultimately it is the whole business and your impact you have on the business. For example, your expertise might bring a high value client into your business - that is the value of your time. So the more you can slow interruptions with training, education or delegation - the more time you have to spend working on growing the business.
Stop now and fill in your worksheet
We’ve provided a worksheet to help you take these steps towards significant business growth.
This is just Step 2 of the 10 part framework, so stay tuned. We’ll be releasing more blogs like this one!