Think you don’t have enough time? You just have to get smart about how you use it.
What I have observed as I work with small business owners is that they often feel overwhelmed and feel like they are racing just to keep up. When I ask them how they are using their time, they cannot answer. When I ask them to keep a time log, they often resist as they are “Too Busy”.
The sad news is they will remain too busy until they take the time (there is that word again) to learn how they are actually using their time. And this does not have to be hard. It can be as simple as a day broken into 15- or 30-minute increments (link). Then as you work through your day, jot down what you were doing from 8:00 – 8:30 and then from 8:30 to 9:00.
As you identify what you have been doing and how long it takes, it will become clear what is taking up all of your time. And perhaps, more importantly, what you can let go of.
Now it’s time to gain control over your calendar so you can master your business. Here are some tips:
- Schedule daily Time To Think (TTT) this is strategic thinking about your business. Stepping back from working “IN” your business.
- Where can additional training, or process development now, ease the time for tasks later?
- Block time for important tasks. The time log you just developed will help you better estimate how long you need for your various projects.
- Delegate. This is important. You need to learn how to help other people help you to grow your business. If you do not, you are the bottleneck on your success.
- Learn to say “no”, or at least “not right now”.
- Learn to group similar things together. For example, block out an hour to return phone calls at one time versus writing an email, reviewing the numbers and then making a call. Give your brain a break.
As a small business owner your task lists probably says “Everything.” You want to learn how to find the Big Rocks, the most important priorities, and schedule them and then keep your schedule. Don’t break the appointments you set with yourself.
Learn to use what Tony Robbins calls “Net Time”.
– Listen to audiobooks during the commute.
– Read the article or journal to keep up on your industry while waiting for an appointment.
– Listen to podcasts while exercising.
– Leverage walking meetings with your team. Take a walk and cover their goals and tasks.
Finally, commit to yourself, your team, and your business. When you learn to control your calendar, you will be one step closer to mastering your business.
It’s become an all-too-common challenge. You begin your day by going through email and Slack messages, deleting the twenty or more you don’t need or want. Then you work your way through those from your, co-workers, customers, and vendors. Along the way, you respond to texts, Zoom chats and maybe a phone call or two. Perhaps you check Linked In, Facebook and Instagram just to stay in the loop. Finally, you take a breath and realize that the first hour of your day has been consumed by the digital treadmill that saps your time and focus. Then it is on to the first project or meeting, all the while clearing a never-ending series of messages.
By mid-morning, you realize the edge is off the day’s energy. What you’re feeling is the impact of decision fatigue and the world seems to be awash in it. Decision fatigue is when you start making less-than-optimal choices because your thinking gets fuzzy due to your inability to focus. In some cases, you feel too tired or hesitant to make the decision, so you just don’t. This is all the result of your body exhausting the supply of blood glucose (sugar energy) created while you slept. Instead of concentrating on significant decisions, it has been squandered on the hundreds of micro-decisions demanding your attention.
But this scourge is not just confined to emails, text, and social media. Consider the last time you searched for something online, only to end up battling all the pop-ups designed to distract you from your mission. What about trying to choose between ultra-white, super-white or optic white toothpaste? Or maybe the 200 shades of white paint in the home center? Perhaps it’s the information overload forced on us by the 24-hour news cycle.
We all deal with decision fatigue. But some people manage it much better than others. I’ve spent the past few years figuring out how they do it. Here is a sampling of the strategies they use.
Reverse the first two hours of your morning. Refrain from grabbing your smart phone the minute you wake up. Instead, center yourself. Eat a healthy breakfast and prepare mentally for the day. When you begin work, do the most critical thing first. Complete a project. Conduct an important conversation. Outline the upcoming presentation. THEN check your email, texts and social media. This simple switch enables the best decision-makers to use the top of their energy on the tasks that really count.
Close your message apps. The job of tech companies is to distract you any way they can. After all, eyeballs mean money. Those who best manage decision fatigue, turn off the endless array of applications when not using them. This stops the pop-ups, the vibrations, the sound effects and other distractions that impede their concentration. Over time, people will accept that you only respond during certain times, including your team and customers. (This might even inspire them to do the same thing.)
Eliminate your APPoplexy. APPoplexy is having too many apps on your phone. Have you ever spent five minutes trying to save two minutes, because you couldn’t find the right app? I’ve met people with as many as 210. Most are never used. So, uninstall them. Waiting in line? Uninstall an app. Waiting for the movie to start? Uninstall an app. Waiting to pick up a food order? Uninstall an app. You get the idea.
Use these phrases to shorten meetings, regardless of whether you’re in charge.
- At the beginning of the meeting, ask, “So what are we going to accomplish here?”
- If you sense the meeting is drifting, ask, “Can we take a minute to review what we’re trying to accomplish?”
- Or, “I feel like we’re getting off track. What exactly are we trying to decide?”
Again, regardless of whether you’re in charge, it is acceptable to ask these questions.
Ask before you agree. Ever had someone ask for a “few minutes” of your time and end up spending more than an hour trying to extricate yourself from their task? When they ask, say “Perhaps, tell me what’s involved.” This will help you avoid time wasters and limit your unplanned commitments.
Frame commitments with time-limiting phrases. Here are a few that work effectively:
- “Sure, I’ve got three minutes. Will that be enough time?”
- “Let’s take five minutes right now and make a decision.”
- “I’m committed right now, but I’ve got ten minutes at ___ PM. Will that work?”
- “I’d be happy to help. Do you have all the details so we can make the decision?”
All of these will compel the other person to better organize their time and clarify the actual commitment.
Eliminate your multi-tasking. In spite of everyone claiming to multi-task, it is physically impossible. The brain can only attend to one task at a time. What we think of as multi-tasking is really time-slicing, bouncing back and forth between two or more tasks. Every time we bounce, we needlessly expend sugar energy. Those who beat decision fatigue focus on one task to completion and then move on.
My book, Overcoming Overwhelm, contains more than 40 of these proven strategies. You can order a free copy at www.decisionfatiguebook.com. Just pay shipping.
Bob Wendover, the author of Overcoming Overwhelm, helps managers to improve workplace decision cultures and get the people around them to think on their feet. Connect with him at email@example.com .
Do you remember a Snipe Hunt? One of the initiations into Boy Scouts was to send the Tenderfeet out on a Snipe Hunt. This was where the new guys were sent out at night to find and bag a Snipe.
From the Oxford Dictionary
- a practical joke in which an unwitting victim is sent in pursuit of something that doesn’t exist.
- “one or two gullible youths are selected to participate in the notorious snipe hunt”
- a foolish or hopeless search for or pursuit of something unattainable; a wild goose chase
You can watch the video or read the rest below.
I can remember my first hunt. I was a new Tenderfoot in Boy Scouts and we were out at Camp Nash. Joey and I were excited. About thirty minutes in, we knew something was off. And sure enough, the older scouts were having a hoot at our expense as we scoured the woods at night, looking for the elusive Snipe.
I see too many owners pursuing the elusive Snipes in their business. They are posting meaningless “look at me and my business” posts on Facebook or other Social Media sites. Or they are drinking gallons of coffee networking and wondering where the business is. Or they are spending dollar after dollar in one form of advertising or another without really knowing who their ideal customer is and where they are, in order to message them.
Or there is the business owner that has grown to the point where they now are working 60 – 70 hours a week trying to keep up with the workload of delivery and the back-office work necessary to keep the business running. All because they haven’t taken the time to hire the right people and then to have the policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) so the business can run while the owner is not in the shop.
I get it. Many owners are busy. And, if they can take an hour or so once a week to 1) Identify the key systems and processes that drive their business. 2) Start writing out the steps to fulfill each process. 3) Have each process reviewed by the people that will be performing the process. 4) Storing these where they are accessible for everyone that needs access.
For all of you gloriously self-employed, congratulations… you have a different kind of job. Creating a business requires that you step out of the business on a regular basis to work on the business so it can run when you are not there.
Being busy is a Snipe. You can’t escape being busy. But you can become more productive and focused by taking the time to identify and then to optimize the processes that drive your business. Do yourself the biggest favor. Schedule two hours a week to step out of your business to focus on your business. Your family and your bottom line will thank you.
And if you would like access to some resources to help, you can check out the resources at www.ras-squared.com
Let’s talk about the phases of growth your business will go through and how to get the most out of each phase, while also extending the life of your business.
The four different phases of a business life cycle are:
We’ll talk a little about what each one is and how they can each help expand your business’ life.
This is typically where the owner is doing it all and they are relying upon their expertise and specialty. In the book The E-Myth they would call this a technicians time. At this point, it is hard to separate the business from the owner. The business is dependent upon the owner to be there, to deliver, and to leverage their expertise.
But a business owner can’t stay here forever and grow. They have to understand the next steps.
In this phase you want to start bringing on your support staff and learn to delegate to allow growth to happen. You need to keep a strong emphasis on the technical skills that your organization brings to the busines and the deliverables. This phase really belongs to the manager. You now start planning for the future while managing the assets and resources you have.
There is a point of growth in every successful business where business explodes and becomes chaotic. This is referred to as the Transition. It’s a good problem to have. But it presents new challenges, nonetheless. You are now faced with a number of choices:
- Stay small avoid growth and be comfortable
- Go out of business as you can’t keep up
- Persist and move into the next phase
The last phase is maturity or developed, this doesn’t mean the end of your business. Your passion and drive for growth has to continue in order for you to succeed. You need to keep an entrepreneurial perspective in order to push your business forward. This is where working ON your business is crucial.
You see how all four of these cycles are connected and depend on a strong foundation for each one of them for your business to be, and continue to be, successful. Your three key roles (Technician, Manager, and Entrepreneur must also work together to work through these cycles. If you have read the e-myth, you know these roles as technician, manager, and entrepreneur.
If you are frustrated dealing with the transition from one phase to the next, and figuring out which of the key roles you fit into, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our amazing coaches.
There are three keys to business development. How well you can put the right keys in place can determine the strength of your business foundation.
These areas of business Development are:
Execute on these areas well and you build a solid foundation for your business. Let’s talk about each one of these for just a minute.
Innovation is not creativity. Creativity is the expression of ideas. Innovation is taking these creative ideas and putting them into action. Without action they are just ideas. You want to spend a large amount of your focus on how you can innovate your business. You want it to be different, to stand out, to draw in customers. Think about Domino’s Pizza. Before Domino’s, almost all pizza was either take out or eat in. They looked at the market and said who is hungry for pizza? (College Kids). Domino’s built pizza kitchens near the campus and delivered fast. They got creative ideas and they innovated.
Where can you innovate in your business?
What we measure tends to grow. When you can track the numbers related to your business and to your innovations, you can track success. The best way to gauge this is by your customer response.
- Did leads increase or decrease?
- Did sales increase or not?
Look to positive responses for what you are doing right-and keep doing it. Look to your negative responses to find out what you’re doing wrong-and fix it. This will enable you to keep growing and progressing with the needs of your customers and business climate.
When you find what areas are working, you can narrow down those areas and concentrate on making them the standout ideas. You shift your focus here to get the most out of your business and to meet the needs of your customers.
I can help you work through these three areas during your FREE test drive.
In the next few lessons we are going to transition to the 7 specific areas you need to consider in building your business for survival beyond you. That is building a business you can sell for more money and or one that you can franchise or license. These are:
- Primary Aim
- Strategic Objectives
- Organizational Strategy
- Management Strategy
- People Strategy
- Marketing Strategy
- Systems Strategy
These 7 areas will fine turn your plan for the ultimate level of success.
Image courtesy of https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archivo:Business_idea_diagram_graph.jpg