One of the most common things I hear when I talk to business people is that they say there’s not enough hours in the day. I always go back to them and say, “If I could add another hour in the day, or another two hours in the day, would you really want me to do that? Or what if you could do less work? What if you could become more efficient in what it is that you do, and maybe that’ll make your day a little bit easier.”
Why Self-Management is important
The reality is you’re never ever going to find another hour in the day. You hear the words “time management” all of the time but I’m not a believer in time management, I’m a believer in self-management. It’s about understanding what it is that’s taking up your time, and working out how to stop doing the things you shouldn’t be doing that are not productive or distractive or are taking you away from achieving your goals, and start focusing in on the things that are going to make a real difference.
Putting that time into your Business
The first thing is to be able to identify each of the tasks that you carry out and work out where do they fit in and into what categories. I’ve got this time target here that’s going to help you a little bit. I’m going to come to that in a second. Before I do, you can see at the top it says “work on and not in.” And this is one of the challenges most business people are faced with; is how do I work on my business rather than in it? Really that’s the essence of being successful in business is once you get out of the day to day working in and you can work on, there’s going to be a great difference. In fact, I ask you this question. If you could spend every hour of your working week working on your business right now, what would your business look like?
Would it benefit by that? I can almost guarantee the answer’s going to be yes. Of course it is! Because once you start working on it, and I’m talking about marketing, plans, team, training, business plans, systemization, all those things are going to make your business better. So it grows quicker and more solid with great cash flow and all of those different aspects. So we have got to think about working on rather than in.
Time is Non-Renewable
Remember, time’s one of those resources that’s non-renewable. Money… at least, you can spend all your money, you can always make some more. But once you spend your time, it’s gone forever. So if you’re not investing your time in the right areas in your business, then you’re wasting time. It’s that simple. Okay? It’s that simple.
Not Urgent and Not Important – Distractions
The first area on the outside here are the things that are not urgent and not important. They are the things that I call distractions in your business. For example, a friend ringing up just to have a chat. Not urgent, not important and you’ve got to be very disciplined and say, “No, I can’t do that right now, I need to be focused on getting my task done.”
This is great not just for business owners, this is great for anybody in any part of their life. They wonder why they’re not getting things done or constantly chasing your tail, then this is probably why. You don’t manage yourself. So be disciplined, not urgent, not important.
Now sure, there are times when it is important for you to do things that aren’t urgent and not important, for example sitting and vegging out in front of the television watching Master Chef or Big Brother or one of those stupid programs. Hope I didn’t offend anybody there, I’m not a big fan of those reality TV shows. But maybe it’s important to you to veg out every now and then and do some not urgent, not important things. But during the time when you say, “You know what, I’m switching on. I’m ready for duty.” And whether it’s your own business or if you work for somebody else, make sure you limit those distractions.
Urgent but Not Important – Delusion
The next inner circle of the time target is as you can see things that are urgent but not important. This is what I call delusion, or a very common way of describing it is avoidance behaviour.
For example; you’ll make things up and make them urgent even though they’re not important so you don’t have to do something else that you don’t really want to do. That’s what I’m talking about with avoidance behaviour. Just say you have to follow up ten quotes or make ten cold calls. There you go, that’s something kind of scary. Or do something that you don’t like doing like the bookkeeping or cleaning out the fridge. You’ll make something else up that’s more urgent like running down to the local stationary store to buy paper clips all of a sudden will become an urgent thing that has to be completed.
Painting the walls in the office, hanging a white board, you know. Things… you’ll start to make things that aren’t urgent urgent to get you out of the doing the things you know you really should be doing. Okay? So that’s urgent and not important. Remember that’s delusion. So the first is distraction, not urgent and not important is going to distract you. Once you make something urgent that’s not important, then you’re living in denial and a bit of delusion going on there.
Urgent and Important
The next task in the circle is things that are urgent plus important. Now these are the, the majority of things that happen in a business. So for example, the phone rings. Okay? It’s got to be answered. It’s urgent, and is it important? More than likely it is, probably a customer. So in a business there’s a stack of things that happen that are urgent and important, and that’s where we become reactive. Because we have to react to these things. You’re printing something out for your presentation and the printer stops working. Well yeah of course it’s urgent and important all of a sudden to fix that printer and get it working. A customer has a problem, they didn’t get their delivery. Urgent and important. These are all the things that demand you time. Okay, and to be successful in business really you have to work out how to delegate all the demand activities to other people so it doesn’t rely just on you. That’s a whole ‘nother video in itself, so we won’t go into that today. But, just understand that that’s what part of the zone of this time target that this fits into.
Important but not Urgent – The Zone!
As you can see right in the middle it’s called the zone. I’ve had to write down here because it doesn’t fit in there. The zone is the things that are important but not urgent. Okay? Important but not urgent. So you think about all the things in your business that you know you should be doing that you’re not. I bet I could say to you, “You know, write a list out of 20 things you know you could do right now that are going to make a big difference to your business long term that you haven’t done.” I reckon you could write that list of 20 things out without even hesitating. They’re usually things that are important but not urgent. They’re not things that your customers are going to pull you up for. If you don’t have a marketing plan you’re customers aren’t going to go, “Hey, where’s your marketing plan?” But if you don’t deliver their product they’re going to say, “Where’s my product?”
You need to work out how to hold yourself accountable to doing these things. And that’s really, as a business coach and owning a business coaching organization, that’s the area we really help people the most is to work on the things that are important but not urgent. That’s because we make them urgent by putting some pressure on you to get the job done.
But by understanding and being able to identify with all the tasks that you do in a week, you can start to see how much of your time is spent in each area. If you get to the end of the day and feel like you’ve done nothing, that’s probably because you’re working in a lot of the areas that aren’t being very productive, or in the demand area. The time you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished the most is when you take two days out, you go to some retreat somewhere, you write your business plan, your system’s manual, whatever it is. When you’re working on your business you’re going to get better results.
Working on your Business
So working on your business it sounds like a cliché thing that could be thrown around, so let me quickly just touch on that…
You know, if you’re working in your business if you’re on the tools, and that’s quite a common thing for most business people. The reason for that is because most people will start a business of a skill that they’re good at. So for example a plumber will start a plumbing business and a bookkeeper will start a bookkeeping business and so on and so on. They end up doing all the work but it really is just a discipline and a mindset to make that change to go, “You know what? I’m going to start to systemize my business and delegate to other people.”
Now with this work on not in theory, I say at least 20% of your time that you spend with your business should be working on in the beginning. And that has to increase over time because some of that working on is developing job descriptions, KPIs and systems for a position so you can hire someone to replace yourself. But unless you start to work on your business, no one else is going to do it for you. Your business is not going to go where you want it to go and it’s going to get frustrating.
There you go
Hopefully that’s helped you to understand how to manage yourself better. Let’s get rid of that word “time management.”
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.