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Here’s How I Grew Five Businesses, and Eventually Sold One to a Fortune 500 Company.
Part 1- How to Profit through Time Management
Manage Time Like Money and Profit Through Time Management
Why did you get into business for yourself? Was it to be your own boss? Choose your own hours? Have more time with the family? Spend more time doing what you love? Chances are, you answered yes to all these questions.
These days, you probably wonder where the time went. Why you spent 12 hours at work and barely make a dent in your to-do list. We already know that time is a key resource for you and your business, but it’s also a key resource in your life. Harnessing and leveraging time is the only way to enjoy life, and have a profitable business at the same time.
A few years back I was working with a client who told me that he hadn’t had a date with his wife in years! He was running a million-dollar business with ten employees but he didn’t take any time off for himself. We were able to restructure the business that made him more profitable and he was able to get regular dates with his wife.
The Pareto Principle in Business
You may be familiar with the Pareto Principle; 80% of your results can be attributed to 20% of your efforts, while 20% of your results can be attributed to 80% of your efforts. As the leader of your business, you want to focus your efforts on the activities that yield the greatest results.
Most business owners carefully manage their financial and personnel resources, and pay due attention to their performance. Marketing plans and budgets are created, people are hired and fired. What most business owners don’t realize is that time – and the time of all employees – requires the same attention and diligent management.
Time will never manage itself.
Time will never manage itself. The decision to make a pro-active effort to manage your time must come from you. Once you have committed to taking ownership for your own time management, there are a host of tools available to you. But first, you must understand how much your time is actually worth, and where you are currently spending it.
What is Your Time Worth?
Ever wonder what your time is actually worth? Here’s a quick way to figure it out:
Target annual income A.
Working days in a year B. 235
Working hours in a day C. 7
Working hours in a year D. 1,645
A/D = YOUR HOURLY WORTH (before tax + expenses) E.
This is a very simple calculation intended to put your time in perspective. In reality, no one is productive for each of the 1,645 hours. Various studies have put actual productivity at anywhere between 25 minutes and four hours per day. Either way, there’s a lot of room for improvement.
How Many Days Do You Have Left on Earth?
Let’s look at it another way:
Your age A.
Days in a year B.
Days spent on earth to date (A x B) C.
Average life expectancy D. 70
Total projected days on earth (D x B) E.
Estimated days left (E – C) F.
This exercise isn’t intended to scare you, but bring your attention to the importance of choosing how you spend each hour you have available. It is a choice! By developing the skills required to manage your time, you will not only have a profitable business but rewarding and balanced life.
The Five Culprits of Time Theft
Chances are – if you’re like most people – you have no idea where your time goes. You’re likely frustrated by the fact that you can spend 10, 12, even 14 hours a day working, and not make a dent in your to-do list, or only bill half of those hours.
When we’re too busy and overloaded with work, we often switch into reactive mode. We can’t make it to the bottom of the pile and end up handling issues and making decisions at the last minute. One of the great benefits of choosing to become proactive in time management is that you can become proactive in all other areas of your business. When in a proactive mode, you can take steps to grow your business through networking, building programs, and establishing systems.
Before you investigate where your time goes, let’s take a look at the top five culprits of modern-day time theft:
1. Time Management and Your Email
How many times a day do you check your email? Is Outlook or Mail constantly running on your desktop? Email – internal, external, personal and business – clogs up your day like no other communication channel. For many of us, it is possible to spend the entire day writing and responding to emails without even glancing at our inbox. The number of emails sent and received each day by the average person in 2007 was 147. Multiply that by an average of two minutes per message, and you have spent almost five hours on email in a single day.
2. Time Management and Your Mobile Phone
Cell phones have created convenience, security, and the luxury of telecommuting. PDAs and cell phones have also created a society that expects to be able to reach you at any moment or at least receive instant responses to their calls. Your cell phone or PDA not only robs you of your time during the day but also during the evenings and on weekends when you are not at work.
3. Time Management and Your Open Door Policy
If you make it easy for your staff and associates to interrupt you, they will. Too often, open-door policies are set up by human resource departments to create clear communication channels. Instead, they create a clog of employees lined up at your door seeking immediate answers to non-emergent issues.
4. Time Management in Meetings
How many times have you been to a meeting that was scheduled to be an hour, and ended up lasting three? How often do you attend unnecessary meetings? Or meetings that run off-topic? Meetings can be a huge source of wasted time – your valuable time. In a senior management or ownership position, your day may consist of back-to-back meetings, leaving only your evening hours to complete the tasks that should have been done during the day.
Every person has daily habits that sabotage their ability to work productively and efficiently. Many entrepreneurs and business owners can’t separate business hours from leisure hours. Some get caught in a time warp while surfing the internet. Others – mainly overachievers – can become paralyzed by perfectionism or procrastination. Mainly we just don’t have the tools to schedule and structure our time in a way that fits with our working style.
Where Does Your Time Go?
So far we’ve seen that time is a resource that should be as carefully managed as cash, we’ve figured out what your time is worth, and looked at the top five culprits of time theft. You’ve committed to taking steps to become a better time manager. What now?
Personal Time Management Research Exercise
The next step is to take a good, (and honest!) look at how you spend your time. Once you understand your patterns and habits, you begin to implement the strategies in this chapter that will make you a better time manager.
Step One: Time Audit
Use the Time Log Worksheet at the back of this chapter to record how you spend your time for three working days in a row. Be honest, and be specific. Include time spent in transit, surfing the web, interacting with clients and colleagues, as well as how your time is spent at home in the evenings. The more information you can record, the easier it will be to analyze your time management skills in step two.
Step Two: Time Categorization
Once you have recorded your time for three days, sit down with all three sheets in front of you and identify the following using different colored markers or highlighters:
• Driving, public transportation or other travel
• Eating, including food preparation
• Personal Errands
• Watching TV
• Sleeping, including naps
• Using the computer, personal use only
• Being with family/friends
• Emailing, including checking, reading, and returning messages
• Talking on the phone, including checking and returning messages
• Internal meetings
• External meetings
• Administrative work
• Client work
• Non-client, non-administrative work
Step Two: Time Analysis
Now that you have identified how you have spent your time, go through the worksheets one more time and identify if you have spent enough, too much, or too little time on each main task.
Then, based on your observations, answer the following questions:1. What patterns do you notice about how you spend your time during the day? (i.e., When are you most productive? Least productive? Most or least interrupted?)
2. Write down the four highest priorities in your life right now. Does your timesheet reflect these priorities?
3. If you had more time, what would you do?
4. If you had less time, what wouldn’t you do?
5. Could you remove the items in question four and add the items in question three? Why or why not?
6. Is procrastination a problem for you? How much?
Go here to read Part 3.
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