Many of us spend much of the day reacting to things that are happening around us, whether it’s market changes, emails and phone calls from clients or potential clients, last-minute meetings, or interruptions from co-workers. While all of these are inevitable parts of running a business, they can lead to feeling of a lack of control. Luckily, there are a few tried and true methods for taking back control of your time and, ultimately, your day-to-day business dealings.
Assess How Time is Being Spent
In order to truly take back control of your time, you must understand how that time is being spent. Start by dedicating three days gathering information on your own behavior by asking the following questions:
What am I doing right now? Is it important to my business? Is it urgent? Why am I doing it?
Set a reminder on your computer for every 30 minutes that prompts you to ask these questions. Keep a log of your responses. When the three days end, review your responses to the questions. You might find that there is no true pattern to your everyday actions. For example: client meetings might be spread out, you answer emails all throughout the day, and time that you have spent working on business expansion is almost non-existent.
Set Aside Planning Time
Once you have a clear picture of how you spend your time, it is important to create a realistic game plan for yourself. Set aside the last 15 minutes of each day to write out the three things you want to accomplish the next day. Make sure to also review the next day’s meeting schedule at this time.
After a few weeks, planning will become more automatic. Next, add a 30-minute block each week to focus on your business planning goals. Think about the tasks you need to complete and whether or not each is a task you should handle yourself or delegate to someone else.
Create Your Weekly Schedule
Using the data that you have collected, determine whether there are activities that you can group together and dedicate time on your calendar for these activities. For instance, instead of responding to emails all day every day, try dedicating two blocks of time each day - perhaps first thing in the morning and one hour before the end of the business day, to go through and respond to non-urgent emails. You should still check your inbox in order to promptly respond to anything urgent, but now you have given yourself time to focus on business-growth activities.
Consider allocating time for:
- Client meetings: It may be beneficial to have client meetings only on specific days, and on the non-client meeting days, you can focus on building your business.
- Business-building activities: Block out time to assess portfolio enhancement opportunities, plan client events, and engage in your business’s social media. Set up an “idea” folder in your email or an “idea” bookmark on your browser to save articles you might find online, and go through them during this allocated time.
- Market commentary: Allocate a certain amount of time each morning to get caught up on industry events and market commentary.
- Personal and professional development: These items are often the first to fall to the bottom of the list. However, it is important to find the right balance between your work and personal lives. Set aside specific times to complete your continued education coursework, networking, training, positive mental health time, and physical activities.
Proactively planning and organizing your calendar will help you focus on the tasks at hand. Finding the right balance will take a bit of trial and error but the benefits will far outweigh any initial frustration. Once you master your time management, you may find that not only has your business improved, but your overall stress level has also been reduced, creating a better experience for you, your employees, and your clients.
To find out more information on this topic or how SFA Partners can help your business, please email us at email@example.com or call at (888) 447-2444.