‘Time is money,’ ‘you can’t get back lost time’…We’ve all heard these sayings before and experienced the sense of urgency and regret that they come with. But, how do we go about economizing and ultimately maximizing the potential of this precious resource?
Whether you’re a business owner or aspire to move up the corporate ladder, a large part of your success depends on planning your work activities until the last minute.
In this article, we explore ways of making the most of your time for company growth and career development.
Start With the End in Mind
As an entrepreneur, your vision involves more than just making a quick buck; your objective is building a sustainable business regardless of the time and energy it will take. Backing up this commitment with a strategy that establishes short-, medium- and long-term goals lets you set the time frames necessary to monitor progress.
Perhaps you’re in a management position instead, where you need to plan against your department’s Key Performance Areas? Setting targets is an invaluable tool in keeping your team motivated and, in turn, increasing productivity. On the other hand, where your resources aren’t achieving goals, you’ve created the opportunity to adapt where necessary.
Last Things First
Now that you’ve begun to actualize your vision by establishing processes where operations work at their best within time constraints, it’s time to adjust your focus on the day-to-day. As a business owner or manager, there are always 100 things on your to-do list but knowing which to prioritize sets the stage for a thriving operation. Unfortunately, the tendency is to put off the most difficult tasks where we tell ourselves things like ‘I need to be in the right frame of mind to do this’ or ‘I just need to address this other thing quickly.’ Inevitably, however, ‘this other thing’ usually takes up more of your time than initially intended.
As a manager who should be results-driven, activities of little consequence take up valuable time that could have been better spent on an activity that can increase your revenue stream.
Another trap that key personnel falls into is doing tasks that they can delegate. Reasons for this vary from:
- ‘I can do it better.’ Although this may be the case, it’s a question of picking your battles really where the deciding factor should be ‘does this undertaking justify the money I earn or the role I play in this company?’
- Avoidance. Subconsciously, as a business owner or senior, the inclination is to fight fires or implement crisis management, where in reality, an assistant or junior could handle the situation. Not to get it wrong, customer queries and complaints deserve the right amount of attention and care. However, a manager should be able to identify how much is at stake and decide if the issue at hand poses a serious threat to the company-if it doesn’t, assigning the task will serve the company better overall.
- Busy for the sake of being busy. Perhaps you’ve recently been promoted to a managerial role? This higher position within your company requires a mind shift where you can’t put off the things you’d rather not be doing, which are pivotal to your company’s growth. In other words, achieving Key Performance Indicators now outweigh doing the routine tasks.
Allocate Time Frames to Each Task
Implementing your game plan requires you to operate at a level where your business strategy translates to day-to-day tasks that yield tangible results. Once you’ve communicated company objectives from the top-down, you’ll have to instill effective time management among employees, whether you use the services of a professional training company or formalize on-the-job training. The latter also takes the form of leading by example, and as a business owner/ manager, you’ll have to be intentional in the way you work.
Although focusing all your energy on one task is a surefire way to get things done properly, committing all of your time to a specific activity doesn’t guarantee success. Instead, you’ll have to manage your risks by distributing your energy between two to four of your top priorities where, if you don’t get the desired outcome for one, you’ll have compensated for that by committing time to get results from others.
Time to fine-tune your time management efforts and fast-track your company’s success. Although being a business owner requires flexibility, knowing which tasks to park is an essential skill to have when following through on your company goals. For example, sidelining the activity you’re working on to read e-mails as they come in delays progress and compromises the quality of your output. In addition, look out for the following time-wasters:
- Phone calls and messages. Because of your role in the business, turning your phone off isn’t always an option where you’re committed to remaining available in case of an emergency. You do, however, have the choice of diverting calls to your assistant or junior, for example, who know only to come knocking if absolutely necessary. This set-up will allow you to home in on tasks that require your undivided attention and are crucial to advancing company objectives.
- E-mails. In most instances, what drives companies forward are activities that no one particularly enjoys doing. Working on core activities such as drafting a proposal or writing a report can make an e-mail coming in a welcome invitation to break away from the tediousness. This distraction, however, only draws out the time it takes to complete a critical task. A way around this is to give e-mail access to a colleague you trust and who is available to address messages of high importance when you can’t.
- Meetings. Although these are fundamental to company operations, meetings should have a clear purpose. Ideally, whoever calls for the meeting should give those required to attend notice in advance and send out an agenda so that those present can participate meaningfully. Therefore, the meeting does not have to go on for longer than necessary.
Like any other skill, if given the right amount of effort, you can ingrain time management into your company’s activities and use the time saved to get more clients and secure revenue for the long haul.