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Time Management: Get More Done in Less Time

Is time management important in your role?

Are you too busy in your work and personal life?

Do you put out fires all day and never get to your to-do list? 

Are you bombarded by emails, phone calls and interruptions that stop you focusing on what’s most important? 

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Business owners, executives, managers, supervisors and staff are all feeling the pressure, not only at work but in their personal lives. While everyone is busy, they are wondering why that doesn’t translate into achieving the things that are most important to them. Health, business growth, and relationships are suffering. The following time management tips will help you get back on track.

Time Management Tips

To help them get structure into their work and personal lives, we teach our clients and their staff a time management concept devised by the 34th President of the United States. It’s called The Eisenhower Matrix. Here’s our interpretation:

time management

When you learn to recognise which of your tasks fit into each category, you can spend the appropriate amount of time on each.

Do Now: Urgent and important tasks

These tasks are the key parts of your day-to-day role. They are the main tasks listed in your job description, and what makes the business ‘tick’. This is the technical part of your job, such as a barista making coffee for customers, or a welder welding machinery parts. This is the zone of demand, as these tasks are responding to the needs of your customers and providing the product or service of your business.

Delegate: Urgent but not important tasks

Urgent but not important tasks are those you feel you have to do right away, but which are actually not important to the growth and mastery of your business. If you often find yourself overwhelmed as you switch from taking phone calls, responding to emails, handling interruptions from staff and meeting with unexpected visitors to your office, you’ll know what we mean! We call this the zone of delusion.

If you have people working for you, delegate some tasks to them. A team member could screen your calls and make appointments for you (rather than allowing drop-ins). You could also delegate tasks to a system or device – allow your calls to go to voicemail; turn off email notifications and check emails only twice a day; have interruption-free blocks of time in your diary; and use an automated CRM to facilitate some regular communication.

Delete: Not important and not urgent tasks

Not important and not urgent tasks are diversions to avoid at all costs. We call this the zone of distraction. Examples include talking at length to colleagues about non-work-related matters; taking long breaks, or internet shopping and Facebook use during work hours. Implement a social media/phone/internet use policy for staff, as hours can be wasted in this quadrant if left unchecked! If you find yourself procrastinating and slowing down at a certain time each day (eg. the 3pm slump), schedule 10 minutes to get out in the sunshine, take a quick walk, or do whatever will help you get back in the zone.

Decide when to do: Not urgent but important tasks

Important but not urgent tasks are those which help you and the business grow and develop. To build a high-performing business you must identify and prioritise these. Schedule these tasks or they will be postponed to accommodate more urgent things, leading to mistakes and delays.

When the barista orders stock and services the coffee machine, or the welder ensures his tools are cleaned and maintained regularly, they are in this zone. For business leaders, communicating with the team and clients, and making time for business development are not urgent but important tasks. In your personal life it may be taking time to nurture your personal relationships, or making time for exercise. We call this preparing rather than repairing as time spent here up front will save time down the track. This quadrant is simply called The Zone. Schedule time in your calendar to ensure these important tasks are done on a regular basis.

Priority management is just one of the ways Yellow Coaching helps business leaders and their teams achieve success. To find out more, get in touch. 

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Business Owners: Need Help With Time Management?

As a business owner, is time management one of your strengths, or are you working more hours than ever, and still not getting everything done?

Did you start your business to get more freedom and flexibility, but have less time now than you did working for someone else?

Are you starting to think that work/life balance is an unattainable myth?

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Many business owners find there is never enough time in the day. And if you’re starting to believe that work/life balance doesn’t exist, we agree with you!

time management

The idea that at any one time there can be equal and sufficient time for work, family, friends, self, contribution, and health – while juggling day-to-day demands – is an idea that sets us up for disappointment. Life throws a variety of demands at us, and there will always be something needing more attention at any one time.

The key to time management is to get clear on your values, and what’s most important to you right now, and ensure you spend time prioritising it.

With time management, as with everything in life, there are choices and consequences. You will need to give up some things in order to gain others. They key is to be at peace with the choices you make.

In order to gain fitness, many business owners we know get up at 5am and forfeit an hour of sleep to exercise before their kids are awake and their working day starts.

Many successful business leaders give up idle time watching TV and prioritise professional development instead, or start work at 6am to ensure they are home in time to put their children to bed.

How are you spending your time?

Dr John Demartini says that if you want to know someone’s values, look at how they spend their time.

If how you spend your time is not in line with what’s truly important to you, you’ll experience internal conflict. As an example, we’ve met with business owners who tell us their family is the most important part of their lives, yet they don’t see their children Monday through Friday, as they leave for work before they wake up, and get home after they are asleep.

We also know business owners who say their health is most important to them, and despite the fact their doctor has told them they need to lose weight, they can’t find time for exercise and healthy eating.

This is not a criticism – there is no right or wrong, good or bad when it comes to values and how your spend your time, just choices and consequences! Each of us chooses how we spend our time, and we can change it.

Here are some tips to make time management work for you:

1. Ensure what you spend your time on is in line with your own values, not someone else’s. 

When you don’t know what’s most important to you, you can find yourself helping others do what’s important to them. Are you  putting others’ priorities and needs before your own? If you tell yourself you “should” do something, is that message coming from you, or someone else? Focus on how you can spend your time in the most meaningful way for you.

2. Learn to say no, or not now. 

If you are a person who finds it hard to say no, you’re actually really good at it. When you say yes to others, you are sometimes saying no to yourself. Have you missed your exercise session because someone called and needed to talk? Skipped your plan to work on your own business to fit in a client’s emergency (that really could have waited til the next day)? Make appointments with yourself and keep them (just like you would an appointment with someone else) and start to put yourself first.

3. Own your choices – Don’t make excuses!

We often hear people say “I can’t because ….” or “I would, but…” followed by many reasons they can’t find time to exercise, work on their business, or do whatever is most important to them.

Take ownership of how you spend your time, and acknowledge that you have a choice. You are choosing one thing over another.

When you spend time cleaning your own house instead of employing someone to do it, you are prioritising money over your time.

When you exercise instead of spending time with friends, you are putting your health first at that moment.

When you sleep in instead of getting up to exercise, you are valuing one aspect of your health over another at that time.

If you’re not happy with the choices you’re making, change how you approach your decisions. Instead of taking a passive stance, “I can’t exercise because my business is so demanding”, be proactive and ask yourself “My business is demanding. How do I make time for exercise?” One business owner we know holds walking meetings with his team, so they communicate and exercise at the same time.

The answer is not in finding time, but taking it. We make time for things when they become urgent, pushing other things aside. The business crisis … the health emergency … the family relationship breakdown needing attention – could it have been avoided if you’d prioritised what’s important to you and made time for it?

Making time for what’s important to you is possible, and it will be at the expense of spending time on something else. Work out your values and choose how you spend your time accordingly.