You’ve heard the cliches (time flies, just in the nick of time, time and time again, time’s a tickin’), and deep down you know how much time management matters. But are you really dedicating yourself to be effective with your time? As owner of an online business, time is going to be one of your most valuable assets. That is, if you use it well.
One CEO, Betty Liu, shared this telling story about when she first started her company, Radiate: “The biggest question investors asked most frequently was: What’s your runway? In other words, given how much money you have in the bank, how long can your company keep operating? 12 months? 24 months? 36?” The frequency of these questions and the questions themselves frightened Liu. However, they gave her a needed perspective. She said, “Because you are on such a time-sensitive trajectory, you literally can’t afford to be lazy.”
You, also, can’t afford to be lazy with your time. Every moment matters and either moves your business forward towards more success, or takes it a step back. Think about if you valued your time as much as you valued money. If you managed your time with the same dedication you track your finances with, you would see some incredible results. More tasks would get done and more projects could be accomplished, meaning that your business would run more smoothly and revenue should also increase.
“TIME IS ABOUT AS PRECIOUS AS THE CASH IN YOUR BANK…WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF TIME, IT’S BECAUSE YOU’VE RUN OUT OF MONEY. AND WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF MONEY, YOU’VE RUN OUT OF TIME.”
– BETTY LIU
Put in your full effort with every minute you have. Here are a few suggestions for how to get started on improving your time management skills, focusing on combating some of the most common time thieves you face.
Keeping a to-do list can be extremely helpful, but even more so when you prioritize your tasks. Without some sort of order your to-do list can be overwhelming and can cost you more time than its worth. As the head of your burgeoning business, there is always something to be done. But what tasks are the most urgent? Which ones are just busy work? Prioritize your to-do list and focus your efforts on completing projects that matter the most.
You probably will not finish everything on your to-do list. That’s okay! If you spend your time on the tasks that have a higher priority, your business is heading in the right direction.
Once you have a clear vision of which tasks are most important to accomplish, you can schedule out time for them throughout the day. Don’t have time to make a schedule for yourself every day? This is something you need to make time for.
When you don’t schedule out your day you are more prone to distractions and multitasking. Experts have said that “brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of someone’s productive time.” 40% adds up to about 16 hours out of your week, time that could have been spent on taking your business to the next level. Setting aside 15 minutes out of your morning to schedule your time each day is worth the 16 hours you’ll save.
Do you find yourself at one end of this spectrum? Either you spend WAY too much time answering emails each day or you see the messages piling up and keep them out of sight, out of mind? Email can be a major time killer, but not taking the appropriate amount of time to check your email can also be disastrous. An important email or notification can easily fall through the cracks, unnoticed until it’s too late.
As your online business is picking up, you can’t afford to let anything crucial fall out of site. But you also can’t afford to spend hours responding to people. Create a time in your schedule to answer emails or other messages. The rule of thumb when it comes to your schedule is to stick to it. Commit yourself to do nothing else in that timeframe and to end promptly when your allotted time is up.
Business meetings have become infamous with all the time they waste. They don’t have to be that way, though. Set a strict agenda for every meeting. If you get sidetracked (as we often do), go back to that agenda and cut down time on another topic of discussion. However, saying that you’ll keep to an agenda is a lot harder than actually keeping to it.
One rule to help with this: design meetings with a profitable purpose or don’t hold them at all. Don’t schedule a meeting just to waste time. Find a purpose, always keep it at the forefront of your thoughts and if you stray from that purpose, redirect or end/leave the meeting.
What’s Taking So Long?
Evaluate what else in your day takes up quite a bit of time. Should that task take so much time, or can it be reduced? Always be checking your progress on how well you are doing with your time management.
Just like with your meetings, keep your purpose in mind. Maybe your goal is to spend an ample amount of time growing your customer base. Or you want to focus on making your website more navigable for your audience. Whatever your purpose is, your priorities follow suit. Take the time you need on those priorities and brush aside time killers that keep you from them.