Something we hear our clients say at the end of our workshop sessions is “how on earth am I going to find the time to put these new ideas into practise? I’m so busy all the time”.
Life never seems to slow down does it, we’re all busy, trying to be as productive as possible and always very aware that it’s impossible to wave a magic wand and stop time ticking whilst you catch up. How many times have you said “if I could just stop time for a bit so I can get this done!”? We all wish that sometimes.
But the simple truth is, you will never be able to completely manage time, and the day you accept this, it will instantly make you feel better. Time is unmanageable.
Instead of trying to manage time, focus on managing priorities.
You are not alone
The feelings of workload overwhelm and frustration about time are felt by us all at various times in our business lives. We asked a few of our Exeter business friends for their comments and advice about how time management differs when you run your own business, and you’ll find their advice in our next blog – thank you to all of our Exeter contributors.
Time is predictable
Remember that we all know that every hour has 60 minutes, every day has 24 hours and every week has 7 days. This is not new news – it happens this way everyday of our lives, so much so, that we never even question it. This is just how time works.
It’s the fact that we know this about the way that time works that should give us the confidence and reassurance that we can, indeed, manage priorities to fit into the time we have available.
Are you a big list-maker?
Many of us use lists to help us manage our time, but our advice is to take the list-making a step further. Stand by for a top tip!
When you make your list, do you ever complete the tasks from item 1, down to the last item, completing the tasks in the order you wrote them? Of course not, nobody ever does that.
Instead, we select the tasks we;
- really enjoy doing
- think we’re best at or
- think can be done super quickly (because we love ticking things off)
But often the most important tasks get left…. and left…. and left….. until Friday arrives and we feel a huge time pressure bearing down on us, often feeling like the week hasn’t been successful.
So, here’s our advice.
Write your list and then highlight ONLY the 3 most important things. These should be tasks that are going to give you or your business the biggest impact.
You’ll feel more productive, motivated and accomplished if you work in this way, focussing on your most important priorities and feeling like a top-class achiever.
And once the top 3 tasks are done, highlight another 3, until your list is diminished.
- If your list needs to be done more quickly than you think is achievable – delegate.
- If there are tasks on your list which you aren’t good at – find someone who excels at it.
- If there are tasks which fill you with dread because you simply just don’t like doing it – find someone who enjoys it.
Approaching your list in this way will help you to achieve more, but also try adding dates and deadlines to give you razor-sharp focus on all of the most critical tasks and priorities. You’ll be an achievement ninja! (no superhero outfit needed)
Set deadlines to improve your time management
It’s ok to have tasks on your list that aren’t important, or that you know will take some time and consideration, meaning they stay on the list for a while. That’s ok. But you need to set a deadline that reflects that, so simply set a longer deadline that allows you the time you need. If you don’t, you’ll have feelings of failure every time you see the unfinished task on your list. You might even want to make a separate list – a brainstorming list, or long-term project list. (I actually have a separate notepad for these types of lists)
For everything else, set a realistic deadline and make sure it’s meaningful. By meaningful, we mean that there’s an impact of this deadline not being achieved. If there’s no impact, then it’s a wish and not a deadline, and you need to remind yourself that it’s ok to have wishes, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve ‘wish deadlines’
Turning our time management advice into action
Our team of talented and experienced freelancers at Outsource South West are the perfect compliment to your growing business. We work with you on the tasks you loathe, or just aren’t that good at. Our approach is reliable and flexible and you’ll be surprised at how cost-effective outsourcing can be.
Whilst we’re supporting you, your focus can be turned towards bigger priorities, allowing you to grow and scale your business.
We hope you found this blog helpful – let us know if you try any of our suggestions out, especially if they work well for you.
Thanks for reading.
Here’s a few workshops we’ve got coming up that you might like to attend;
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