When you are starting a new business there is so much to achieve and only 16 hours of awake time to achieve it in. If you have no systems or are not planning your day well, your brain can go into overflow, mistakes happen and things fall through the cracks. If you are not managing your time and the people who report to you, then time will manage you and chaos will follow.
Being organised, managing your time and being as productive as possible are some of the greatest challenges you will face.
I have some basic techniques that have helped me manage my time while running my business;
Your diary is your boss
Manage your diary effectively. Have times when you respond to emails, times when you have meetings and other times when you can have brain space to think and plan. Take control of your time or time will control you. If you do not do this, then you will find that you can spend your days just responding instead of moving forward.
Before I finish for the day, I make a list of priorities that need to be achieved the next day. I also have a pad and pen beside my bed so when that idea comes up I can add it to the list and not lie there worried that I will forget it in the morning, in which time I do not sleep.
You do know that when you cross off a ‘to do’ item you get an endorphin rush
I love the TASK tool on Outlook
This is my saviour. I have used this to help me mange my direct reports. It enabled me to send docs and requests to an individual so that we both had a record. This task would have a time required for the request to be finished and who was responsible for it. I would then meet weekly with my reports to go through all the tasks and items listed. The agreement would be that if the date was not achievable then they would let me know and we would adjust. This helped keep everything on track. With opening 100 stores in four years, if there was a weak link or deadlines missed then the whole process would fall over, so it was so important that people achieved what was required and by when. Get to know this tool. It enabled me to stop things falling through the cracks, give priority to my reports and enable everything to stay on track.
Maximise your minutes
I used every minute of the day productively. If I was in a taxi, I would get my laptop out and before I drove anywhere I would make a list of people I needed to call.
A PA or EA is not a luxury
The biggest complaint I hear from people is that there is not enough time in the day and they wished they were two people. So I ask them; out of their day what percentage could be passed onto someone else? i.e. going to the bank, sitting on hold to Telstra, paying bills, taking calls, booking flights etc etc… and the answer is often 35-40%. So if you hire a PA to assist with the ‘other stuff’, then you should be 35-40% more productive?! We have our working life and we have our personal life and at the end of the day, we need to manage both, so a PA is critical in enabling you to have more time in your day to be as productive as possible.
Technology has been an amazing development in making us more productive, but by doing so the expectation of achieving more has been created. No longer do people wait a day for a response. We are now an instant society and there is a tendency to go with this and get caught up in the rush. We also tend to lean towards what we like to do, not what needs to be done. Some of these techniques will help you get done what needs to be achieved.
At the end of the day we are all very different and certain systems work better for different personality types. Keep trying different systems until one works for you. Do a time management course as there may be a system there that could be amazing for you.