Pop Quiz time! (uh oh, were you prepared for this?)
Q: When you hear the words Strategic Time Management, what do you think?
- a) What is that?
- b) I've got that under control
- c) I could definitely use that!
If you answered a), c) or even b), then you will want to read on...that is of course unless you really should b doing something else right now.
I recently attended a dinner meeting for the Mercer Chapter of NJAWBO (NJ Association for Women Business Owners) which featured guest speaker Lorette Pruden of Team Nimbus NJ, offering small business insight and solutions. The topic of the night was Time Management. As a small business owner who works form home in between my daughter's naps, playdates, library visits, and occasional tantrums, and balances clients and my ever demanding blog, I desperately needed some advice!
I'm sure most of us have a system that we follow for our business. We may be operating on a calendar and/or "To Do" list that is paying off. But Lorette's process that evening was to make us really take a look at what we WANT to be doing in our business and what we NEED to STOP doing. And then are there any tasks that we could delegate to others to accomplish. And even though this might mean putting out some money to hire someone, this person could help to bring in more revenue and make you a more productive business owner in the end.
Lorette's Strategic Time Management activity began with a question:
- What are you trying to create? What type of business do you want that will support the life you want to live? And what do you want to do with the money (i.e. pay bills, save for retirement, fund college, etc)
For the next step, think about a typical work day and write down what you'd like to START doing, what HAS to be done, and what HAS to go.
- For those of us who work from home, a common "Do" task might be to schedule a block of time for tasks like making phone calls and responding to emails.
- A common "Don't Do" task might be to take care of household chores during "office hours" when you know something for your business needs to get done.
Once you have honestly written out your lists and really examined what needs a change, then it's time to figure out if any of the START or DO items can be given to someone else (whether an intern or PT/FT employee).
Lastly, you'll want to sit down in front of a monthly, weekly or even daily calendar. Plan out your month with appointments, meetings, etc. Perhaps you have a day of the week that is dedicated to administrative stuff or there's a day when you want to be out meeting with clients. Then on the weekly calendar, this is where you design you day with blocks of time for the various START and DO tasks. Let yourself be flexible just in case some of these tasks take longer then planned. You'll find that the more structure you make for yourself, the more efficient and productive you'll become.
As I write this, I think about the structure I made with my daughter: Monday is food shopping day, Tuesday and Wednesday are flex days (either the library, MOMS Club event, etc), Thursday is either library or playdate and Friday is library. She then has lunch at 11 and nap at 12. It took me a little while to figure out a system that worked, but it makes everything so much easier and I could then plan my work day around her schedule. Just as you have to get your children into a schedule that works for everyone, we should be applying the same mentality to our businesses. In my case I have two businesses to organize: H. Morris Solutions, LLC (my pr, event planning company) and this blog. It'll take some time, but I feel like Lorette gave me a good place to start.
This 4-step process is really only a blueprint/sketch of a time management plan and I am merely the messenger. I am no expert nor am I completely practicing what I've learned (yet). But Lorette is the architect who can help you and me build a business that works with our goals, time and ability.
For more information or to speak with Lorette, visit www.teamnimbusnj.com or call 908-359-4787. You can also join her Meetup group, Small Business Insight Lunch, to gain some better business practice strategies and network with other business owners in the area.
What are some time management techniques that have worked for you and your business?