Advice:Time is money

By , published on 9th May 2011

As anybody running a small business will tell you, time is a precious commodity. Trying to balance the demands of daily tasks that have to be done and the long-term projects that really drive your business forward, is a constant battle.

With so many URGENT matters competing with IMPORTANT jobs you can easily find that all your time goes on fire-fighting, leaving you with very little time to spend on the projects that really determine the long-term success of your business.

When you’re running a business time is your most precious resource. Many people will tell you that money is the most important factor, but I don’t agree – time is.

If you need money, you can get a loan, use factoring, sell some equity or use any number of ways to get your hands on some cash – but you can’t create time. Once time has slipped through your fingers, there’s no getting it back.

There are short-term answers to the ‘not enough hours in the day’ problem. You can sleep less, spend less time with your family and friends, you can even work 24 hours a day for a short time. But these aren’t long-term solutions. To run a small business well, it’s crucial you make the most of the time you have available to you.

Analyse where you currently spend your time

When you set about trying to manage your time more effectively the first thing you need to do is to analyse where you currently spend your time. Over the course of a few days, or preferably a week, keep a diary and make a note of where your time goes.

When you tot up at the end of the week you’ll probably be quite surprised and you’ll immediately see a few areas that you can address straight away.

Focus on what’s most important

With time being so precious, it’s critical that you spend the majority of your time working on the factors that are important to the success of your business and eliminate the time you currently spend on less important matters. Focus on the ‘must-do’ jobs and leave the ‘nice to do’.

Sure in an ideal world we would all get everything done. But when you’re running a business it’s important to be realistic, and it’s not realistic to think that you can get everything done all of the time.

Plan every day

During the course of a day it’s easy to be deflected from the tasks you initially set out to do. The phone ringing and a constant stream of emails are common distractions for most of us.

The best way to keep yourself focused on the IMPORTANT jobs is to make a plan for your day. Planning your day gives it structure, breaks bigger and more daunting projects down into more manageable chunks and means you set yourself a good number of short-term goals.

If you give yourself an hour to complete a job, you’ll be far more focused on completing it in that time. If you don’t give yourself that deadline it can drag on for hours. Of course, you need to learn to give yourself a realistic amount of time for each task in the first place!

Beware the heavy price of perfection

Finally, when you are trying to maximise the effectiveness of your time you should be aware of the heavy price of perfection.

Striving for perfection is a laudable aim, for many of us it’s ingrained in our psyche ( guilty as charged!!). But when you’re running a small business, perfection is often an unrealistic and ultimately damaging aim. It makes more sense to consistently aim high than to try and achieve perfection every time.

The time you spend on progressing a task from ‘high quality’ to ‘perfect’ is rarely time well spent. The return you get for investing your most valuable resource in making such a small gain, means it’s a relatively poor use of your time.

Once it’s good enough, stop and move on to the next job on your plan. It will be time better spent.

Need help in focusing on the ‘must do’ jobs?

Then contact me at Janette Whitney & Associates on 01403 733671 for professional & impartial advice

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Janette Whitney

About Janette Whitney

Janette Whitney is an award-winning business consultant, media columnist and award-winning business author. She specialises in business growth strategies and finance and formed her consultancy business after a highly successful career in banking. Janette’s expertise has won her both national and regional awards which include ‘Consultant of the year’ and ‘Business Book of the Year’ award (as co-author of ‘The Essential Business Guide’).

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