I came to the office on a Saturday morning with just three things on my to do list.
- Write a proposal
- Compile summary notes after a client meeting
- Write copy for an ad
What I did instead
- Wrote two blog posts. I was inspired and wanted to get the ideas out before I forgot. I really like the two blog posts.
- Got caught up on my accounting – It was the end of the month, and I wanted to know how we finished up. I balanced the checking and credit card statements. I actually enjoy doing a little math.
- Tested a new floor cleaner on our hard wood floors. In a 65 year old building our floors are a little worse for wear. I bought a bottle of Bona and wanted to see how the floors would look if I used it instead of water. They look a lot better, and I am definitely going to make sure my cleaning crew only use that from now on.
- Cleaned up our email lists. I have wanted to do some tests on our email with different designs and different offerings, but the first step was the list clean up and now that is done.
It was a productive few hours. So when I left, I felt good about all I had accomplished. Everything I spent time on was a good, worthwhile activity. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best use of my time. Those three really important tasks didn’t get done. Like many small business owners, I allowed myself to be distracted and never got around to doing the things which really needed to be done.
My morning was the perfect example of what author Jim Collin meant when he said “Good is the enemy of great.” If we spend too much time on the wrong things, there is no energy, time or resources left over for the really great things. The things which will move your company forward. So how do you find time for the great things?
Create a to do list and stick to it.
Make a list of all the things you need to accomplish. Then set priorities. Decide which are top priority and put those on the top of the list. Set time aside for these specific activities. And don’t compromise. Unless the building is on fire, spend the allotted time working on the things you have identified as most important.
Use tools but don’t expect them to solve the problem.
I use Insightly to collect and organize my tasks. While this helps, unless some part of the program will reach out from the computer and slap me when I go to work on something else, I can’t rely just on a software product. The solution has to come from me.
Sometimes we avoid tasks because they aren’t fun, take too much time or are simply boring. One of the first things you need to do is figure out why you are avoiding the task. If it is going to take too much time, break it in to smaller steps. Set aside a little time each day to work on it. Then give yourself a reward when you finish part of the project.
What should your reward be? Maybe it is a walk outside, a few quick minutes on social media, a piece of chocolate or a conversation with someone you have been meaning to catch up with. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way when it comes to motivating us to work on things we don’t want to do.
I have this amazingly talented team, and they can do lots of stuff if I will just ask. As a business owner, sometimes I feel like it has to be me and other times I don’t really want to push off a small task. But I just need to get over it. If I want the business to grow I need to be spending my time on the things which will make us great.
Back to work
So I have enjoyed writing this blog post, but now it is time to get back to work. What about you? How do you manage your time?
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