We hear lots of reasons why communication gets pushed down the list in business. Our clients tell us they struggle to get round to it because they lack confidence, or clear direction, or skills, or – more often than not – time. Only this week, one of our favourite clients asked for our help in making more time.
Truth is, we all put off the things we don’t feel really comfortable doing, and we’ll talk more about how you can overcome procrastination in a future blog. But how do we make more time?
I was a spectacularly rubbish physics student at school, but I do know you can’t make MORE time. I also know, thanks to 20 years of being my own boss and being crazy-busy, that you can make the most of the time you have.
What could you do with an extra hour?
How much ‘more’ time you could win back by using it more wisely will vary, but just picture an ‘extra’ hour. What would that mean to you?
This weekend, we’ve lost an hour in the UK as our clocks spring forward to British Summer Time. I’m a sleep monster and I hate it, and it reminds me what difference just one hour makes.
Would one hour make the difference between ‘great’ and ‘amazing’ in your business? Or do you want just a little more time to spend with your family and friends? Wish you had more time to take better care of yourself?
Whatever your ‘why’ for making the most of it, time mastery is a crucial tool in your armoury.
So, in the latest in our ‘5 Ways To…’ series, here are some proven strategies to get more out of your time and watch your productivity soar.
BE REALLY CLEAR HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME
Our days are full of sneaky time-thieves, and it’s all too easy to invite them in and make them so confortable they never want to leave.
There are 1,440 minutes available to us every day – which sounds like a lot if you say it slowly, but when most things take blocks of tens or hundreds of minutes it’s really not that much. Do you really know how you spend your 1,440 minutes? I was shocked to realise how much time I spend on social media, for example, but I had to physically track and record the time to realise how much I was wasting.
Tracking your time also helps you better understand how long things actually take. Many of us have unrealistic ideas of what time is needed for a given task, either under- or over-estimating, which makes it really hard to make an achievable action list or schedule.
ELIMINATE, AUTOMATE OR DELEGATE
Once you know how you are spending your time, think about how you can make or save more time. What could you stop doing, or at least do less? (In a confession of falling domestic standards, I’ve stopped ironing bedding. And the sky hasn’t fallen in.)
Think about how you could use technology also, to speed up tasks or help you manage your time.
And do you really have to do everything yourself? Buying in help and services is a hit on your budget, but use the idea of that ‘extra’ hour to weigh up the value versus cost: what is the value of your time doing something else in that hour, and is it worth the cost of buying help with something else for that hour?
I remember a consulting colleague telling me they did their own tax returns, to save the accounting costs. When I asked them how long it took them to do something that really wasn’t their centre of expertise, they told me they spent a day on it each quarter. What they saved in accounting costs wasn’t even close to what they lost by essentially closing the shop and not delivering client work that day. Sounds obvious? It is, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have mental blocks on things we feel we should do ourselves.
SWAP YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR A SCHEDULE
This was game-changing for me. Like many business owners in a service industry, for a long time my only product was time. What I did with my time was based on my expertise, but my invoices were for time – so, guess what, time had a value for me, and time commitments were sacrosanct and honoured.
To-do lists? Not so much. I’m a huge fan of lists but they often misbehave and start to control us instead of serving us. It’s easy to ignore a task and roll it over to another day.
It’s harder to renege on a time commitment.
So make appointments with yourself to get things done, and make sure you show up! This also helps you avoid action lists that are simply too big for your day.
GET IT DONE
How many times have you put off the thing you really don’t want to do…the call you’ve been dreading, or the pitch that looks both complex and dull at the same time? (Assuming you’re not delegating it, of course.)
But then you spend the day with a cloud over your head, finding all manner of distractions to put it off and feeling subdued and demotivated by the nagging voice in your head.
You may have heard the expression ‘eat the frog’ – well, it works. Mean as it sounds, do your worst job first. You’ll be amazed at the extra energy and momentum it gives you for the rest of your day.
Hard truth – you probably can’t do it all. Even with strong time tools and strategies, you need to prioritise.
Another game-changer here is getting really clear about the difference between urgent and important. Ask yourself – is this really helping me achieve my goals? Is this moving me closer to where I want to be? If not, and it’s not the kind of ‘urgent’ that lands you in financial or regulatory trouble, or stymies your team, does it truly deserve your time right now?
You’ll never get those minutes to use again, so make sure you use them for the things that matter most.
Would a planner, full of blog prompt and social media post ideas (not to mention detail of national awareness and relevant hashtags) free up some valuable time in your day? Download your free planner today and we’ll send you an updated planner every month.
What strategies do you use to make the most of your time? What could you share that will help others? Drop us a comment below, or come and chat with us all on our Facebook page.
Until next week, when we’ll be sharing more communication ideas to help you grow your influence and your business – have a great few days, and enjoy those ‘extra’ hours you create!
Lucy and Emma