Being a small business owner is a mammoth task. You basically need to be an expert in financial management, market research, business strategy, sales, marketing, HR and change management, plus numerous other fields.
Furthermore, even if you have dedicated employees for each of these fields, you could easily be spending your entire day fighting fires for these employees, or jumping between operational tasks like customer calls, overseeing accounts, helping manage HR issues etc. The list goes on, and on, and on.
In fact, most business owners believe that being the first one into the office, and the last one out, 365 days of the year simply comes with the territory.
Because of this, burning out is a real threat. Even if your business is going ok financially, the stress, physical and mental exhaustion it’s creating in your personal life, may mean you feel like you finish the day further behind than when you started. Your ‘To-Do’ List just keeps getting longer and, in our experience, often exhausted business owners just feel like they are not getting anywhere. You could even be wondering why you are “in business” in the first place.
You Are Not Alone.
To help, we asked our team of business coaches here at Kaibizzen to put together a list of “7 Ways To Get Your Time Back As Busy Business Owner”, to get you started on the right track and reclaim some of your time.
Time with family, friends and doing the things you love.
Time for your health.
Time you cannot put a price on.
So let’s jump into it!
The 80/20 rule was discovered by Italian Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923), an economist, sociologist, and the Professor of Political Economy at Lausanne in Switzerland. He observed that 80% of income in Italy was created by 20% of the Italian population.
Today millions of businesses use Vilfredo’s 80/20 rule to gain clarity around the most important things you should be focusing on. Here is how it works:
a) Figure out the 20% of activities that are producing 80% of desired results.
b) Figure out the 20% of activities that are taking up 80% of your time.
Now consider focusing on the 20% of activities that are producing the biggest results and removing, delegating or outsourcing the 20% of activities that are chewing up most of your time. You might notice some overlap, that is fine, this is just an exercise to help you uncover the real time wasters in your business.
When you run a small business, it can often seem like what needs to be done is infinite, and all your tasks require equal attention, or are based on those that scream loudest.
Turn your “to-do” list into a “to-achieve list”. For example, the task may be to “phone 5 new leads”. Change the wording to “book appointments with [5 Names}. The psychology behind this is that an overwhelming or unpopular task suddenly becomes something that is more inspiring to do. Also it enables you to become really clear on what your highest priorities for the day REALLY are.
The best time to do this is at the end of every day, in readiness for the next day. That way,
your subconscious works on it overnight while you sleep,
you don’t wake up at 3am because you’ve suddenly remembered something to add to your to-do list
and you come into work already clear and focussed on what you need “to-achieve” that day.
Narrow your “to-achieve” list down to just 2-3 items a day, and knock them over. Push the rest to the next day, and on the next day, do the same. You may end up with many tasks that are pushed out, but like the 80/20 rule, that is the point. You can focus on what is most important and get it done.
You might be thinking “no way is this possible”. However even if your list is 5 things, the discipline behind the methodology works!
While it is important to keep up to speed with what is happening in your industry and all of your client’s communications, email can be a massive time waster.
This is because email is often reactive, not proactive.
Instead, schedule “email time” and approach it like every other task. Even close your email program until it is email time. One of the biggest time wasters is checking your emails first thing of a morning, as it takes your focus away from what you had “to-achieve” for the day. Instead, schedule email time for 10am over a coffee, reply to the most urgent and flag the rest. Then close your email and do not revisit until 3pm (again over a coffee).
Answer any new “urgent emails” and if you have time, attend the ones you flagged in the morning. The reason behind this madness, to free you up to focus on the 20%, or 2-3 outcomes that you have defined in steps 1 and 2.
If you’ve ever worked in a large corporate company, you’ll know how much time gets wasted in meetings. Everyone with a desk feels they need to attend, and vast amounts of time, productivity and therefore revenue go out the window.
The fix, cap meetings at 30 minutes and only have the vital people in the meeting. Set a super clear agenda that’s no more than 2-3 points (1 point ideally), and fix or conclude the next step for that point in no more than 30 minutes.
As the old saying goes, “when you are working in your business, you are not working on it”. And sometimes all that is needed for a breakthrough, is time away from the daily fire-fighting.
Going for a leisurely bike ride to somewhere new, go for a hike up Mt Coot-tha, drive to the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast and find a beach you love, whatever it is, try to find a low impact activity that will take you fully away from your business and help you clear your mind. Now when you are all alone, think about where your industry is going, where do you want your company to go, what can you be doing different or better, how can you better motivate your team etc.
This simple time away is invaluable and can be more productive than being in the office. During this time you can also check-in with your health, something many small business owners sadly put aside.
Are you more focused in the morning? What time of day is the worst for you? When do you seem to get your best work done? By scheduling your day around your energy levels, you can quickly increase your productivity levels.
Perhaps even more important, your “energy schedule” will help you through the hardest times in your day, so you do not have that feeling of failure or spend too much time on a task because you are doing it with the wrong energy levels.
Easier said than done right? Well, the success and growth of your business all revolve around delegating. That is why you should only ever hire A-grade staff who know more than you do, so you can feel confident delegating.
Unless you are just starting up or a freelancer, you should never need to take on the burden of moving your business forward. Instead, become an expert delegator and empower your employees. They will be happier, and you will be able to get back the time you deserve and “to-achieve” the things that are most important. Again we know, especially when it is your name and reputation of the business on the line, but with the right advice and strategy in place, it’s certainly much simpler.
Kaibizzen is a team of renown business coaches who work with clients all over Brisbane and Queensland to achieve better, faster growth, wealth, system strategies and team happiness.
You can see some our client’s testimonials here or get in touch on 1300 524 296 if you want back your time. We’d love to learn about your challenges, goals and show you how we’ve helped other business owners become happier, more productive and much more content.
What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.