Having trouble managing your time? So am I, but here are some tricks I’ve learnt to make life a little easier.
Reclaiming your time
I’ve just returned from a retreat in the Whitsundays (it’s a hard life!) with a small group of entrepreneurs.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
We spent the weekend discussing all manner of things from venture capital acquisition and private equity funding through to web 2.0, emerging technologies and conducting business on an international scale. The intellectual debate was stimulating and we learnt a lot, exploring issues that, for some of us, were new territory.
What surprised me was that the most effective session of the weekend started with one of our colleagues admitting: “I self-sabotage everything and am not in control of my time.” Now these guys all run multi-million-dollar businesses and are highly successful in their fields, so it was brave of him to proclaim that.
What transpired from that statement was a conversation of sharing about managing our time and keeping on top of our inboxes and workflow. I’m positive I could write three books on the ideas that we came up with, but I’ve summarised a few that helped me the most.
I hope you’re able to see something that will help you immediately.
If you can do it in under two minutes, do it now. This makes sense. No point in double-handling a task that can be completed then and there. If you have a paper to sign or a quick email to respond to, and you know how to complete it immediately, do it now.
Delegate to others, according to their strengths. Every task or action that comes your way, make the first question to yourself: “Who can do this better than me?” People who have mastered their time have mastered delegation. Take this art a step further and get to know your people and their strengths. Believe it or not, others will thrive on being allocated a task that you won’t want to do.
For every to-do item, ask yourself what the next step is. I’m a culprit of this one. I’ll write on my weekly goal list an action item such as “Hire marketing executive”. That task weighs on my mind, and by the middle of the week it appears so daunting that I do my best to avoid it. Life is easier when I break the task down into “Write advertisement for marketing executive”, “Place advertisement”, “Send email to my personal network”. Tasks appear easier when broken down into action items.
Do what you’re good at – an oldie but a goodie. Give up doing the stuff that you struggle with. Get someone else to complement you. I’m a typical entrepreneur – don’t ask me to fill out a form or sit in a meeting for hours on end. I have people in my team that allow me to do the things that I’m good at, and they take care of the rest.
Focus on the outcome. What is the point of you completing something? Will it progress you towards your goal and outcome? If you’re strong enough to admit that it won’t, then just give it up and don’t do it. Only do the things that will lead you closer to your desired outcomes.
Emma Brown, at 27, has bought two businesses and sold one. She is Chief Chick of Business Chicks, Australia’s leading business community for women. She’s on the board of Entrepreneurs Organisation, and lives in Sydney with her fellow entrepreneur partner.
Rhonda Rasmussen writes: I am an innovator who is just starting out. I have been looking for a mentor and it seems that your retreat would have been fantastic. Not that I have earned a cent yet. I am still at the stage of spending the money but I do have one company that is prepared to sell my product. YEEEHHHH!!!!!
Anyway, I am not sure where you live but I am in Brisbane. If you are ever in Brizzy I would love to have a coffee with you.
Sarsha writes: I’m a business chick and always hear from a lot of girls on your team that, “I took the job to work with Emma”. Being curious as to why, I did some investigating and found out.
I now love reading the info and advice you provide because it’s relevant to me and makes sense for both of my “lives”. (I also own and run my own business as well as work for a company that gives me the money to pay off my home and shoe fetish!)
Thanks for being an inspiration to us chicks in our twenties who are trying go our own way. It’s nice to not be dictated to!
Hope to meet you one day at a Business Chicks event when I actually make it on time to find you and introduce myself.
Till then, keep smiling and enjoy.
Emma replies: Sarsha, your message really affected me, thank you. You’ve inspired me to do more and be more. Thanks again. Good luck with the shoe purchases (an admirable ambition!!!!) and of course with your business. Please do come up and say hi at our next event — I’d love to meet you.