A lot of people believe money is their most important resource, but we think they’re misguided.
Their most important resource is time.
You can get more money through various avenues but once time is gone, it’s gone forever. You can’t buy more or borrow more, so time is a limited resource that expires every day. As a business owner, you have to be very careful with this precious resource.
Other people are more than willing to take your time. You’ve undoubtedly experienced getting stuck on a phone call or having someone drop by your office without an appointment. Some people think that because you’re a business owner and have more control over your time, you have more availability. They don’t realize they’re wasting precious minutes or can’t understand why you’re unable to get together with them at inconvenient times (family and friends can be the worst culprits).
To better guard your time, consider these time thieves and how you can control them:
E-mail. We’re all bombarded with e-mail and it’s one of the worst offenders. It’s easy to develop a habit of constantly checking your e-mail, especially when one of those little windows appears on your monitor telling you a new one has arrived. Who can stand the suspense? But this can be a huge time waster. Consider setting aside certain times each day to read and answer email, and learn to resist the temptation to even glace at your inbox outside those times.
Meetings at inconvenient times. Scheduling a meeting at 2 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. can blow your entire afternoon if it chops up your day. Figure out a scheduling process that will work for most days and try to stick to it. For example, we schedule 2-hour client meetings at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. so we can work four clients into a day. Scheduling someone at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. limits the number of clients we can see.
Not creating or sticking to agendas. Meetings can get totally out of hand if people are allowed to go off on rabbit trails. Not following an agenda and controlling how the meeting progresses will waste your time.
Not having a gatekeeper. Whenever possible, even the smallest business needs someone to screen calls. This can be accomplished through in-house staff or an answering service. Your gatekeeper serves as a shield between you and solicitors, or calls that might not fit into your schedule and would be a disruption.
Doing too many of the little things. An unwillingness to delegate work to others can rob you of time you could spend more profitably elsewhere. It can also steal your personal time by forcing you to work later to get everything done.
Not scheduling time for routine tasks. It’s easy to get busy and put off doing some of the routine tasks in the business, like paying bills or quarterly taxes until they become time-critical. Then you’re forced to give them your immediate attention, whether or not it’s convenient. Your day is disrupted and your time stolen.
You can either master your time or be a slave to it. You can allow other people to steal your time or you can be in control. Time is your most valuable resource and must be guarded carefully or you won’t have enough of it.
Laddie and Judy Blaskowski are co-owners of Business Truths, a Springs-based small business consulting firm. Reach them at Laddie@businesstruths.com