Recently, a business owner shared with me that during an evening walk with his family, he spent the entire time on the phone, basically ignoring the people most precious to him. He was annoyed, discouraged, and disappointed in himself. Sound familiar? I hope not, but if this sounds like you read on.
Being successful means having healthy relationships, with your family, friends, associates, your business, and yourself. Like personal relationships, there are signals that your relationship with your business needs some attention. Here are a few signs that you are out of balance:
- You feel like you never have enough time.
- You believe that you must oversee everything or do it yourself.
- Time off is a luxury you think you cannot afford.
Time Management is a Myth
Let’s get this one out of the way first. No one can manage time. As the popular song says, there are five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes in a year. There are 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day. You cannot create more time or rearrange it to suit you. What you can do is Master your time.
The first step in Time Mastery is to learn how you are spending your time. Choose a few days and track everything that you do in 15-20 minute increments. The results might surprise you. That quick phone call may have turned into a 30-minute, unproductive discussion.
Delegating administrative tasks, or low value/low enjoyment tasks frees up your time for things you do enjoy and boosts your productivity. Learn to recognize time stealers – clients texting you, social media posts. (Mine is reading an article on LinkedIn that links to another article, which links to another article…)
You have a Business Plan, you need to plan your time as well. In advance. Set up a default calendar with recurring tasks/events. Fill in with other tasks and projects, including time for your health and enjoyment. Then honor those times. Write out your To Do list for tomorrow before you leave the office today. That way you come in knowing what you need to do and can get a productive start to your day.
When you own a business, it is tempting to do everything yourself. The reality is that very few of us are good at every task. Take an honest look at yourself. Yes, you can spend a weekend doing your own taxes, and you may even get them right. The other option is to hire a tax professional and know that it is correct, plus you will get their guidance on your finances.
At one low point on my first business, I begrudgingly would come into my offices on a Sunday to clean them. There I was, the business owner, scrubbing floors and scraping crud off the microwave. Then I went home to a dirty house that I was too tired to clean. The wake-up call was when my middle-school child asked if I could show her how to do her laundry since I had not done it. Yikes!
If there is a task that you can do, maybe not well, but hate doing or you just don’t have the knowledge or skill to do it properly, hire someone else to do it, internally or externally. Often, the cost of getting it wrong is far greater than the expense of using a professional. Think of it this way…you can watch a video and try to fix your plumbing, or you can hire a licensed plumber and know that your home is safe and comfortable for your family, and the work is guaranteed. Do you really know about all of the taxing districts for your employees? Not sure? Time to shop for a payroll service.
I often hear business owners say they feel guilty when they are not working on the weekend when they know there is work to be done. If that’s you, ask yourself this: when you work for 70-80 hours in a week, how many hours are truly productive? Have you ever stayed late only to come in the next day and fix the mistakes you made? Taking time off for rest, relaxation and self-care will actually make you more productive and able to focus. Your guilt should come from not taking care of yourself properly. Read about the importance of vacations here.
Let’s talk about your family and friends. In five years, will you be remembered as the person who closed a $2 million deal, or the parent who never missed a game, or the friend who brought a meal to a sick neighbor? Take a good look at your true values. Are you living them?
Respect your time and your value. There is an inclination to just do something yourself with the false belief that it will be faster. Training someone else takes time initially; however, it will free up much more of your time in the long run, allowing you to focus on more productive tasks. Set expectations for your team, and then hold them accountable. When you “clean up” after them you have sent the message that poor performance is acceptable. If you re-do everything someone else has done, you are telling your staff that they have no value.
Many people believe that if they just work a little harder and a little longer, the To Do list will magically shrink. Building systems and documenting processes requires an initial investment in time. It is work that is done once that then allows you to scale your business. Think about a task you perform infrequently. Part of your time is spent trying to remember how to start. Creating a document or video of instructions will not only be more efficient the next time you perform the task, it will also allow you to delegate it to someone else next time.
I have used the word “delegate” multiple times, for a reason. A passionate business owner truly wants to deliver the best possible product or service. As your business grows you will need to rely on your team. They may never do things exactly how you would, and you will need to be okay with that. It is your responsibility to create job descriptions and training plans so that everyone knows what they are expected to do and are qualified to do it. If you feel the need to oversee EVERYTHING, either you have not done your job and trained your people properly or you need to hire different people. Once trained and empowered to do their jobs, your employees may surprise you and come up with improvements.
Keeping your relationship with your business healthy requires planning and discipline. If you are struggling with time mastery, delegation, or setting and achieving goals, let’s do a strategy session. You and your family deserve it.
Schedule your free Strategy Session here.
Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY