How to Make Time to Improve Your Business
As a business owner, your day can easily be spent serving the needs of clients, customers, vendors, contractors and employees. But when do you work on what YOU need? If you need to spend more time improving your business, here are 7 things you can do to get started.
Plan Every Day
This is a habit I've worked on since 2011. I had a day job and was trying to maximize all the other time I had so I could get back to working on (and in) my business again full time as soon as possible. Every day on a sheet of paper, I wrote down the hours of the day and what I'd do during each of them. Job stuff, business stuff, personal stuff, whatever. I got it out of my brain and onto paper. Now, it only takes me 30 seconds a day to throw my plan together, but it helps me set the course for how the day will go. Things don't always go as planned, but having a plan to fall back on helps me stay on track (as much as possible).
Where are you going and how do you know if you'll even get there? Know WHAT you want to improve in your business and by WHEN. When you're clear, the daily planning you're doing becomes easier and you can tweak it to ensure you're making time for the important tasks that will help you accomplish your goals.
Limit Work Starting Time
All those little things you do before you settle in to finally start working can really add up. The coffee making, checking email, checking Facebook, clearing a space at your desk. After you have your plan for the day, put a limit on your initial tinkering around so that you can get in your zone and start getting things done. Email and Facebook will be there. Organize your desk the night before, when you stop working, so you can start your day fresh. Be clear on your goals, lay down your plans and get to work.
Have you ever sat at your computer at 8am, started pounding at your keyboard and the next thing you know, its time for lunch? Been there, done that. Way too many times. No wonder I've crashed and burned a couple of times in my decade-long entrepreneurial journey.
If you burn out, you're of no use to anyone. You've got your limits, but here's what my doctors told me:
Eye doc: look away from my screen every 20 minutes for 30 seconds
Physical therapist: do my arm/wrist exercises and stretches 2-3 times a day. Take a quick walk every 2 hours.
You may not have screwed up a nerve like I did (working mucho hours a day and not positioning myself properly, even though I know better), but BEFORE something like that happens to you, get up, stretch, move your body, get away from your screens for a couple of minutes. Make it a habit. You'll thank yourself later.
I probably would have quit working on my business after a year if it hadn't been my network. It's grown and changed and strengthened over the years, but I continue to invest in it because I know what kind of impact it can have. Just the other day, someone in a group I'm in gave me some feedback about a new product I'm developing. She asked questions about what I do and, with little to no effort on her part, came up with three connections out of the blue that could be solid collaboration partners and speaking opportunities. Networking isn't always formal, and most of the best networking isn't. Being open to the feedback of a stranger lead to building a connection to her, to her three contacts, and to the networks of those contacts. Take time to connect with new people, check in on the ones you're connected to, and lend someone a hand. When you aren't in hard core sales mode and take time to be in relationship building mode, opportunities abound.
Get Some Accountability
This is huge if you're a solopreneur, but its important for any business leader. Even big time CEOs have brain trusts and mastermind groups they belong to. Why shouldn't you? When you work alone or on a small team and wear many hats, its easy to do for others and let yourself slip. Having an accountability partner or group for your business can help keep you on top of your goals and projects. No one likes telling other people you didn't do what you said you were going to do.
Last, but certainly not least – delegation. You can only do so much with the time you have. And do you really want to be busy working all the time? I doubt it. So, what you do? Change the way you spend your time. Delegation can be a huge help in this area. You can delegate to another person (intern, assistant, a professional you've hired) or to a system. Example – if you or your assistant spend each Friday following up on unpaid invoices, you might want to think about putting a system in place that automates payment reminders. One less thing to worry about.
Not sure how to start delegating and streamlining your business? Grab my free Streamline Your Business guide for some ideas to help you get started. Pop your email address in the box below.
Now that you know what you can do, start folding these things into your schedule one at a time. Once these become habits, you'll be amazed at what you're able to accomplish.