Turning Time Into Money
Business owners can improve their productivity–and drive the success of their enterprise—by adopting a proactive and thoughtful approach to time management.
Time is money.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but I wonder how successful you are at turning time into money in the day-to-day operation of your business. Are you making the time to do all of the things that will increase your sales and improve your profitability? Or are you spending your days reacting to whatever the day brings you?
Most small business owners and managers spend at least part of their day in “fire fighter” mode, and to some degree, that’s necessary. But a little bit of planning, and a more proactive overall time-management strategy, can help you get more done, in terms of both quantity and quality.
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Your Many Hats
The typical small business owner/manager wears a lot of hats. For example, you’re the chief executive officer, the chief operating officer, probably the chief marketing officer, and possibly the chief technology officer. You may also be the human resources manager, the facilities manager and the person who writes the checks to pay the bills.
In big companies, those are titles held by separate individuals, and they are often staffed with other assets. In a small company, they tend to be hats that one person wears, and responsibilities that he/she has to balance.
The best way to manage all of that is to plan your day around blocks of time, during which you will wear specific hats. Here’s the key to this strategy: When you’re wearing a hat, you only do work connected with that hat, unless something of a much higher priority convinces you to change your initial plan. You do not allow yourself to be easily interrupted by less important tasks.
Managing Your Time
You can set the size of the blocks to whatever you need, based on the tasks at hand. Let’s say you start the day with 10 tasks on your plate, relating to four different hats. Maybe your plan involves spending the 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. block wearing one hat that involves fewer tasks, and the 10:00 a.m. to noon block wearing another that is needed for more, and so on.
The next step is to “publish” your plan for the day. This essentially means telling your employees what hats you will be wearing at what times and, most importantly, asking them not to interrupt you unless something is critically important and time sensitive.
The objective here is twofold. First, you want to eliminate the inefficiency of starting something and then being interrupted and then having to restart it—possibly several times. Second, the process of establishing a “blocks and hats” plan at the beginning of the day helps you to prioritize. You have tasks and you have time, the challenge is to assign the right amount of time to each task in order of priority.
One final suggestion: Since you know that you will likely need time every day to react to whatever the day brings, build that into your strategy by including a couple of blocks of time in every day to wear your “firefighter” hat.
David M. Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, Cary, N.C.-based sales and marketing consulting firm serving numerous segments of small business America. He is the author of The Small Business Book: 10 Ways to Make Your Small Business More Successful and Listen To The Dinosaur, which Selling Power magazine listed as one of its “10 Best Books To Read in 2010.”
His articles on sales, marketing and management topics have appeared in a variety of publications, and he is a popular speaker who has delivered seminars and keynotes at events across the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.