Take your time back and grow your business

What’s your most valuable commodity? For me, the answer to that question is “my TIME”. Each of us only has so much time and when it’s gone you can never get it back.

When you’re in a leadership position (or any position for that matter) you should place a certain value on your time in order to be efficient in business and life. Each year I like to create a dollar value for each hour of my time and then weigh all other things against that particular hourly rate. For instance, if you value your time at $30/hour and you can get someone to mow your lawn for $25/hour, why would you mow your own lawn?

When I started PFSbrands out of my home almost 20 years ago, I was busy running from location to location selling programs, delivering products, buying products, and trying to manage all of the day-to-day duties that every start up business owner has to deal with. As my business scaled, I consistently had to adjust to the changes and decide where best to focus my time.  Today I’m consumed with meetings, emails, business development, overall strategy, and mostly helping to develop ways to make our employee owners and customers more successful.

As a servant leader and as the CEO of a high-growth company, a large portion of my work load comes from within me.  I have a strong desire to create more opportunities for our employee owners. I’ve come to realize that to be an effective leader and create a solid work/life balance, I need to consistently work on time management.

The last few years I have really focused on taking my time back and not letting workload control me. For you entrepreneurs out there that love what you do, you can relate to the challenges involved with implementing an “ideal” work/life balance. You have to be able to say NO if you want to get control of your time. When you agree to every meeting, take every phone call, get lost in email threads, and respond immediately to every email, before you know it your day is over and you really haven’t accomplished anything that moves your business forward. As they say, you’re working IN your business not ON your business and this can become a hard habit to break… But it’s doable.

Check out this 5-step process for developing the time management habits that will eventually get you working on your business instead of living in it.

5 Steps to Working on Your Business

Decide what’s important

First things first, what are 2-3 processes you can put in place or projects you can finish that will have the greatest impact on your business? Not JUST your business but your bottom line. I’m sure there are things you have been putting off because even though you know they will improve your business they just seem like too big of an undertaking. Work with your team to list out all of the things that have the potential to greatly impact your profitability. After listing all of these things, decide on the top 2-3 and schedule time each day to work on these priorities.

Stop doing tasks – delegate or automate

One thing many people who run their own business are proud of is the length of their to-do list. Like it’s a badge of honor. It’s not. I guarantee almost ¾ of the tasks on your list can be done by someone else, and in most cases, someone else can do it better than you. In many cases, items on your to-do list can be automated. I’m sure your to-do list is full of remedial tasks that you think YOU have to do. You don’t.

For any leader, I believe that a “stop doing list” is far more important than a to-do list. It’s time to stop doing these tasks all together or delegate these tasks to others. This will free up your time to work on what’s most important. Don’t have any employees? There are many great virtual assistant (VA) services out there to help you out. Just Google “virtual assistants” and you will find numerous options. Posting your content to social media? Delegate it. Sending follow-up emails? Automate it. Editing content? Delegate it. The list goes on and on. There are so many ways to free up your valuable time.

Start on the most important thing first (instead of putting it off)

After you’ve delegated (or automated) many of the tasks on your list, work on what’s most important. It can be daunting to start on a big company altering project.

One strategy to get started is using the methods described in 10 Minute Time Management: The Stress-Free Guide to Getting Stuff Done by Ric Thompson. Essentially, if you have a massive project you’re putting off, just schedule time on your calendar to work on it 10 minutes each day. These small time blocks can add up (and usually last more than 10 minutes once you get into them) as you work to complete your project. It’s a mind mastery strategy that could pay off for you.

Learn to say no

As I mentioned earlier, if you work in a company that is growing, at some point you will find yourself spread way too thin. The demands on your time will become endless. It is imperative that you learn to say NO. You can’t be everywhere at once nor can you be in every meeting, so learn to delegate and trust your employees. This can be extremely difficult for most business owners, especially founding business owners. It’s hard to say no when you want to be a part of everything about your business but it will pay huge dividends in the long run. It will allow you to really focus on what’s important for your business – growing it! One great book that really drives this home is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. As the book title implies, it’s essentially self-discipline.

Block out time for self-improvement and life needs

As you work towards delegating and saying no, another way to manage your time is to block out time on your digital calendar for self-improvement and life needs. Let’s face it, when pinched for time what goes out the window first? Training, reading, writing, eating, workouts, family time…etc. All of these self-improvement practices and vital life needs usually get pushed to the back burner in exchange for business tasks. I actually went through a period of about 3 years when I rarely ate anything until dinner. Take your time back and schedule 1-3 hours each day for the important things. Always make sure this time is blocked out on your digital calendar so your team realizes it’s off limits.

Wrap-Up

In reality, time management is a form of self-discipline. This has been a challenge for me. Like most entrepreneurs, I started my own business because I didn’t want the “structure” typically involved with working for others. However, as we’ve scaled, I’ve found that daily structure and routines have allowed me to be more effective as a leader and that same structure has helped to create a better work/life balance. If you want to grow your business you must:

  1. Have the self-discipline to decide what’s most important
  2. Stop doing remedial tasks
  3. Start doing important tasks
  4. Say no to unwanted meetings
  5. Block out time to accomplish the things that will make you a better person

You built your business and career from the ground up. You did this with persistence, determination and passion. Where it will go from here is up to your self-discipline. The self-discipline to take your time back!

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