Recently, Laurey Buckland has done a series of talks at local networking events on the topic of Time Management. Here she shares her top tips for being the most effective business leader you can be.
Time management is always a hot topic amongst The Passionate PA team, and a conversation that comes up regularly with our clients too. Everyone wants to know how to manage it better but, the concept itself is impossible. You cannot and will never be able to manage time. It is an abstract concept.
You can, however, manage yourself. You can take responsibility for how productive you are in the time you have available.
All great business people have exactly the same number of hours in the day as you – so what’s the difference between their success and yours? The answer is simple; how they choose to use their time, and how productive they are as a result.
So, how can you manage yourself, and therefore your time, more effectively to live your best life, help your business thrive and, in turn, ensure your clients get the best service you can offer?
Here are my top tips:
Complete the most important tasks first.
This is the golden rule of effective business management. Many call it ‘eating the frog’ in reference to getting the ‘worst’ or largest job done first. But really, it is all about identifying the most crucial tasks.
Identify two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete and do those first. Once you have done these, your day is already a success.
Block out distractions.
Prioritise yourself and your business. If you have a lot to get through, it is useful to close the office door for a set amount of time and put your computer’s ‘do not disturb’ function on. Put your phone on silent and allow yourself to focus. Be strict with yourself (and others) and channel your attention by using only one device.
Don’t strive for perfection.
Always keep the bigger picture in mind; contrary to popular belief, perfectionism is not a positive mindset. Do the job to the best of your abilities, in the sensible amount of time allotted, and move on.
Have a ‘jobs to-do’ list every day.
As a Passionate PA, I have an endless ‘to do’ list for myself and my clients and there are four classification of job type:
- Important and Urgent (do these immediately)
- Important but not Urgent (block time in your diary/schedule to complete these)
- Urgent but Not Important (delegate these tasks if possible, do during allotted admin time)
- Not Urgent and Not Important (Make a note of these so you don’t forget they need doing at some point – they may well become Urgent and then they move around the grid!)
It is also important to always leave yourself buffer time in your diary every day and not fill every second. You need wiggle room if Important and Urgent tasks arise.
Organise your inbox.
People with cluttered inboxes spend much more time on their emails than needed. Or, they don’t spend any time whatsoever and as a consequence, miss things or annoy people that are trying to work with them by not responding efficiently.
I recommend diarising two slots each day for email management – no more than this and certainly do not have it open all day as this allows it to step your attention when you need to be focusing on other tasks.
Folders and sub-folders are crucial, as is using the flagging tool for items you need to come back to or are waiting on a reply to.
Diarise a monthly time to clear the inbox – if an email is just sat there waiting for you to respond, question why. If you really don’t want to deal with it, DON’T. But take ownership of that decision and either delegate or tell the sender (nicely) that they are not on your priority list.
Sleep, exercise and take time to relax.
Tired people procrastinate more and get distracted easily. Allowing yourself downtime between tasks can be a breath of fresh air for your brain.
Go for a walk, a run, meditate or perform whatever mind-clearing exercise works for you. I often have my best ideas when out running. Like my feet, my mind wanders and arrives at some truly fantastic revelations… my present business included!
Be assertive and don’t be afraid to say no.
Every time you decide to do something, you are effectively deciding to NOT do everything else. So, are you certain that what you are doing is the best use of your time?
Be assertive about interruptions. It takes courage and honesty to do this, but people will respect you for having a ‘no crap’ policy in your life.
Outsourcing could be the answer.
As a business owner, question whether you are spending time on tasks which can be done by someone else? You know, the jobs you dread, are inefficient at or those that simply do not increase your profit margin? Knowing how much your time is worth and how much of it you are spending on things that are not bringing in new business or helping it develop and grow will dramatically change your mindset – get calculating!
Every business can outsourcing something, and there is a wealth of skilled and talented freelancers and specialists out there that can add to your business (and life in general!). Talk to us to find out more – if we can’t help, we’re sure to know someone that can from across our incredible network.
Let enjoyment be the goal.
Business owners often get so caught up in the ‘busyness’ of our work, that we forget to enjoy what we are doing. Even when we focus on working SMARTER, we are still often too focused on simply getting things done. If you love your work, it doesn’t feel like work – and as a result you will be more productive and dedicated.
Think about reshaping your business to spend 80% of your time on the bits you enjoy. We’ve seen clients do this and they have achieved incredible results in everything from personal health, staff happiness, client orders and profit margin! You have to be brave to push beyond the norm and your own limiting beliefs, but that’s where the magic happens.
To conclude, time is not just money.
Time is family.
Time is friends.
Time is happiness.
Time is recovery.
Time is precious and we only get each day once.
Be brave, use your time wisely.
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