This is the third installment in our Declutter Your Life blog series, designed to give you the clarity and space you need to grow your business. Read our first and second installments.
If you’ve followed along in this series, you’ve (hopefully) started the work of organizing your inbox and your physical environment in a way that allows you to focus on your priorities as a business owner. In this piece, we’ll home in on your most valuable resource—time.
Every owner we’ve met struggles with time management—they want more time, both to do the strategic work of their business and for their life outside work. Some we know have figured out how to have it.
So how can you do the same? Create a calendar that supports and protects the time you have, so you can carve out space to do the things that matter most. But for some, this doesn’t seem simple. Here’s a clear strategy for more effectively managing your time.
Build your schedule around your priorities
It’s not enough to simply have a calendar. You need to know how to use it well. For most business owners, the day can quickly be eaten up by tactical work and putting out fires—things that don’t even make it onto a calendar, leaving you no time for your priority work. Our clients use our Daily Time Log to track their time to see just how much of it goes to this tactical work. You may find it enlightening to do the same.
To ensure you get to your daily priorities, you have to set aside the time to attend to them. So the first step to using your calendar well is scheduling time for every high-priority task of your day. That way, you know you have the space to accomplish them.
Here are some tips.
Plan your day before you get to work
Once you step into work, there will inevitably be people who need things from you and fires to put out. So take 10 minutes to write your daily schedule before you leave the house so you can stay on track.
Use your calendar for everything—not just your meetings
Use it to create an intentional routine that works best with your own rhythms and those of your team. If you need to write emails to five customers and you focus best on writing and emailing in the morning, block off 30 minutes before 10 a.m. on your calendar. If you need to have regular one-on-ones with an employee and you know that afternoons work better for both of you, lock in a recurring afternoon meeting on your calendar.
Weave in your daily priorities
Not only will you have a better shot at getting these things done, but as you step back to review your week, you’ll have a clear picture of your accomplishments. If you and your team use a shareable calendar like Google Calendar, you’ll also prevent your team from thinking they can snag that time in your day by blocking off your calendar with your highest-priority to-dos.
Set aside time to work on your business every day
No one is going to focus on the work of developing your business but you. So block out an hour every day for that. In the EMyth Coaching Program, clients spend an hour a day on business development. We call this “the EMyth Hour.” Whatever you choose to call it—Planning Hour, Solo Strategy Hour—this is time that you carve out specifically to work on your business during your workday. And it should be on your calendar.
Once you’ve named your hour, commit to being conscious during this time and to doing whatever it takes to prevent yourself from being pulled away. For many owners, this is the hard part. How do you secure that time? The best tool is a simple one: a sign on the door. Close your door. Put up a sticky note that says: “Working on the business. Available at noon.” Shut down your cell phone and email. And if it’s difficult to do this hour in the workplace, find a different, more creative space like a coffee shop, or take a run if that’s where you do your best thinking.
Once you’ve organized your physical work environment and set time to focus on the work of building your business, keep to it—this is the most important part of being an entrepreneur.
If you’d like more resources to track time, keep a daily schedule or manage distractions, check out our ebook: The Time Management Handbook.
In the next article in this series, I’ll discuss how to delegate to and communicate with your team to maximize both your time and employee engagement.