As a business owner, you often feel that you are being pulled in a million different directions, and in the end, you never have enough time to get real work done.
In fact, time management is one of the key reasons business owners fail to achieve their goals.
Time is the one resource we can't get more of, so we should all be trying to understand how to manage our most valuable resource properly.
The cost of ineffective time management
Your job as a leader is not to be stuck in the weeds. Instead, you should only be doing the high-value tasks that move the business forward.
Whenever you have to shift to do tasks of lower value compared to what you do best, you are doing an injustice to your business. In fact, you are reducing the amount of potential value you can deliver to your business.
This does not just apply to you as the business owner. The applies to every single member of your team.
It doesn’t mean that the things you are doing have no value. Everything has a place. However, when you look at what you are capable of and what you are focusing most of your time on - there is often a cost.
You might look at it as an opportunity cost.
The Four D’s of time management
I'm going to share with you the Four D’s that will literally help you claim back more time.
The first step is to do an audit of how you spend your time. Keep a journal for a day or a week, or alternatively review your to-do list or calendar. Track where your hours are going and what you're doing. Then you’ll be ready to run them through the Four D lens.
The Four D Lens - Delete, Delegate, Defer, Design
The first of those Four Ds is to simply delete.
You really have to be cut and dry here. There are some things that simply should not get done.
There are many emails that should just be deleted. There are meetings that you don’t need to be in. There are tasks that you just don’t need to do. Delete them.
You need to get these things off your desk.
The second D is to delegate. What things are you spending time on that really could be serviced by somebody else?
Some things need to be done - but do they have to be done by you? Is there an opportunity to hand this to an assistant (or virtual assistant), what about operations staff or someone on the sales team? Can it be outsourced to an outside contractor?
Delegate when you know it has to be done, but it can be done by somebody else.
The third D is defer.
We all have a to-do list, but to be honest, every business owner should have a “stop doing” list. In other words, these are all the ideas and things that you know have some merit, you’ve got a good feeling about them, but they're a distraction from the core things you're meant to be doing right now. You don’t have to let them go never to be seen again, just put them on your “stop doing” list, and then set a task to have a look at them next quarter to see if anything should move on the actual to-do list.
Now, the fourth D and the final one is design.
And by design, we mean design it out.
This is perfect for those repetitive issues or tasks that come up again and again.
You may have to spend a little bit of time ‘designing things out’ but it will be worth it.
For example, perhaps you are on a mailing list and you receive a regular emails that you don’t always have time to read. They eventually start clogging up your inbox (along with various other emails). You don’t want to unsubscribe from the mailing list because sometimes you do want to read the emails. You can set up an inbox rule so that these emails automatically go to another folder and skip your inbox. When you are ready to read these emails you can just open the folder and start reading.
If an automated workflow can save you time - it’s worth setting it up.
One of the greatest things that Amazon ever did was introduce package tracking links into emails when people made purchases. All of a sudden, a whole pile of their customer service calls went away. Customers could answer the most fundamental question of “Where is my parcel?” by clicking the tracking link. This is a great example of how to design out a problem out of your process and free up more time for you.
As a business owner, your role is to be working on the highest value areas in your business. Start transforming your life and your business by focusing on these time management techniques. Create a business that gives you freedom, delivers what you want in life, and is worth more - all because it’s less dependent on you.
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