You hear it all the time; your most precious asset is your time. Many people don't value their time appropriately and end up wasting a lot of their time on unproductive tasks. Small business owners struggle to find time to work on their business and instead get tangled up in unimportant day to day tasks. It's not that the day to day tasks are not important. It's just that if all you do is work on day to day tasks you never work on big picture tasks, which are incredibly important. If you find yourself constantly running out of time maybe the below advice will help you.
Busy Being Busy
I was at an F3T fly fishing film tour event and was listening to one of the fishermen speak. The guy was living in some remote area doing a lot of fishing and he said: "It seems to me that everyone in the world is busy being busy. Nobody seems to slow down enough to pay attention to the things that matter." When he finished his sentence I immediately went to my phone and added his thoughts to my blog ideas folder in Evernote.
Think about it; as a small business owner you never finish your to do list do you? Most days you are just soooo busy. Are you busy working on things that matter or just busy being busy?
Non-billable Time = Growth
In our business we are meticulous about tracking our time, even our non-billable time. I just ran my time card for last year on myself to prove a point and I hadn't looked at this before now, but I had an idea of what the results would be. I spent 75% of my time last year on non-billable tasks. Many people are probably shaking their heads saying to themselves that I wasted my time. I look at that and I'm happy, that is roughly my goal. Our VP of sales spent roughly 50% of his time on non-billable tasks. The company as a whole roughly 30% of our time spent on non-billable tasks. Non-billable tasks are what fuel the growth of your business.
Somebody needs to work on growing the business all the time.
Focus on Important Tasks
So how do you make sure you are not busy being busy? You need to focus on what is important in your business, not just what happens to be in front of you. The only way to get big picture tasks is to schedule them. We are about 2 weeks out right now for taking on new clients. However, I am shutting the business down on Monday afternoon for four hours for all employees to meet. Every month we have a half day meeting to go over big picture thoughts and ideas with everyone in the business, otherwise it never gets done.
Charles Garfield, author of Peak Performers, offers up a great quote regarding staying focused on things that actually matter: "Purposefully active people - the peak performers - separate action that produces useful results in real time from mere activity or busy work. Their less purposeful colleagues put in time and wait for the day, the week, the work, to be over. People are not born to inaction. They learn it."
How do you keep yourself from running out of time in your small business?