Time. It’s precious, because it’s limited. We all have the same 24 hours a day — but only 24 hours a day — to do everything we want to do. Due to time’s finite nature, its management is critical.
Recently, I found myself revisiting my own time management, to help combat overwhelm with all the new business that has been coming the LaCroix Creative way. And in doing so, I thought I’d pick out some of the techniques that have work well for me lately and share them with you.
Technique #1: Prioritize
When you have a to-do list as long as your arm, you have to decide which tasks come first. You must prioritize.
Many, many years ago, I learned a technique in prioritizing that I still use today. It’s quick and insanely easy, and it serves me well.
After making out my to-do list, I review the tasks, and for each one, I ask this question: How important is this task?
Of course, “important” and “urgent” are two different things. But I consider both components when deciding on a task’s priority level, because if something is both urgent and important, that’s without a doubt a higher priority than something that’s just one or the other.
Then I assign a letter grade to each task:
A = extremely important and needs to be done soon
B = important, but not quite as important, and not so urgent
C = it would be nice to get it done, but it’s not any where as near as important or urgent as the B tasks
Over time, some “B”s might become “A”s, and some “C”s might become “B”s — but you’d be surprised by how many “C” tasks eventually fall off the list completely. On the other hand, “A” tasks almost never do.
Once you have designated your “A” tasks, you can prioritize them further into a technique you might already know: the three top tasks/goals you plan to complete for that day.
Another lesson I learned many years ago in regards to prioritizing tasks: Don’t freak out if the day goes by, and you still have items to complete on your to-do list. Trying to do it all will drive you insane, and its attempt really has nothing to do with good time management. Remember: God-willing, there’s always tomorrow.
Technique #2: Delegate
What I’ve found with delegation is that it’s enormously freeing. If you need to “make time,” delegation does it instantly. That time is immediately freed up for your use.
I’ve found that the trick with delegation is affordability, and as such, it’s important to know two things: when you are being thrifty with your business versus when you are being greedy. It’s a thin line, but knowing and, more importantly, recognizing the difference between the two will help you better discern when you should delegate and when you should not.
For myself, I’ve found great freedom and downright relief from delegation. When you’ve delegated a task — in particular to skilled, independent worker — it’s a stress-buster to be sure. But I’ve also learned that I can’t delegate everything, or else I risk not making enough income necessary for myself and my family to survive, not to mention my own personal mark on the business. That said, being too greedy and not delegating tasks to others stunts the growth of my business and its potential, in the end, to make even more money.
So how do I decide when to delegate? I ask myself, what do I have more of right now? Do I have more time? Or do I have more money? And I’ve found that it’s like two arms of a balance scale: the more time I have, typically, the less money I’m making. And vice versa: the more money is coming in, the less time I have.
When the latter happens, I don’t get tight-fist and stingy — instead, I spread “the love” (aka the profits) by delegating responsibilities to others.
I’ll admit that I’ve found that easier to do with tasks I charge at an hourly rate than I can with flat-rate projects. I’ve also found it more difficult to do with help that’s connected to non-billable hours, such as answering phones and record keeping. But that’s my current situation for now. I can imagine with a greater flow of income, affording non-billable assistance will become more and more my business’ reality — and that is indeed my goal.
If delegating some of your work makes sense to you, you might want to visit the LaCroix Creative services page. We handle a number of tasks that you might be struggling to do on your own — such as writing content, updating websites, or designing print materials. Your precious time is much better spent on doing things at which you excel and that you enjoy. Click HERE to view our services, and if you’d like to contact us to learn more and start implementing delegation, click HERE.
Technique #3: Procrastinate
This technique might come as a surprise. Who procrastinates as a way to manage time well? Isn’t procrastination something we should be avoiding? Isn’t that… bad?
I always thought so. But last year, during my many travels on YouTube, I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by Rory Vader that had me looking at procrastination in a different way. I’ll some it up quickly here, but I invite you to listen to see full talk by clicking HERE. (You will not regret it!)
In his talk, Vader explains that mindful, deliberate procrastination can actually help you focus your efforts on the things that really matter. If getting the really important things done means putting off other things, so be it. It’s OK to put some things, even important things, on the back burner, for the sake of making real, meaningful process overall.
What are you going to do with all your “new” time?
Many of us entrepreneurs complain that we don’t have enough balance in our lives. In acknowledging that, we also know that we can’t rest on our laurels for long when business is good: We must hustle and continue to develop new business, always. So yet again, we have a situation of “push and pull” — in this case, deciding what to do with our newly found time.
I tend to assess my overall life situation to decide how I’m going to spend any newly developed free time. I’ll ask: Am I spending enough time caring for myself? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I exercising enough? If any answer is no, I turn my attention, at least for a while, on some much needed self-care. The truth is, if I get sick, my business will get sick with me. Self-care is important to both my own health and the well-being of my business, and as such, time needs to be devoted to it.
I also ask: Have I been ignoring my family? If you’ve been telling Bobby that you can’t attend his soccer games or Ashley that you can’t go to her piano recital, maybe now is the opportunity to devote more time to your spouse or children, and attend some special events and joyous moments.
If, however, I’ve been doing a good job giving myself and my family the time we all deserve, I turn my vision back to my business, and use the extra time to market for new clients and new opportunities for continued success.
You could also divide the newly gained time into percentages — much in the same way that you divide up your company’s income into take-home pay and reserves for expenses. If you gain an extra 10 hours in a week by delegating a task, perhaps 60 percent (or six hours) can be devoted back into the business, while the remaining four hours become much-deserved personal time.
Either way, be sure to thoughtfully consider your situation and choose your time allocation as wisely as possible.
A resource you can’t afford to ignore
When you think about it, time truly is money. It’s a resource, just as money is, and it’s often an important tool. If you ignore it and its management for too long, the consequences will catch up to you in your business. It’s time to make time to manage your time — before it mismanages your business.