Protect Your Time
One of the most valuable resources we have is our time. However, we can often give it away easily to others, rather than using it effectively for ourselves. Here are some ways to protect your time and use it effectively:
Allow yourself down time – sometimes as business owners we can feel that we need to be available 24/7 to be successful (especially when it’s a new business) however, remember that success comes from the strategies you employ, rather than the hours you are available. Allowing yourself time to look after your own wellbeing is important, as it will help ensure that you have the energy and focus to build your business.
Allow yourself time for your important tasks – there are times when you need to concentrate on a task and this can be difficult with the phone ringing or emails coming in. Approach your important tasks in the same way you would treat a meeting or an appointment with a client – switch everything off and concentrate on it. This will help you complete it quicker (because you are no longer being interrupted) and given it’s an important task in your business, it will be time well spent. If it isn’t possible to do this (due to the nature of your business) then use early morning or evening (when you are less likely to be interrupted) to do these tasks instead.
Don’t waste time in front of your computer – it can be the easiest thing in the world to sit in front of the computer when work is quiet or you’re getting stuck mentally with a project. Staring at the computer isn’t going to change the situation but a fresh perspective will, so catch up with some clients or business contacts or simply go for a walk and freshen your brain.
Set expectations – if you position your availability with clients and business contacts you will be able to manage your time proactively instead of simply reacting to contact from others. Letting them know which are the best times to contact you (e.g: “I’m normally in meetings in the morning but you will be able to reach me anytime in the afternoon”) allows you to manage your time and saves clients having to leave messages and wait on your response. Another strategy is to have a message on your phone that alerts people to the fact that you may be in a meeting and will get back to them as soon as you can (which you can also do with an auto responder on your emails if you will be unavailable for a set period of time). This helps position the fact that there may be a delay in getting back to them (which they will understand if you highlight this to them) and it takes the pressure off you to respond immediately (especially when you are busy or taking a much needed break).
Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself – whether you need time to work uninterrupted or simply want to take a break to do something you enjoy, then it’s your right to do this. As a business owner you work hard and your hours are often all over the place, so you need to take time for yourself whenever you can and sometimes that’s in the middle of the day.
Be a positive example to others – in today’s world there isn’t really a downtime, the internet is always accessible, businesses often work round the clock and with more focus on international trade and business there is always someone working somewhere. However, just because we do have access to lots of things 24/7, it doesn’t mean we need to operate in this way. In fact taking control of your time creates a positive example for others to follow, by making them feel that this is something they can do too.
Being available for clients is an important feature of a successful business but we also need to have time for ourselves so that we can complete important tasks and recharge our batteries. Take control of how you use your time and you will not only feel more relaxed, you will also be more effective in your business.