It’s leap year! In 2016, there are 366 days instead of the usual 365. An extra 24 hours. A gift of time? For the small business owner, always feeling squeezed, will an extra day make a difference? Many business owners wish for more hours in the day, and at the same time, wish the day would end. With a change in perspective, and a lot of practice, it is possible to gain control over your calendar.
Forget the list of commandments to wake earlier, get to the gym by 5 AM, and improve your on-time performance. We suggest an approach that puts you in step with yourself, and your reason for starting a business.
Customize these seven time management tips, and you may even produce a more enjoyable, satisfying work day:
- Develop an internal guidance system. Create your own guidance system that takes into account your business goals; the specific strategies and key people necessary to achieve them; and the values and principles you hold dear. As you schedule work, and plan projects, align your activities with your guidance system. Notice when you’re off course; get back on.
- Time with purpose. Look at the work day as a resource. Use it to guide strategies, maintain focus on the big picture, and rein-in distractions. The day is yours to nurture a lead, coach a newcomer, or brainstorm a creative idea. Practice your purpose. Every day, learn what works, and feels, best to you.
- Make thoughtfulness a core habit: Strong relationships provide the foundation for a satisfying journey. If the individuals around you are just the blurry backdrop of your life, bring them into focus. Transform your perspective on the people part of your work, and you may find your goals become easier to reach, and there is more pleasure in the day.
- Schedule for strengths: As the business owner, you may have many roles, but schedule time to do what you set out to do – as often as possible. Are you the product innovator? Better schedule time for product design, or you will find yourself doing everything but.
- Support limitations: If your brain wakes up at 10:00 a.m., shape your schedule to support you. Tackle routine tasks in the morning; be a winning CEO with a new client in the afternoon. Early risers who start strong may like to set aside chunks of time every morning for their challenging work, and use the afternoon for status meetings, routine calls, and report reviews.
- Prevent time-stealing breakdowns: Anticipate and prevent common mini-crises by ensuring your business follows routine maintenance schedules for essential equipment, the office environment, vehicles, operating systems, software, and business relationships. A slow operating system may derail your production schedule. An unreliable truck may be a deal breaker if the engine fails while making a time-sensitive delivery. The ignored requests from a business associate, friend, or employee, may cause unfavorable ripples into the future. Attend, maintain, and deliver.
- Check out time: At the end of the day, how do you feel? Take a moment to enjoy all of your successes, and assess the amount of time dedicated to big goals. What can you learn from the things that didn’t go as well? Don’t dwell. Check out for today.
At the end of the day, consider: was your time well spent? This is not about the stuff you did or didn’t get done on time. This is about how you moved through it. Did you do right by the day, and did it do right by you?