The most precious resource we have is time. It doesn’t matter who we are in the world – we all have a clock ticking. None of us know how much time we have left on the planet. I’m sorry if that sounds like a morbid message, but I really want to get your attention – the most precious resource we have is time. We can all make more money, but none of us, it doesn’t matter whether you’re Oprah or Richard Branson or the President of the United States, none of us can buy more time, none of us can manufacture more time. That’s why knowing how to manage your time better is really, really important.
Manage Your Time In a Way That Aligns Most With Who You Want To Be
We want to make sure that our time is going in the direction that most aligns with who we want to be. If you run a small business like I do, then the decisions that you make about how you spend your time, and also, if you have a team, how your team is spending their time, are crucial. You’re either putting your time into things that are moving you forward and enhancing the results you want and advancing you towards those results, or you’re putting your time into things that are not. It’s really important to learn to how to evaluate your time.
Evaluate How You Are Managing Your Time
There is a tool that I want to refer to you. It is called Lifecycle. I love Lifecycle because what Lifecycle enables me to do is track my time, and it does it automatically. Lifecycle is a free app that you can download to your phone, and it will basically track you by location. Lifecycle, for example, recognises when I’m at the gym and assumes quite rightly, that when I’m at the gym I am actually working out.
Lifecycle equally recognises when I’m taking my boys on the school run, it knows when I’m in the car. Using Lifecycle really opened my eyes to where time was leaking out in my life. For example, it has helped me realise that I was spending four or five hours in my car a week. Because I work from home, I have no commute. My children’s school is less than half a mile from our house, so it was quite an eye-opener for me to realise I was spending four or five hours in the car every week.
But recognising that helped me to make a new decision. Did I want to start walking my children to school? And use that time for exercise, so it made my school run longer, but I got more payoff for that time? Or did I want to start to use Audible in my car and use that time for listening to podcasts? So, using Lifecycle helped me to squeeze more juice, if you like, out of where my time was going. I highly, highly, recommend Lifecycle as a tool to help you manage your time and track your time.
Now, coming back to running a small business. The business that you currently have is a reflection of your past decisions. What it comes down to in business is you’re either investing your time and your money and energy, into things that are moving your business forward, or you’re not. And there’s no shame or blame here. This isn’t about getting all judgmental or gnashing your teeth or wringing your hands or anything like that. It’s about taking that feedback and making a better decision.
Six Questions to Discover How You Can Manage Your Time Better
I want to share some questions that you can ask yourself about where your time is going. Again, not to judge you or to shame you or to blame you or to make you feel bad about where your time is going, but really to support you in just making better decisions. This is about feedback. And then, asking yourself, “Okay. Is this getting me what I want? And if not, course correcting.”
So let’s talk about the six questions…
1. What are the things that you are doing that are currently contributing to your life and your business?
I invite you to make a list. One of the things that I love to do in my business is to look at my current results and, for example, what is currently producing results in terms of profit in the business, and then to track back. It was through doing this exercise, that I recognised that in my business, one thing that works really well is speaking at live events.
In asking myself this question, I was able to see the current income that’s coming in to my business and how much of that was dependent upon me speaking at live events. And so, recognising that, I understand that if I want more results, I need to find more opportunities to speak to live audiences, where people I want to work with are hanging out. Now, that is an example of looking at results and using it to track back to identify what was a great decision I made in the past, and discovering how I can use that information to make a better decision in the present to lead me to more of the future I want.
That’s on the business side, but equally, you want to look at your personal life as well. A mentor of mine gave me a fantastic piece of advice … when you are in downtime, you want that to be much about recovery and filling your cup. Are you spending time with people who are enhancing your life? Is your life-time, going on things that are improving your life overall? Are you spending enough time getting exercise? It doesn’t mean that you have to be out pumping iron, it could be as simple as a walk.
Are you spending your time in ways that are aligned with your highest values? Are you actually spending quality time with your loved ones and family? Or is that time with them something that you’re just getting through to cross off another day? Again, no judgement here. Just an opportunity to get very real and honest with yourself, about whether this is currently working for you.
2. What are the things that you’re currently doing that are making you money?
I’ve been coaching people in business for a long time, and it is amazing to me how much people can be in denial or how much people can have a made-up story, and the one thing I love about numbers is they do not lie.
You did something, it was profitable or it wasn’t. It made you money or it didn’t. Maybe it made you less money than you hoped for, but it still made money. And maybe that can be turned into something that will make you more money if you identify the one piece that is working and you leverage that, you scale that.
3. What are the things that bring you and your family joy?
My children and I love going to the swimming pool. We love water parks. There’s just something about it, and we just all love the element of water. And if I think back to the things that are the days out that we’ve enjoyed most, there’s been a pool or waterpark. Can you imagine where our next vacation is? We’re actually going to a hotel that has a water park, because that’s basically something that we’ve really enjoyed in the past, so why not 10 times it? Why not 14 times on our next two-week holiday?
4. What are the things that are wasting time?
This can really come up in business, especially in a small business, especially if you’re just getting started. It is amazing how you can have your time go into things that just don’t produce results. And again, I’m not saying that to shame or blame or anything like that, it’s just an opportunity to get honest with yourself. If you are doing something, you’re putting a lot of time or effort into something, and I would never say expect instant results; but if six months into this thing, and a year into this thing, isn’t producing enough for you to even earn an income, you need to get real. And you need to ask yourself, “Okay. What isn’t working here? What do I need to shift?” Make it’s time to put this to one side.
That’s very painful, if this is a passion project for you, and it’s something that you want to turn into something that can make a full time income for you. But maybe it’s just at this time, it’s not working. It might mean that you need to change it, you need to abandon it altogether.
5. What are the things that you can hand off?
Something that’s really helped me in my business is that at a very early stage, when my children were very young, I realised it really didn’t matter who washed the floors in my house. It really didn’t matter who did the laundry. It really didn’t matter who made the beds. But it did matter who read my children a story at night, who tucked them in and kissed them goodnight. That was down to me. I wanted to do that. That was not something I wanted to delegate, but there was so much else in my life that I could delegate so I was able to focus on that thing.
Now, this could be a very long article if I start talking to the moms, because there’s so much, as moms, that we want to take on that we end up doing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the best person to do it. And I actually think for moms, investing, and I do call it investing – I looked at the domestic help that I paid for to help with my children and to help with the running in my house – I saw that as a business investment years ago. I actually saw this as the cost of me being in business. If I pay for this help over here, to keep my house clean and tidy and running smoothly and a well-ordered machine, the payoff is that I could fully focus in my business and show up to serve my clients in the highest way and be more creative, that’s going to pay dividends. And I’m so glad that I made that investment years ago.
Again, there’s also things inside of my business that I’m not the best person to do. I did not upload this article. My team have learned not to let me do stuff like that, because I’m dangerous. I find it very hard to follow a system. I’m great at creating systems, I don’t like following them. There are certain things in my business that I don’t do, that we all know that I’m not the best person to do. And I wouldn’t say I’ve handed off everything that I could, I’m still a work in progress, but you’ve got to start somewhere. So, identify what things can absolutely be handed off immediately.
6. What are the things you need to stop doing?
Okay, probably not going to feel proud about sharing this, but yes, I did use to play Candy Crush. And then I just realised, “Okay. This is just taking up my time. I could use the time, even if I’m playing Candy Crush when I’m on a bus or waiting for something. I could be using that time better. Even if I’m just sitting quietly and reflecting on my thoughts.” There are things that you might need to stop doing altogether.
Those are the six questions to ask yourself in order to manage your time better. I hope these have helped you to make better decisions about how you’re using your very precious resource of time. Thank you for the time you invested reading this article, and I hope with what I shared with you, I’ve multiplied your return on your investment of time. I would love to see your comments about how this article has helped you or how you’ll be using the questions to manage your time better.