I've been pondering the age old issue for SME owners of Time Management. It always seems that Time is against us. There is a horrible Time monster, not unlike the sock monster in the washing machine(where DO those socks go?!) that eats our Time and stops us getting important stuff done.
You may have read my blog some months back "Yes You Do Have Time." When it comes to social media marketing, I have long been of the opinion that there is absolutely enough time to deliver great communications for our audience should we all choose to do so. I timed myself popping a post onto Facebook and it took me 2.5 minutes so the application of using social media marketing does not take a long time.
But yet, time and again, we as small business owners lament the lack of time, not just for social media marketing but for all business processes.
Consider this; when you were 2 or 3 or 4 years old you entered the education system. Every single second of your time was managed for you until you left education some 15 or more years later. And then when you got your first job, your working time was dictated to you by your employers. Your free time is probably spent trying to catch up on things that are expected of you. And you may just get a little bit left over to do some things that you want to do.
In the main, we are very used and conditioned to someone else (or insitution) telling us how to spend our time.
Given that we have all, always been reliant on others' to help us fill and manage ourselves in the time we have, it is no wonder that when we come to managing our own time running our businesses, many of it are fairly poor. Suddenly, we are all accountable to ourselves for the way in which we spend our time.
We have to prioritise our activies from URGENT to not quite so urgent, to delivering for our clients (doing the job), to bringing in new business (sales job), to raising profile of our business (marketing job), to cleaning the office and remembering to eat! And we have to do it well enough to get paid. The pressure is like no other and the worry can be all consuming. But then, the reward when we get it right is like no other either.
After years of wondering why I was working 14 and 15 hour days and trying to fit it all in, 2017 has seen me totally change and streamline my processes because for the first time in 8 years I've been on my own running a business.
There was literally no one else to do this for me.
Here are the changes I have made in 2017 that have literally saved my sanity.
1. Turned off the notifications on my phone. No more singing along with the tune they belted out at 6.30am each morning. My mornings have improved no end. And the messages are still there patiently waiting. There are no distractions throughout the day which eat up time and stop my focus. Oh and I don't turn on my phone now until 7am.
2. Always check all social media channels between 7.30 and 8am. This time is for 'chitter chatter', engagement, comments and reading the lovely stuff. I always want to get back to people and never want them to feel ignored.
3. Time blocking. I time block each day one month in advance (at a minimum), sometimes three months. Every single day is accounted for. I use bonny colours for each client and actually write it out 'old fashioned' style.
I always time block for Sparkle too. At least one day a week.
4. Auto responder on my emails. My 'reply to emails time' is now 4.30 - 6pm each day. This has been a really hard one for me. But by time blocking, I am more focussed on the replies and I take more care over them. And nothing is so urgent (Jen you taught me well) that it can't wait another couple of hours to give it my full attention. If it is, they will get to me.
5. #dodigital and other scheduling is done on a Sunday evening. I have always worked on a Sunday. Sunday's where planning days when I was teaching in the classroom and it's great for getting focussed for the week.
6. I pay for my Canva account so I can have all the brand colours, fonts, templates and team members in there. It saves so much time faffing about that it takes literally seconds to prepare the daily images.
7. I now outsource jobs that I either can't or don't want to do. And honestly, I wish I had done this from the start. Even with little or no budget, this has been an important lesson for me. I am basically rubbish or uninterested in some things that need to be done, so I pay better people than I to help.
I am better prepared, more alert, better focussed and my producitivty (and revenue income) has sky-rocketed in the last few months I have been working on my own. This is because I had absolutely no choice but to get on and manage myself better.
What time management tips have you got to share?