A new year is here, and if you’re like me, you’re already thinking about how much you want to accomplish in 2020 – and the limited time you have to do it. If you find yourself whining that “there aren’t enough hours in the day,” know you’re not alone. But you should also know that the biggest challenge isn’t needing more hours, it’s having the skills required to utilize those hours effectively. Whoever first said, “time is on my side” (it wasn’t The Stones, btw), probably never owned or managed a business.
If you ARE an owner or manager of a business, you wear an important title; you’re the boss. But for many business owners, that title doesn’t mean much because they’re constantly working below their paygrade – meaning they’re doing the tasks that could easily be completed by someone whose time is, frankly (and respectfully), worth much less. This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to any one industry. It’s a universal problem faced by organizations of all kinds.
Time, money and people
These are the main resources in your business, right? So, which of the three is most in your control? If you answered, “your time,” then you are correct. Even though you can’t change or stop time (how you wish), you have 100-percent control of how you spend it. Here’s how I’ve learned to make your time work for you – not against you.
Know your worth
How much would you say an hour of your time is worth? $200, $300, $400? A business owner’s time is highly valuable – I’d say closer to $400 than $200. But business owners also tend to be control freaks (in the best sense), so it’s natural for them to take hold of a problem and convince themselves no one else is capable of solving it. If you find yourself frequently muttering the words, “if you want something done right, you’re better off doing it yourself,” you are headed in the wrong direction.
The thing is, most of the time, someone else really can do it – and for much less than what your time is worth.
One of my Board Members at TAB told me this story after we had discussed this topic a couple meetings ago:
He and his business partner agreed to assign a value – $400 an hour in this case – to their time, then work to ensure they spent their time on the right activities. So a few weeks ago he noticed she was leaving the office with keys in her hand, and asked her where she was going. She said she was going to pick up their important client at the airport. Our TAB member replied, “how long will you be?” She said it would take about three hours to get to LAX and back. He mentioned that would cost the company $1200. He suggested they arrange for a car to pick up their client at a cost of $150. She did, and folklore has it that she landed a large contract while they were waiting for the client to arrive. Not sure that’s true, but it sounds great for this story, right?
So where do you start?
If you’re ready to start working at – not below – your paygrade, I recommend three steps that will help you effectively manage your time.
Step 1: Build a list of (what I call) “platinum activities.”
“Platinum activities” are the tasks that bring the greatest value to your business, i.e. creating a Strategic Plan, establishing culture, building strategic partnerships, communicating effectively with your employees and speaking with your customers.
I’ve created a simple formula to help you spend more time on your platinum activities each week, thereby potentially having a much greater impact on your business.
Think about your day. What are YOUR platinum activities?
Step 2: Designate a time of day as your PRIME TIME.
How many of you are morning people? If you’re currently nodding your head, your prime time should be first thing in the morning. During your prime time, don’t read emails, take calls, schedule meetings or any other “clerical” duties. Instead, commit to only working on platinum activities during your prime time. Even if you can only manage prime time one day a week, it’s important to designate some good quality hours to the activities most important to your business.
I get it. You’re a business owner, and sometimes you have to go in and get something done just to train an employee or because you’re in a pinch. But making a habit of that is a waste of your time – and your strategically invested money. And this isn’t just about you; as you delegate tasks, you build a staff that is able to handle every situation and make important decisions without your handholding. Everyone wins.
Step 3: Create your TO DON’T LIST.
If you do one thing after reading this article, pull out a sheet of paper and label it “TO DON’T LIST.” Keep it in your top drawer and every time you find yourself doing something that could be done by someone else, write it down. We do this in our Board meetings all the time and our members are shocked at how many tasks they’ve been able to delegate to others.
With a new year here, every hour brings new opportunities. Make sure you’re making the most of 2020 – for yourself and your business – by staying above your paygrade.
If you want to learn more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.