The Line Between Personal And Business Time Has Been OBLITERATED
The line between personal and business isn’t just going away – it’s been obliterated. How many of us are guilty of holding our children in one arm and checking our email on our phones in the other hand? There is really almost no distinction between personal and business anymore.
When we talk to our clients, irrespective of age, location, whatever, and we ask them “what do you have too little of in your life,” the number one answer is – “I have too little time.” But if you analyze that answer, you know it’s wrong, because we all have the exact same amount of time, and some people get an amazing amount of productivity out of their 24 hour days, and some people seem to struggle getting anything done.
Six quick tips for managing your time
Look, all you have in life, really, is your time, and how you elect to invest your time dictates the quality of your family and your business lives. So, six quick tips to help you get a handle on your time.
Number one, what’s the biggest time waster right now among the typical business leaders? It used to be the telephone. Now its email. People spend an enormous amount of time looking at their computer screen trying to get to the next email and the next email and the next email, and it’s almost an obsession. So one of the great time management tips that I have heard lately is schedule your email time. In fact, you can put up an automated message that says – “I check email twice a day – in the morning and in the afternoon, and that’s when I respond. Please be patient.”
The second tip is schedule your telephone time the same way. Return calls at 11:30 am and 4:30 pm, or whatever that happens to be. You could even put that in your voice mail on your phone. People understand that you are busy and they respect that you are busy. And probably, most of the calls that you get are not things that require you to respond right away. You don’t have to take every call as if it’s the most important call in the history of mankind.
Third thing, also telephone. Schedule telephone appointments. How much time do we waste calling people back, leaving voicemails, and playing phone tag? Schedule your telephone appointments. In fact, schedule appointments for everything. You schedule appointments to go to the doctor and take your annual physical, so why not schedule your appointments to go to the gym because you keep pushing it off? Schedule it. Get it done.
For the important things in your life, schedule them and stick to that. Honor your commitments. Schedule everything, including scheduling some empty space. Schedule some white space in your calendar, say right after lunch from 1-2, where you can be in the office and be available to be a resource for your people. You can even schedule office time. Remember, in college all the professors had office days and times. That’s not such a bad idea.
Most of you as small business leaders are a vital cog for knowledge and expertise in your companies. You’ve got to schedule time to be a resource for your people so you can help them grow and learn and prosper in their jobs. And if you are not scheduling that empty space to be a resource for people, then they have to come interrupt you from all the other busy stuff that you are doing, and they don’t like that. They know they are not getting you at your best. So schedule office space, schedule telephone calls, schedule free time, schedule everything in your life, and then stick to the schedule.
The fifth thing, say no. Learn to say no. As a small business owner, most of you are so over-committed. You are on the hospital board, the bank board. You are working 80 hours a week in the business. You want to be involved in your church. You need to spend family time. How do you get it all done? You have to learn to say no. If you are going to allocate time, allocate time to the two things that mean the most – your business and your family. And as the kids grow up and move on, then charities and such can come back in again.
And finally the sixth thing – establish boundaries. No cell phones in meetings, for example. That’s a big time waster. Unplug during your family time. At family dinners, put your phone away. Leave it in a different room. Turn it all the way off, or at least silence the ringer. On family vacations, leave your laptop at work. Leave your cell phone somewhere where it’s not easily visible.
Establish some boundaries between you and these electronic tethers – your phone and your laptop, etc, so that you can break way, give your best to your family, and enjoy some decompression time away from the pressures of work. Your time is your life. And how you elect to allocate your time is a direct contributor to the quality of your life. So be judicious and disciplined about how you allocate your time.