How many times have you said to yourself that you haven't got the time? "I haven't even had two minutes to get that done." Have you been trying to arrange that meeting for weeks, but keep having to cancel because something has come up?
Time management is the discipline of getting tasks done, but it has one fatal flaw. There will always be more calls on your time to add to the pile. Anything that you decide to do is still a trade-off with not doing everything else that you could do at the same time. Working late is always a trade-off with spending time with your family, going to your child's school play, spending time working out, or playing sport, and so on forever more. Time management was meant to solve all of this pain, but shuffling around tasks still leaves you with the same amount of work to be done. It is only the priority order that changes.
If you are already working as hard and as fast as you can, then you cannot fit any more tasks into your day. The only way to do something 'extra' is to cut something else from your to-do list. You can cut, delegate or automate your tasks to enable you to do more, as we have discussed in other articles. However, delegation and automation are not always easy options. Delegation requires that you have either both hired and trained someone to do the task, or that you have researched and done a deal with an outsource partner. Automation needs you to have implemented a consistent process, then to invest time to automate that system, or, again, delegate this to an automation partner. So, both delegation and automation take time out of your day, and you are too busy to do these things. You will get around to these some day, but right now you don't have two minutes to even look at them. Your problem is that you are too busy to stop being busy. You may be superficially productive. You are meeting your deadlines, and your customers are happy.
Do you spend all the time that you want to with your family? I am sure many entrepreneurs with children know the guilt and the pain of leaving the house to go to that extra late meeting, and your child is clinging to your leg, sobbing, "Please. Don't go to your meeting, Daddy/Mummy".
Can you get to the gym, out on your bike, or up into the mountains? Even just some retail therapy, to get that watch you have been after, or a test drive in that car you have meant to get around to?
Well, the good news is yes, but you need to think differently about your to-do list. The traditional wisdom is to do the most urgent task first and move through your list in order of urgency and importance. However, work that doesn't pay-off today will often be put off as a nice to have or a desirable. You will continue to kick the can until that mythical day comes when you have nothing else to do. In other words, it won't happen.
You need to invest your time today for productivity gain in the future. If you have a takes that take you fifteen minutes a day, every day, then it may not seem worth the whole day to train a member of your team to do it instead. Why waste a day, it only takes fifteen minutes, right? However, you do it every day, twenty work days a month. Fifteen minutes multiplied by twenty days is a massive five hours a month. You will be fours hours up in the first month, and five hours every month after that, if you spend that day training somebody else to do it.
You must consider the long-term return on the investment of your time. If it takes, you a couple of weeks, to document your processes and implement automation across your business, but you gain fifty per cent of time back, it continues to pay you back over and over. So, don't just think about what is urgent or what is essential, but also, what has a long-term benefit. Make time for activities that will not only make you more productive today, but that will compound your productivity boost well into the future. SwiftCase helps thriving businesses, swamped by growing demand, automate and organise, to focus on what matters — loved by 100,000s of users across Insurance, Finance, Legal, Service & Contractor sectors.