Time Challenges Are Constant In Business
When you are self-employed time is always a challenge. Even when you plan your day and have everything worked out, life will throw more challenges at you.
Most of the time management gurus will advise you to make a plan for the following day the night before. Make a list of the things you’re going to do and work through it until you’ve finished. Never stop educating yourself. Write copy to email your list (you have to get one first).
All this is great advice, really it is, but a plan is just that. A plan. If you stick too rigidly to a plan, the plan will fail if you are self-employed. Much of the advice you will be given will come from people who are self-made millionaires and they will have worked very hard to reach that. I have nothing but the greatest respect for people like Dean Holland, Louis Doughty and many others who have turned their lives around and are great role models. Dean and Louis are great guys who I look upon as mentors and who genuinely want to help people but they are not self-employed anymore.
Don’t misunderstand my message here. The advice you get from people is often very good but it is coming from people who have made it. They are not working alone anymore, they have a team of people working with them to do all the things that need to be done. The time challenges faced by our mentors are very different to those faced by someone working on their own. They have teams to work for them even if they have other commitments.
If you try to do all the things you are advised to do straight out of the gate, most of you will fail. Not because you are not prepared to work hard but because there are not enough hours in the day for you to do it. Nor do you have the knowledge required.
An example of how time can be stolen from you !
An example from my own life. I was the best man at my brother’s wedding last week and with the greatest will in the world I wasn’t able to concentrate on my business as much as I would have liked. Yes I could have said I wouldn’t be the best man but would you do that to your brother ? That stopped me concentrating on my business for 3 days but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Considerable time challenges !
On Sunday I made a plan for this week and for Monday. I was really pumped up to follow that plan but, as life does, it threw me a curved ball on Monday afternoon. I had a traffic accident and have spent most of Tuesday dealing with that. Insurance companies, assessment of vehicle damage, statement to the police. Time gone. In addition, on the Tuesday morning I had an accident and smashed the screen on my iPad. Another 3 hours sorting that out. More time gone. So basically I lost a whole day dealing with things I hadn’t planned for and hadn’t anticipated. Obviously this prevented me from doing the things I’d planned to do.
So what do we do about our time challenges?
Up to now you might think that this is a very negative blog but I don’t do negative. I do tell it as it is and this is the life of the self-employed.
So how do we turn all this into positive time-management and meaningful action? Here are 3 suggestions for improving your time management which I have learned and developed over the 20 years that I have been self-employed.
Be realistic !
Look carefully at your life and understand what you can fit into it and what you can’t. Self-employed people always underestimate the time it takes to do a task. When you’ve been doing something for years the job takes 5 minutes. When you’re starting out it takes an hour. Underestimating time will totally destroy your plans and leave you feeling deflated and possibly inadequate.
Only plan out two thirds of your available time !
Probably the most important thing I have learned over the years is never to plan to fill my time with tasks. Things happen that have to be dealt with and will break up your careful planning. When they do your focus is interrupted and it then takes time to re-focus. If you plan to fill just 2/3 of your available time, that will give you time to deal with the extra things life throws at you. If there are days when you find you have extra time, do some more work on your business. Don’t waste the extra time you have been given. Planning to fill 2/3 of your time doesn’t mean you have licence to be lazy.
Know your limitations !
What might your limitations be ? Well, you might not enjoy writing so you need to learn it. You might not understand copy writing so you need to learn it. You might not have a clue how to build an email subscriber list so you have to learn it. You might find communicating with strangers difficult but you have to be able to do it. Many ‘newbies’ find it very difficult to sell to other people but unless you master it you won’t have much income.
You will know that when you are starting out in business you have a great deal to learn in a short period of time. You’re going to know very little starting out and so your time is going to be divided between learning and taking action. Many people try to take action before they’re ready, fail, get disillusioned and give up. As one of my mentors is fond of saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. Take time to learn the basics before taking action. When you do take action your efforts will be far more effective and your time will have been used more efficiently.
If you follow these three suggestions you will find that your time will be utilised more profitably in terms of what you can achieve and your time challenges will be reduced. You will not suffer as much stress as you might if you try to do things without getting the knowledge first. You will remain positive (essential if you’re going to be successful in any business). When you interact with your email list you’ll communicate with your subscribers with more confidence.
I hope you found this blog post useful. If you did please comment below and share the post on your social media sites.