Written by time management specialist, Kate Christie.
Right about now you may have more time on your hands than you would like. But happily, we are emerging from isolation and you want to make sure that your post-COVID-19 business is absolutely bulletproof.
One way to help ensure you sustain your business success and have the capacity to ramp up ready for a wedding boom (just think of all of the brides and grooms who postponed their weddings), is to create the right time habits now so you are ready to hit go when the phones start ringing again.
There are 5 simple steps you can take to track, rate and cost your time and set up sustainable business habits to ensure you find and then invest 30 plus hours of lost time a month.
1: Self Aware
Having absolute clarity over what drives you, and what gets in your way, is central to deciding where you should and shouldn’t invest your time. Ironically, the reason we rarely take time to reflect on things like: how do I feel about this life I lead; the time I devote to my work, family, friends, community, spiritual and volunteering commitments; and so on – is because we simply don’t have the time. But the thing is – right now you do have the time – so use it!
Reflect on your pre-pandemic business day and consider your:
- key time challenges: what used to trip you up and rob you of time?
- values: what is most important to you; where do you actually want to spend your time?
Identifying your challenges and values provides a baseline against which to reflect on your current or old-time habits and against which to measure the improved behaviours you are about to implement post-pandemic. You also want a very clear understanding of what you are, and are not, prepared to sacrifice your time for.
Your typical workday is made up of a multitude of competing demands on your time. So, how do you know which time investment is best?
To make the right decisions, you need the data: How often are you interrupted? Do you procrastinate? How often are you on your device? How often are you off your device? You cannot accurately respond to these types of questions without a full set of real-time data.
Map 2-3 days of your time to identify exactly where you invest your time from the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed: everything you do for yourself; your kids; your partner; your staff; every call; every email; every interruption; and everything else that makes up your day.
You absolutely need this data because you can’t know what changes you can make to your time habits until you know exactly where you spend your time.
Take your time maps and allocate each activity you undertake to one of the following categories:
- Musts: The activities that you, and only you, can perform.
- Wants: The activities that you do just for you – the fun stuff.
- Delegate: The activities someone else can perform for you in return for payment (or free).
- Reject: The activities you don’t need to do, or that you do need to do but which can be done smarter, faster, or differently.
You will also cost out exactly what your habits are costing you (for example, if your time is worth $50 an hour and you spend an hour a day on social media, that’s $18,250 of your time a year!).
It’s decision time. Smart time investment is all about getting rid of the low values tasks (delegate) and the no value tasks (reject) to make time for the fun stuff (want) and to focus your attention on the tasks that generate your income (musts). So, what you are going to delegate and reject, to make time to fully invest in your musts and wants?
5. Take Control
Step 5 focuses on implementation, momentum and sustaining your success. Once you know how to invest in the 5 SMART Steps, make time for them every year to recalibrate your time habits. Over time, some poor habits may slip back in; or you will want to reject and delegate other tasks now that you know these tasks are not the best use of your time.