8 Ways to Create More Time in Your Day

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.”

~ Charles Buxton

8 Ways to Create More Time in Your Day

By Andrea Novakowski

Janis, who owns a consulting company, confided to me in our recent coaching session that she really wanted to write a book. It would lend credibility to her business, she felt, and open up more speaking opportunities. One problem: she was already working 60 hours a week, and she had two children in their teens. She didn’t want her business or family to suffer while she took on an additional project. Short of cloning herself, Janis couldn’t see a way around this dilemma.

Where could Janis find more time? Where can anyone? It’s one of the universal challenges of owning a business. As the owner, it often feels like you’re playing many different roles: CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, CIO, CKO. But in reality, there’s just one of you, and you have only so many hours in the day. To really get things done, you need to start shedding some of those hats.

Think about your daily to-do list: is it defined by your priorities, or by your fears? Are you spending too much time reacting to the latest emergency and not enough on tasks that add value to your company?

It’s time to take control of your calendar!

Janis did. She and I created a plan to adjust her schedule so she could begin her writing project. You can find extra hours in your day, too. Here’s how to do it.

First of all, assess the situation. For one week, chart your daily activities in 15-minute blocks. Use color coding to show the kinds of tasks you’re doing during each block: email, project work, travel, client work, marketing, networking, etc. This will give you a visual on how much time you spend in each area of your business. Journal about what you’ve learned, or share your findings with a trusted advisor or coach.

Envision how you’d like it to change. Take a blank calendar and design how you’d like your ideal week to look. Which tasks would you like to do more of? Less? Which activities make the best use of your skills and talents?

Now, consider how to move from the current situation to your ideal.

Some suggestions:

  1. Just stop. I bet there are tasks you’ve been doing forever that could be discontinued — or done more simply with the help of today’s better technology. Click here for how to decide if something in your schedule is worth continuing, or if you should drop it.
  2. Outsource. Identify the little jobs that are bogging you down, that you don’t enjoy, or that you’re not very good at. Find someone else to do them. Potential resources: elance.com, interns, your kids.
  3. Hire someone. If there are a sufficient number of tasks you want to move off your plate and there’s no way to take your business to the next level without freeing up a large portion of your time, hiring more help is an investment that could pay off.
  4. Know your staff. To really get things humming, it’s important to understand what motivates your employees. The more you shift your workflow to the right people and tie it to their individual values and goals, the better results you’ll get.
  5. Learn from others. Great teams share insights and ideas on how to work smarter. Do you have good people supporting you? You may be able to adopt some of their strategies. Perhaps there are things they could they take over from you so they, too, can learn and grow (or because they can already do it ten times faster than you).
  6. Delegate. Whenever I suggest this to my clients, I invariably get one of two reactions: “How can anyone do this as well as I can?” or “I can’t wait to take this pile of stuff and dump it on Cara’s desk!” If either describes your attitude, you have some work to do before you can let go. Teach the new person your process, but be open to their input. Have a plan to get them started and help them succeed. Don’t just dump and run. Over time, there will be less participation required from you. Your helper may even find quicker, easier ways to do the task.
  7. Park your ego. Are you afraid people will think less of you if you hire a secretary to answer your calls or an assistant to schedule your appointments? Don’t get wrapped up in assumptions about how it will look if you let someone else manage these jobs. Do what works for you — and let other people do what works for them.
  8. Change your self-talk. Maybe you’ve been telling yourself things like “I’m the only one who can do this,” “Our clients don’t trust anyone but me,” or “It will take too long to train someone else.” There may be an element of truth to what you’re thinking, but there doesn’t have to be. Start training your employees. Introduce your clients to your staff. Gradually transition some of that work and trust to others.

It will take some time to really dig into your business, examine your own behavior, and make changes. But if you’re like Janis and you want to take on a big new project without making sacrifices in other areas of your life, this is the way to go.

YOUR CALL TO ACTION

Choose the one or two items that would create the most room in your schedule. Create an action plan to put them into practice and start to move from your current situation to your ideal one.