It seems today people are busier than ever. I hear business owners struggling with their time and sounding like it’s something that is out of their control. They get in a reactionary mode and can lead to a sense of overwhelm. We all struggle with moments of feeling pressed for time. However, having a proactive plan for managing the time you spend in your business is a great way to reduce those pressed times. That way you are in the driver’s seat in your business, feel more in control, and be able to continually grow your business and move it forward.
Control the Activities You Can Control
Your phone – set time in your schedule for making and returning calls. People are far more impressed when you return a call with a well thought out answer to their question than by an answered phone and knee-jerk reaction. There was a woman in the first real estate office I worked in who was extremely strict with her time. When she had time blocked in her calendar, which was every morning to make outgoing calls, she did not accept any incoming calls. She focused only on the activities that she could control in her business. I remember one time, a client stopped by the office and wanted to speak to her. He was very insistent on seeing her and she was even more insistent that she was not available, he could make an appointment to see her another time. That was how much she guarded that time of making outgoing calls and being in control of her business. And yes, she was one of the highest producing agents in the office. I am not quite as strict with my call times. If I receive an incoming call while I’m making outbound calls, I will answer it. Often times it’s someone on my list to call anyways so it works out nicely. One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make is being a slave to their phone and allowing a ringing phone to interrupt whatever they are doing. The constant interruption absolutely sabotages their productivity. Having focused time in your business to get done what you need to get done will help you stay in control of your business. It is your responsibility as a business owner to set those boundaries. Your Schedule – setting time in your schedule for specific activities is a great way to make sure you have time to do those activities that you want to do regularly but may not get to when you live in reaction mode. Items to time block in your calendar (weekly and monthly)
- Sales appointments
- Phone calls
- Marketing – Including Giving Activities to your Referral Network
- One to ones with your Referral Team
- Projects (working ON your business)
- Follow up
- Business and Personal Development – “Sharpening your Saw”
- Personal time (fun, rejuvenation, time with family, etc.)
As you can see, I devote a significant amount of time to business growth. It is our responsibility as business owners to continually grow our business, keeping new business coming into your company. If we lose sight of this, as I see many business owners do, we run the risk of going out of business. I see many business owners experience the ups and downs of cash flow in their business when they lose sight of bringing in new business because they are taking care of existing business. Yes, it’s important to our customers to take care of them, and if we are no longer in business, it will be impossible to help them. We have to have consistent cash flow in our business to stay in business, and in order to do that we have to honor and carefully guard our time to generate new business.
A principle that I have learned and used for years is time blocking. That’s where you chunk your time into like activities. Having a block of time to do your calls, having a half day set aside for sales appointments, etc. We are far more productive when we focus on only one activity at a time. “A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.” – Cal Newport Cal goes on to share that you can block time to deal with reactionary activities. If you need that time in your calendar, then book that time too. I believe that time blocking and taking control of your business activities creates a sense of confidence and highly reduces stress because you know you have time already allotted to taking care of everything that needs to be done for a productive week. I would encourage you to play with this concept. This doesn’t have to be super rigid. One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is that you get to choose what you do with your time. I may take an hour or two out of my schedule during the weekday to do some shopping, when stores are less crowded (especially during the holidays!) then spend an hour or two on a Saturday or Sunday at home completing a business task. This way, I do not worry about getting my errands done – or the stress that running them can cause – and I enjoy my weekends more because I can focus on what I want to do. You get to control your schedule, it’s a freeing thing! Because productivity depends on the individual, how you block your time is likely to need adjusting at first. I promise, though, that if you do this you will make huge strides in your productivity, feel more in control of your business, and feel more on top of your world! – Maile Collmer