If a charity got a dollar for every time I’ve said “I don’t have enough time”, they’d have me as their chief fundraiser. What does “not having enough time” really mean, especially for us entrepreneurs? This article will uncover the true meaning behind this commonly used phrase, and help you become a person who says “there’s always enough time.”
Yesterday I was sitting in a 3500 seat venue with Tony Robbins on stage. He’s a master of delivering content, energising an audience and having people realise what IS possible and I got a huge amount of educational value from the experience. However, the seven hours leading up to Tony were a little different. Around five of those seven hours involved people on stage sharing their strategy on how to achieve financial freedom. For a business thought leader like myself, these strategies were “interesting” but it raised a question in my mind – “do I have enough time to be listening to these guys?”
You have probably experienced the stress, frustration or anxiety when you looked at your watch and realised that time just seems to be running out
As business owners, you have probably experienced the stress, frustration or anxiety when you looked at your watch and realised that time just seems to be running out. I used to feel this way to, and to a small degree, sometimes still do.
This article is written for people just like you. It will give you tools to better manage your time, help you jump into the automatic realisation that “there is enough time” and have you achieve what you want at speeds far faster than you thought were possible.
What is my hourly rate?
If you, like me, have come from a 9-5 world working for somebody else, this simple exercise my help transform your thinking.
How much do you want to earn in a year, before tax?
If say around $100,000 per annum sits comfortably with you, you’re looking at a billable rate of around $45-$50 per hour, depending on how many days you chose to work over the course of that year. This is based on 2088 billable hours for 2015. As a business owner, we need to triple this rate to account for business expenses. So now your rate is around $150 per hour, for every hour that you are “working.”
Is the task I’m doing right now going to generate me $150 per hour?
I now encourage you to ask yourself a question throughout your working day – “is the task that I’m doing right now going to generate me $150 per hour?” If the answer is “no”, then reconsider what task you could be doing instead to generate $150 per hour for the business.
If however, you chose to work on tasks that do not generate your hourly rate, then be prepared to face some consequences – it’s only then that the stress and anxiety of “I don’t have enough time” rears it’s head when you realise that the business is still not generating enough cash.
How long do you take to make a decision?
As a business owner, it’s critical that you are able to make decisions quickly. Too often I see business owners wasting countless hours of indecision only to come to the conclusion that they will deal with it later.
Eight of ten decisions you make will be the wrong decisions
There are a couple of tools that I have used in my business life that dramatically aid the decision making process.
- Eight of ten decisions you make will be the wrong decisions. You need to make those eight decisions to get to the two that work.
Having this concept in mind has helped ease the pressure of making “the right decision” and allowed me to take more of an exploratory approach. It’s an approach of “a wrong decision is better than no decision.”
Whenever I make a decision now, I get excited about what I will learn if the decision doesn’t achieve my desired outcome.
- Have a mission statement. A mission statement is a critical business decision tool because it allows you to ask “Does this decision fit with my mission statement?” and leaves you with three choices:
- If yes, then the decision is “yes”,
- If no, then the decision is “no”,
- If you don’t know, then the decision is “I need more information”
As a side note, you can extend this and have a personal mission statement for your life. Imagine how powerful that would be for making life decisions!
So, from now on practice the concept that you are a quick decision maker in every day life. Notice how much freer life is like this and how much more time you have on your hands for the things that count.
How long do I focus for?
One time at work Christmas Party I received an award that gave me a jolt. Initially I had no idea of what this award meant, but I played along with the gag that the award was funny. It wasn’t until the next day, when the fog of the night before cleared up, that the truth stared me right in the face.
The award that I received was the “Look, something shiny” award.
I get distracted really easily when I’m working
When the gag hit me, I realised that my work colleagues were telling me that I get distracted really easily when I’m working. When it is time to knuckle down and concentrate on a specific task, I naturally looked for something to distract me.
When we switch from one task to another, it takes time and energy to engage and access the areas of the brain that are required for that new task. It’s similar to jumping from a running machine in a gym, to a cycling machine. You’ve got to adjust the cycling machine for your body, set-up the type of workout you want to achieve and then build up a bit of momentum before you’re back in the zone and training at an optimum level. I think you would agree that if we continually switched between these two machines every minute at the gym, then it wouldn’t be a very efficient workout.
Have a guess at how much time you throw away by jumping between tasks
Take a good honest look at how easily you get distracted when working on a task. If you find that you do get distracted easily, have a guess at how much time you throw away by jumping between tasks. Add that time up over a day, over a week or over a year. It’s probably quite significant.
As a side note, if you have an employee who behaves this way, you can leverage of this. Trial that person in a role where long periods of concentration are not required, such as a customer service role where there are a constant flurry of calls feeding in, each of a short duration.
How do you as a business owner, overcome this dilemma?
Having an awareness of you do will allow you to make choices. Take a good look at your typical working day today and take note of every single time that you’re about to lose focus from the task that you’re on right now. Every time that you catch yourself, make a choice – do you switch tasks and waste a little time or do you build that focus muscle and continue on the task?
If you need to, set up agreed boundaries and rules around your working day. Some ideas include:
- Have a conversation with your mum asking her to only call after 5:30pm, unless of course there’s a medical emergency,
- Setting up agreed work times with your partner, then shutting your home office door until work time is complete,
- Closing all distractions on your laptop or phone such as Facebook, email, Instagram etc.
- Turning off all other distractions such as radio, TV,
- Having specific times for lunch, making coffee etc.
When an idea first pops into your head you probably experience the excitement, enthusiasm and a whole lot of energy to get started. As you got going along the road, you normally hit some stumbling blocks and something called “reality” kicks in. It’s only then that you may start to realise that it’s going to take longer than you had expected.
Plan to take three times longer than you think it will
This is completely normal. A large proportion of the population feels exactly the same way and has the exact same challenges as you, so here are a few pointers to help you out:
- Leverage off experts
When you are about to start a task that you’ve never worked on before, track down an expert on that type of task. People who are experts in a field are always happy to extend a helping hand and share advice.
- Time yourself
When you are about to work on a task that you know you will be repeating in your business, keep a log of how long that task takes you. This sounds really simple, but when you get in the habit of doing this, it’s really quite powerful.
- Plan to take three times longer than you think it will
In 2011 I took on my first client as an I.T. project manager. I was astounded when my mentor tripled my time estimates for project tasks. I approached him and asked why he had done it. His simple reply was “in my experience, you always cater for the unexpected.”
I was surprised to notice however that his estimates were pretty close to spot on. My learning from this was that there is always something that throws a spanner in the works and always something that had been overlooked when making estimates.
- Take the pressure off
I normally work like a demon when I put myself under time pressure. I’m completely focused, I do some of my best work and all interruptions are thrown out of the room. But there’s a catch, when I’m finished, I experience the adrenal low, I feel drained and tired and I feel like I need to take a break for 24 hours before starting another task. In a nutshell, it’s stressful. Working like this is simply not sustainable over the long term and not necessary.
A much more sustainable approach is to take your foot off the accelerator a little. Give yourself a break and work under peaceful conditions. Still maintain your focus and produce best work, but do it without the adrenal spike. You will be surprise at refreshed you will feel and how ready for the next task you will be when you finish.
- The perfectionist never finishes
I’m all for spending time to produce something professional but there comes a time when we need to set up limits. Many of my clients get caught in the trap of spending countless hours or days getting something absolutely perfect but never achieving anything.
My mentors have built multi-million dollar businesses on the philosophy of “make a mess and clean it up later.” This concept seemed counter intuitive to me initially but these days it makes total sense (note: this approach stops making sense when you turn over $10 million or more). In the grand scheme of things, were are probably only reaching a tiny percentage of our potential target market. Using our tiny (at the moment) customer base as a test bed, allows us to understand what our target market really wants and allows us to perfect things on the run.
So when you are planning your day (yes, I said plan your day), always go with the worst possible scenario and overestimate. Work in a focused but peaceful state and take any spare time as a bonus. And lastly, set a time limit on how much time you spend on a single task.
What are my beliefs?
I remember a close friend of mine offering some help a few years ago. She had seen my pattern of using the “I don’t have time” excuse and decided to challenge me on this. She asked a few simple questions such as “really? no time at all?”, “where are you spending your time?”, “how do you manage your time right now?”
That last question was a killer for me. I remember getting pretty angry at her for asking such a question because deep down I knew that I wasn’t managing my time at all. I had made a generalisation that I didn’t have time in my schedule because it was such a great excuse for getting out of things that I didn’t want to do, and a great excuse for not having to step up to the level that I’m really capable of.
Business is 80% psychology and 20% strategy. Tony Robbins
I decided to take a look at my psychology and how it was affecting my time management. I quickly realised that I had a huge number of beliefs, or programming, that were stopping me from managing my time effectively. These beliefs included “I need to this to be perfect before anyone can see it”, “I don’t have enough time” and “I’m no good with managing my time.”
When we keep telling ourselves these beliefs, we keep acting on them.
The simple decision to use a different belief makes a world of difference. When you notice the restrictive belief pop into your head take note, overcome the resistance to change and tell yourself a different story. For example, I now tell myself, “I am great at managing my time.” Initially my belief muscle wasn’t strong but I kept telling myself this new story. The stronger this new muscle became, the more my psychology became aware of how good I am at time management.
Some practical tools to help
I’m a big fan of simplicity. I’ve done a little research and have found a great tool which will help you be aware of where you spend your time – as awareness is the first step to solving any challenge.
Take a couple of minutes now and register yourself at www.toggl.com. Set up a few tasks that you would normally work on during the day and put a dollar producing figure on those tasks.
From there on, all you need to do is press a “play” button when you’re working on a task. Remember to include a “non-productive” task.
This simple software will help you track where your time is being spent during the day. When you have this information – you can make decisions about what needs to change.
Become a master of your time
I am always picking up tips from fellow entrepreneurs on how to master my time. A few which may help take you to that next level are:
- Driving time
I used to be one of those people who would sit in traffic cursing the amount of time I am wasting. Now I take advantage of this time by making follow up calls and connecting with new potential business partners. These days, I almost crave a traffic jam so I can spend more time on the phone.
- Exercise time
I use exercise time to educate myself. Before stepping out for a run, I load up my phone with audio tapes of the topics that I am currently mastering. When I’m out on the run, my unconscious mind is open and sucks up the education like a sponge.
- Sleep time
I use the time before sleep wisely. I will read a chapter of a book that I am educating myself on, which helps relax and focus my mind, ready for sleep. When it’s about time to switch off the light, I stick my headphones in my ears and listen to a meditation. One of my favourites, is the meditation that has me switch on and take ownership if my finances. The results so far have been astounding and I don’t even have to have my eyes open!