Time Management

More business books have been written about time management and achieving goals than any other topic. There are great techniques for doing things more efficiently, such as handling a piece of paper once or how to manage interruptions. However, if you perform the wrong task efficiently, you are not managing your time. The starting place for time management is to know your underlying purpose. You need to have a philosophy both for your business and yourself. Bear in mind you will sleep better at night if your business & personal philosophy are similar.

 

Your philosophy should describe the big picture. If you know what you want to accomplish with your business, then you can accurately allocate your resources. This applies to money, talent and time. Peter Drucker said “It is more important to do the right thing than to do things right”. If you can communicate your philosophy to your staff, you will have a corporate culture. Nothing can lead your business to success more than a great corporate culture.

 

With all the information coming in on a daily basis, speed-reading seems to be an important skill to acquire. Having a philosophy and knowing what you want is a more fundamental skill. For example if you take one minute to decide that you do not need to read a 50,000 word book then you essentially have read 50,000 words per minute.

 

Unless you have a specific reason to withhold information from employees, keep them informed. Let everyone know the company’s plans and performance. This wasn’t as important in the old days, with pigeonhole job descriptions. However, in the knowledge economy every individual must be empowered.  Nothing gives people more power than knowledge.

 

Avoid exceptions, they are always more expensive than expected. There will always be a client, who will ask for something just outside of what you are in business for. Learn to say NO! We were in the business of installing office computers and business software. One client who had just purchased 10 computers for his office asked if we could install a computer at his home. We should have said no but we agreed. After setting up the computer, we were asked to install some software for the kids. We should have said no but we agreed. After setting up the software, we were asked if the dancing rabbit should be singing. We left.

 

Personally, I love to think! However, thinking should not be required. If a situation is likely to come up again, develop a system to handle it. Then you don't have to rethink the solution. Build a policies & procedures manual. Come up with a system were everyone can contribute to it. Remember,  “making a permanent improvement everyday”; should also apply to every staff member. Every complaint, whether from a customer or from an employee, points to an area that should be improved. Don’t just handle the complaint; find a way to prevent it in the future. Improving the quality of both internal and external processes will reduce, instead of increase hassles.  

 

One of the pleasures of business is leveraging your time for your clients. If you spend one hour improving your product so that it saves each of your clients one hour of time, you have made a substantial impact. This is just as true with other aspects of your business. If you can reduce bottlenecks in processing an order or in delivery, you benefit not just the current customer but also all future customers. Sometimes it is necessary to spend one hour doing something that saves one client one hour but keep in mind that you have not grown your business.  

 

Keep the big picture in mind when you decide what projects to take on. The clients will pull you in multiple directions. Making a short term profit on a project that is not part of your business plan will at the very least postpone your goals and perhaps derail your entire business plan.

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