As entrepreneurs, we’ve all been there. We put ourselves out there, we find a great client, get a big job, complete the job, the job requires a few revisions, we get another job before finishing the first job, and now we’re rushing to complete two jobs while starting a third. This is unfortunately the realty for most entrepreneurs. And this cycle will definitely lead to creative burnout if you’re not careful.
A recent 2017 Gallop poll reported that approximately 44 percent of adults in the USA struggle with time management. These same adults also reported that this lack of time elevated stress levels. They also those elevated stress levels prevented them from doing the things they wanted to do. So as you can see your definitely not alone in the struggle.
As a result countless time management solutions have been created. Self-help books, YouTube Channels, and even entire websites dedicated to the issue. But with so many voices to listen to, it’s hard to shift through them and find what’s going to work for you. Plus as a busy entrepreneur, barely have the time to finish all your client work, let alone find the time to start managing your own time.
The truth is most of us aren’t really aware of how much time we are spending on out tasks each day. It’s one of the main reasons we fall behind in our work. When we meet a client we are often more focused on how much as can profit from the opportunity, rather than on how much time we are going to have to spend on the work. We often make promises before we consider how much time they are going to take away from other tasks. In essence, time is its own expense.
Many entrepreneurs don’t quantify their time. They will measure clicks, pages views, and budgets with scrutiny, but not their own time. This requires a shift in mindset. You need to start looking at your time as its own unique resource and watch how you’re spending it. One of the best ways to achieve this is through time tracking.
Time tracking is the act of monitoring how much time you are spending on a specific activity or task. This involves keeping a log or downloading an app (insert hyperlink to product) that will measure exactly how much time you are spending on a task. You may be surprised to find that you are spending more time on certain tasks than you thought you were. Do you know how long it takes you to write an analytics report? The exact amount of time it takes? Unless you’ve actually set a stop watch as soon as you started then you probably don’t. By starting time tracking you will start to see your own productivity levels in a whole new way. You will start to see exactly how much time you are spending on tasks and how to reduce it.
Here is an exercise I’d like you to try. Grab a blank sheet of paper and write a 1 page essay regarding your business. It can be a vision statement, a goal setting exercise, or even a list of problems you’ve run into in the past. Your goal will be to fill the entire page up writing. At the top of the page you will write the title to your project and will write how much time you think it will take to complete it. Just before you start writing, I want you to set a timer on your smartphone or computer. You’ll then start the writing task and you won’t stop until its completion. Once you have filled your page up, go ahead and stop your timer. Now write the actual time you spent on the task next to the amount of time you initially wrote. Are you surprised by what you saw?
Whether you spend more time than you expected or less, you now have an example of how Time Tracking (Insert hyperlink to product) can work for you. If you spent more time writing than you expected, then you may want to look for ways to streamline your productivity. Or look for ways to delegate this work to another member of your team. If you spent less time writing than you expected, than perhaps you need to focus more on the writing side of your business. As you’ve now seen it’s a task you can do quite quickly and efficiently.
Next Steps: Master Your or Your Team’s Productivity
Now that you’ve seen how Time Tracking can work for you, it’s time to make an action plan. You’ll want to repeat this time tracking process with various other daily tasks. I’d recommend repeating the exercise with the top 3 tasks you do for your business every day. See how much time your spending on each task and look for ways to optimize just those 3 tasks.
If you happen to lead a team of people, I would encourage you to make it a group assignment. Start by giving your team an assignment such as creating a business proposal. Once they begin secretly start a timer. As the group works, pay extra attention to what parts of the task are taking the most time. Is the brainstorming taking too long? Is there too much storytelling and banter in the room?
Once the group has completed the task, allow them to present their proposal. Then you will want to share with them how long their task took and what areas of the task took the longest. It is important to note that the idea here is not to show the team they “failed,” but to use test as a coaching opportunity. By showing your team exactly how long it took them complete their task start to finish, you will be giving them insight into their own performance.
Time Tracking is an excellent Time Management skill to practice. It is a type of routine maintenance you will want to perform on yourself periodically. As your business grows, so will your tasks and responsibilities. It will be easy to toss this practice aside for what seems to be more pressing matters. But it’s important that we continue to look for ways to optimize our performance and save time where we can. By maximizing our time, we can maximize our efforts to scale our businesses and be the successful entrepreneurs we want to be.