As an entrepreneur, how do you effectively leverage your time? Time is a fleeting commodity that once gone, can never be replaced. The challenge with managing time is that it requires continuous monitoring and self-discipline, but more importantly time management must be goal driven. Understanding how to set priorities is the essence of effective time management. Here are three strategies you can practice and master to more effectively leverage your time.
1. Rely on Your Talents
There are two components used to determine effective time management. The first component is to clearly understand what talents that you and your staff bring to the table. Identifying the skills, knowledge and abilities you possess and spending your time leveraging these talents will provide you with the most productive and profitable impact. The second component is setting your business goals wisely, so that any tasks that are performed drive toward meeting those goals. In other words, entrepreneurs and business owners must always focus on using their available talent in the most effective ways that accomplish their business goals on time.
2. Focus on High-payoff Activities
Looking at time management from another perspective, there is a difference between being busy and being productive. Keeping busy may feel like you are accomplishing things, but in actuality you are simply using time ineffectively. Being productive means that you are completing tasks and activities that move your business forward toward your goals. Being productive requires you to focus on high-payoff activities.
High-payoff activities are those that will provide a significant valuable payoff in the long run. Dealing with high-payoff activities can be difficult, because they are frequently large, complex or time-consuming tasks. In business, the average day includes very little uninterrupted time to concentrate on these sorts of activities, and so they often get delayed, ending up on a back burner.
Characteristics of high-payoff activities
- Directly related to identified goals
- Might be difficult
- Too important to delegate
- Might not be pleasant
- Often involves risk
Low-payoff activities are often short, quick and easy to do, crop up quickly and appear “urgent” in the moment. How many times do you find yourself checking your email, or monitoring social media activities. Maybe you are spending your time filing materials, or logging data into spreadsheets? Those activities matter, but are probably not the best use of an entrepreneur or business owner’s time. Someone else can accomplish these tasks and leave you with more time to devote to high-payoff activities that better utilize your talents.
Characteristics of low-payoff activities
- Not related to identified goals
- Comfortable to accomplish
- Routine tasks
- Noncreative and can easily be delegated
- No risk involved
Effective time management is accepting personal responsibility to manage ourselves to do the right things and to do them in order of priority. Leveraging your time effectively is a priority. The most common mistake people make is attempting to find time to include handling low-payoff activities instead of delegating those responsibilities and, therefore, making time to address high-payoff activities.
3. Focus on Effectiveness
Effective time management does not mean that you complete more tasks in a shorter amount of time. This view may lead to being more efficient, but is it more effective? Is it contributing to choosing to complete high-payoff activities that provide the best return in our business? Consider the following comparison between focusing on efficiency and focusing on effectiveness.
Watch out for focusing solely on efficiency
If you hear yourself making these comments at work, then you might be confusing efficiency for effectiveness and often you find yourself handling low-payoff activities to cram more into your busy schedule. An efficiency focus sounds like this:
- Can we speed up this process?
- It’s faster to do it myself, so I will
- Let’s call a meeting about this issue
- Meeting all deadlines is the goal
However, an effectiveness focus sounds like this:
- Should we be doing this process at all?
- Who else can I train so I don’t have to keep doing it?
- Is it worth the extra time and effort?
- Is there an alternative to a costly meeting?
To effectively leverage your time, first, determine your low- and high-payoff activities. Second clarify the goals that your business is moving toward. Third, delegate your low-payoff activities whenever possible. Fourth, spend as much time as possible focusing on your high-payoff activities to drive the business toward meeting those goals. You’ll find yourself being much more productive rather than busy.
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