Time Management Plan
What is a Time Management Plan? It’s an intentional plan for investing your time wisely by blocking high-value activities into a default calendar as appointments and holding yourself accountable for executing them on time.
Why is a Time Management Plan important? The objective of getting control of your schedule is NOT to find you more time to do more productive work – it is to find you more time to do anything you want, hopefully outside of work. 3 questions to determine if you really need a TMP include
- How many hours a week are you working and are you Ok with that?
- Could you take 2 weeks out of the business and not worry? Family crisis, personal health crisis, vacation?
- Do you really own your schedule or does it own you?
To get a new Tip every 3 days to your email, register to the right.. To your Success!
I have always said there are two things that once they are gone, they are gone for good, and they are your credibility and your time. Time could well be your most valuable asset and yet most people in general and small business owners in particular use it like it was a renewable resource.
To create a TMP you need to follow a few fairly easy steps.
- If you cannot measure it you cannot manage it. The first thing you have to do is figure out where you are currently spending your time. Your calendar is a good start but honestly not nearly enough. What I recommend is that you use a simple spreadsheet where you track your time in 15-minute increments. If you typically start work from home at 0630 over coffee before heading to the office or shop and then spend a couple hours in the evening doing anything work related, your daily tracking should go from 0630 to maybe 2000 (8 PM). Here is what you do
- During the day as often as possible fill out the worksheet (online or a printed copy). Don’t get ahead of this by trying to analyze or comment on what you did – just note what you did and for how long.
- For every 15 minutes write what activity you are doing. The real key here is to be completely HONEST. If you spend 30 minutes browsing on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) put in 2 x 15 minute blocks and call it Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever browsing.
- If you have a 1 hour staff meeting put in 4 x 15 minute blocks.
- Ideally you would track your time for a working week as each day is unique but over the week a number of trends will develop.
- Track driving time, phone time, email time, think time..all your time in 15 minute increments.
2. At the end of each day review each entry and start to categorize your time. I recommend you use 2 or 3 different techniques to complete this.
- The Covey Matrix which is based on how Eisenhower managed his time. If you are not familiar with this, I recommend you read Chapter 3 of Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In a nutshell you are deciding on whether the time spend was Important or Unimportant and Urgent or Not-Urgent.
- In his book Clockwork, Mike Michalowicz advises you look at your time based on the 4 D’s of Doing, Deciding, Delegating and Designing. This is a more advanced way of looking at your time but it is a very interesting perspective.
- The Skill (Value)/Fun (Interest) Matrix. This is a really good gut way of looking at your time. Again a matrix with High and Low Fun versus High and Low Skill and note the higher the Skill required to complete the task the more intrinsic Value of the time. Human nature tells us we are going to do the things we like to do and try not to do the things we dislike doing but what about the Value of these activities? You might love doing some tasks but they require few advanced skills and generate no revenue and could be done very inexpensively by a real or virtual assistant.
Look at a couple of examples. Just because you spent an hour in a staff meeting does not mean it was the best use of your time. A lot of standing meetings are a waste of time or maybe half the meeting was really good and half was a waste. Maybe you categorize it under Covey’s matrix as Not Urgent and Not Important for 30 minutes and Not Urgent and Important for 30 minutes. On the Value/Fun matrix you could assign the whole hour as Low Fun and Low Value to you as the owner. Totally your call but you have to do this.
Emails. Are they really Urgent? What about incoming phone calls? Were you aware that when you allow interruptions like emails and phone calls to take you away from highly productive work, a University of California study found it can take up to 23 minutes to get really focused again?
3. A-DOER. This is my mnemonic that you now use to decide what to do with the activities you have spent a few days or a week measuring and quantifying. For each activity or task you have identified see which of these can be treated using the A-DOER method which is
- A = Automate. Can you find a way to have this task automated, not just with software but with machines or robots depending on the task?
- D = Delegate. Can you delegate this task to a subordinate? Delegating is not just about telling someone to do something; it is both an art and a science and I recommend you review the post on Delegation Skills.
- O = Outsource. Sometimes you have nobody to Delegate a task to on your team (and this could be a trigger for a new hire) but you could outsource this task. If you have never heard of Fiver or Upwork, these are just the two most popular sites to find people who will work for you from anywhere in the world for far less than you might pay a local employee. Definitely worth looking into.
- E = Eliminate. Some tasks can simply be eliminated. Try doing this to a couple to start and see if it has any negative impact on your business. Focus on tasks or activities that are not core to your business.
- R = Reduce. Sometimes you can simply reduce the amount of time and/or energy you spend on a task. Not ready to completely eliminate this – just start by reducing it.
4. Set Priorities. Once you have ‘downsized’ your daily and weekly tasks and activities using the A-DOER strategy, you now need to look at what is left and set priorities. If you have more than just a few priorities you effectively have none so this is really a critical task to complete.
5. Move to a Default Calendar.
Rather than using your calendar and to do lists to track and manage your tasks
and activities start to move to what some call TimeBoxing or TimeBlocking and
set all this up into a Default Calendar. Google TimeBlocking or TimeBoxing for
a lot of online resources to show you how to specifically do this. The objective
here is to allocate time every day or week for all the key things only you can
do. Colour code them for even more clarity. Set reminders to tell you when to start and stop specific blocks of time. Stick to it and resist the urge to move
off the block, especially for minor distractions.
This is not as easy as
it sounds. It takes time and patience and a lot of trial and error to get it right,
but the benefits can be staggering. Imagine having the time freedom to take
more time off or start a new pet project or whatever is important to you. if you would like to get some assistance with putting together your Time Management Plan feel free to book a short call with me by clicking on the button below.