The Cost of Doing It Yourself

As a business owner, would you pay someone $200 an hour to pick up supplies, post on social media, or perform customer follow-up? Probably not.  Yet every day, small business owners overpay for such things by doing it themselves.

What Is Your Time Worth?

We all value our time.  But do you put a value on your time?  When you work for someone else, it’s easy to do – your rate of pay.  But as a business owner, we don’t tend to think that way.  But it’s a great tool to help you prioritize the work YOU do versus what you delegate or outsource to others.

If you have never done this, here is a simple way to approach it. Let’s consider three things:

  1. What is your personal income goal? What you want to earn in salary or draw?
  2. How many hours per week do you want to work?
  3. How many weeks vacation do you want to take? Yes you should take time off and get away!

Using this information, you can easily calculate your hourly ‘value’ rate. Here is a simple example to demonstrate this:

Let’s assume you want to pay yourself $150,000 annually, work 40 hours a week and take two weeks off for vacation.  Then your hourly value would be annual pay ($150,000) divided by number of weeks (50) divided by number of hours (40) or $75 per hour.

Of course as the owner and leader of your company, you drive results. So shouldn’t you consider that when calculating your value? Here’s a good incentive — replace your personal income with annual sales. For this example, let’s assume $750,000. So your hourly value would be $750,000 / 50 weeks / 40 hours or $375 per hour.

Whichever approach you take, you will quickly realize your time is worth a lot more than you realize. Stop spending time on tasks that you could easily delegate or outsource. Focus more of your time doing the things that only you can do — things that move you and your business forward.

You may not be able to rid yourself of all low-value tasks tomorrow. But there is a cost to doing it yourself. So start eliminating them over time and you will get there.

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Take Control of Time

3 Habits to Help You Take Control of Your Time

Too much to do and not enough time. It’s a common complaint among business owners, but it’s something you can manage when you take control of your time. With a little discipline and a desire to change, you can improve time management skills — and get more done each day.

There’s no quick fix or silver bullet to improve your skills overnight. But little changes done consistently will put you on the right path. It’s a skill worth perfecting because it delivers some great rewards. More productivity. More time to relax. Less stress from missed deadlines. And when you own a business, more money!

If you want to take control of your time and get more done, then let’s create some good habits. By definition, a habit is a behavior or action regularly followed until it becomes almost automatic.

Here are a few that can make a difference when it comes to managing your time.

Set Goals to Stay Focused

No surprise here. Setting goals and reviewing them daily is one of the best habits you can develop for your business and personal success. Clear goals keep you focused on what’s important. They help you prioritize how you spend your time.

Without goals, everything appears important. How will you decide what to work on now, what to work on later or most important, what you should not work on at all?

The key to building goal setting habits is to keep it simple. Write down five or six goals for the next 12 months. Remember to apply the SMART principle – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic (to you) and time-specific.

Next, for each goal you establish, identify 3-4 tasks you need to DO to achieve it. Refrain from listing too many tasks or tactics. It makes it easier to focus, take action and stay on track. Goals without action are simply wishes or dreams.

Finally, review your goals daily and use them as you prioritize your days, weeks and months. Invest more time on the activities that move you toward your goals. Learn to ask yourself – Is doing this moving me toward my goals?

Planning With To Do List.

Routine tasks, those you do daily, likely get done without a reminder. You rarely think about them. They are almost automatic. Meetings you schedule are also likely to happen because they are on your calendar – hopefully.

But what about commitments you make to others? Or unplanned customer or team issues? Or new ideas and strategies for growth that float into your head? Or tasks you identified to support your goals? Or tasks that are important but only need your attention periodically?

As a business owner, you are likely inundated with these things on a daily basis. While most do not require immediate action, they do need action at some point. So you need to capture them easily in one place or they will be forgotten (we are human).

Fortunately, smartphones are a great tool for creating your to-do list. It’s with you most of the time and there are applications to make it easy. While I use Google Task Organizer, Evernote and Wunderlist are also popular apps. Check them out and find one that works for you!

While making a to-do list is important, scheduling time on your calendar to actually work on the tasks is critical. On a weekly basis, review the list and identify the priorities for the coming week. Which tasks do you need to complete or work on? Then block time off on your calendar to work on them.

When it comes to blocking and scheduling your time, keep the following in mind:

– Treat the blocks like appointments – sacred and not to be arbitrarily canceled. If the tasks are important to you and your business, treat them that way.

– Be realistic. Most tasks take longer than we expect and some require smaller blocks over a few days. Don’t over-schedule. You’ll feel better and stay on track.

Plan for Fun. 

Growing up, my dad was a planner. Vacations, family outings, ‘big’ dinners and parties were planned in advance. While we always laughed about it, one day he told me something I never forgot. When you work hard all week, you’ll be a lot more productive when you have things that you look forward to. Think of these as rewards.

He was right. Think about the last time you went on vacation. How much more did you get done the week before simply because you were going away? Whether it’s dinner with your family, a round of golf with friends, trips to the local gym to work out or anything else you enjoy, schedule them so you too have things to look forward to daily, weekly and monthly. It helps my productivity and it may just help yours!

Take Control of Your Time

People skilled in time management stand to gain more from everyday life. And you can conquer it if you take it one step at a time. Try building these habits into your routine. You will feel more in control and your productivity will soar!

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Where Does Your Time Go?

Where Does Your Time Go?

The Secret To Get More Done

It’s no surprise that a lot of new year goals and resolutions include get more done or be more productive.  But  the key to changing behaviors, such as time management, begins with recognizing the problem or need.  If it’s one of your goals, you’ve taken the first step.

Fact, there are only 24 hours in a day.  You can’t add more hours.  But you can get more done when we improve efficiency and eliminate the time wasters.

Below are seven  common reasons why people lose precious time each day along with some suggestions to correct them. The good news is that little improvements in any of these areas help you get more done at work and at home.

Disorganization.  Whether in business or at home, getting organized is a key to getting more done.  If you spend a lot of time ‘looking for stuff’ to start or finish a project  or work in an environment full of clutter and distractions, tasks becomes a chore and take longer to complete.

Solution:  Make getting organized a priority.  Create a filing system (onsite or in the cloud) that works so papers and other important documents are off your desk and stored in a place that is easy to find.  Take advantage of scan technologies to keep important information – without the paper!  Instead of post-it notes, use a calendar and centralized to-do list (paper or electronic) to remind you of important business and personal meetings, tasks and activities.

Unclear Goals/Lack of Focus.  Without clear goals, everything looks like a priority and it’s difficult to focus on the right stuff!

Solution:  Set specific personal and business goals.  Then identify what you need to do in order to achieve them.  Chunk down the activities where needed and schedule time to work on them.  Whether you call it an action plan or not, use this list of goals, activities and completion dates as the litmus test when faced with requests for your time.  Is the task or request moving you closer to your goals or simply a distraction that holds you back?  Say NO to things that don’t move you forward.

Too Many Text and Phone Interruptions.  In the cell phone era, it’s become easy for people to connect with you at any time.  Most people silence phones when in meetings – it’s the professional thing to do! But what about when you are working on projects or other important tasks? These little interruptions rob you of precious time.

Solution:  Silence the cell phone or put it away so it’s not a distraction.  Set expectations and boundaries, define your working hours (even if you work from home) and communicate them to clients, family and friends.

Poor Planning.  If you want to accomplish more, you need to plan better.

Solution:  As I mentioned above, a central to-do list and calendar helps keep you organized and focused. But you need to block off time and put tasks on the calendar to actually work on them.  Most people assume they can accomplish things quicker than they can.  Be reasonable, allow for some unplanned stuff and build in a little buffer time.  Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t finish something. You’ll improve your planning and scheduling as you learn. Just start doing it.

Procrastination.  This is a big time waster and often results when you are unclear on what you need to do  or you are faced with doing something out of your comfort zone.   You know, the tasks you don’t like doing, so you keep putting them off – even though they are important.

Solution:  In his book, Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy provides 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done.  One of the takeaways that I use often is to attack the ‘biggest’ frog first!  Early morning is when I’m at my best, so I try to work on critical tasks at that time.  It also gets the task off my plate early,  so it’s not hanging over me all day long.  I find this works and other suggestions in the book may work for you.  The key – don’t let procrastination stop you from accomplishing what you need to do.

No Routines.  While routines may be boring, they bring a sense of clarity that helps us accomplish more.  Think about some of the routines you employ in your personal life – from getting up in the morning to homework and bedtime routines for children.  These help you operate efficiently without a lot of thought. Employing routines, personally and professionally, contributes to efficiency and helps you achieve more.

Solution:  What routines can you build into your day?  Here are a few to consider:  handling email, returning phone calls, working on projects or business development tasks, attending meetings or conference calls and going to the gym/exercising.

Lack of Training.  When we do something new, it always takes longer.  But as we learn and gain proficiency, the time spent doing goes down.  Think about the first time you used email, text messaging or Quick Books?  They took more time initially, but as you learned and used them, it became easy and efficient.  Training is a way to shortcut the learning and improves efficiency sooner so you get more done.

Solution:   If you lack skills in critical areas, from technology and financials to marketing and time management, get help or invest in training.  It will save precious time now and money in the long-term.

Disjointed Processes.  Systems are one of the best leverage tools out there for busy entrepreneurs.   Streamlining and standardizing procedures to make daily operations easier, efficient and more effective are a key to getting more done – and getting it right each and every time.  They eliminate waste and save you time and money!

Solution:  Make documenting procedures a priority.  Start with the most critical – those that impact your time or income/profit.  Take it one at a time, but get started.  Each system you build saves time and improves profit. It’s a win-win.

Surfing the Web and Social Media.   The introduction of smartphones has literally put everything at our fingertips. It’s a great tool if used with discipline. Be cognizant of the time you spend online.  We often think it will ‘just take a minute’ – and end up online for 10-15 minutes.

Solution:  Take control of your web and social media time and you will have more time to spend on other things.  Set specific times for these activities – preferably non-business hours.  If you tend to get ‘side-tracked’ a timer can be helpful.  Set it for 15 minutes and it will act as a friendly reminder to get done and move on!

If you are not sure where your time is going, then consider doing a personal time study.  It’s easy.  For one-two weeks, literally, write down everything you do each day – from the trivial phone call to project work and appointments.  Note the amount of time you spend on each.  At the end of the study, identify which tasks moved you toward your goals.  So where are the time wasters (tasks and people) in your days? This can be eye-opening and should give you a good starting point to make the changes.

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Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

We’ve all been guilty of procrastination at some time or another.  It’s okay to admit it.  Many business owners link it to poor time management (no time) or lack of planning (no goals).  While this may play a part, procrastination is more about attitude.

Procrastination is putting off or delaying actions or things that need to be done.  In many cases, we put off important tasks while doing low-value stuff.   So why do we put off for tomorrow what we can do today?  While common excuses include no time and not sure what to do, the main reason for most people is ‘I didn’t feel like doing it’.

The things we often put off are the things we don’t like to do – even when they are important.  In his book, Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy provides 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done.  One of the takeaways that I use often is to attack the ‘biggest’ frog first!  Early morning is when I’m at my best so I try to work on critical tasks (even ones I don’t want to do) at that time.  It also gets the ‘task’ off my plate early, so it’s not hanging over me all day long.

Another way to beat procrastination is to break projects into smaller actions.  Big tasks can be overwhelming – so we tend to want to put them off.  Chunk them down and spread them out over smaller periods of time.  Finishing the first task will often motivate you to keep going!

I find these work for me and other suggestions in the book may work for you.  Procrastination is a self-management issue, don’t let it stop you from accomplishing what you need to do to achieve more in your business and in life.

Get Started. Stay On Track

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