There’s a song entitled “Time,” by Pink Floyd that could be the eulogy of unfulfilled dreams, wasted youth, and business goals tossed to the side in a pile of “I just couldn’t find the time.”
The first stanza of the song says:
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Entrepreneurs have to be just as vigilant in managing their time, as they are in their marketing and business development skills. There are hundreds of tasks that need to be completed and dozens of people to meet with. The question is what should come first and how do you decide which problem or project to address first?
The solution is to become really good at Prioritizing. Here are a few tips that I use to prioritize my work on a weekly basis:
1. Start with the end in mind.
Think about what you want to accomplish in the long run, such as additional sales, implementation of a new client management system or the development of a social media plan?
2. Make a list.
Years ago when I was a newspaper reporter, we had to turn in a “story budget” every Monday morning. This budget informed the editors on which stories we would be working on that week, so that they could plan the layout of the paper and get a sense of which stories would be on the front page or on one of the inside pages.
3. Ask Yourself Three Questions.
As you read your list of “To Do’s” ask yourself these questions: (1) What is the most important thing I need to get done this week? (2) How am I going to get it done? (3) Who can help me? Entrepreneurs are really bad at asking for help because they are “doers.” This is a great trait, but understand which task are essential from the one’s that someone else can do. Some things in your business only YOU can do – like negotiate a big contract. Other things can be done by an employee, a consultant, or another business owner that you barter with to trade services with, such as graphic design services in trade for event planning services. So designate tasks to others to reserve your time and attention to making boss moves.
4. Show Up & Communicate
When pushing through the day, it’s easy to become bogged down in a task and lose track of time. Business owners and leaders must be careful about respecting the clock. When you’re late for an appointment or miss a deadline it shows that you don’t respect other people’s time. This can be devastating for a business. If something happens and you are going to be late, then communicate and provide an updated timeline. When you receive a phone call or email from a contact, vendor, or a customer – RESPOND. It lets them know that you’ve read the email, you may not have an answer right away, but don’t put off responding. Go ahead and let them know that you’ve read their email or heard their request, and you will get back with them. Then, make a point to get back to them in a timely fashion.
Finally, make a commitment to yourself to make time for you. You need time to rest, to think, to dream and imagine how your business will be the solution to problems that others are facing.