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As you know, there are countless ways to describe time and the concept of “managing it.” We’ve all heard the phrases and clichés: “Time flies,” “There just aren’t enough hours in the day” and “Wow, where did the time go?” Most of us use these all too often, to the point where we actually start believing time is somehow lacking in our lives and businesses.
As progressive contractors, we have a limited resource when it comes to time, right? Absolutely wrong! That is simply a belief you hold which is keeping you from your full potential. Sure, we only have 24 hours in a day, but we all have the same 24 hours and the exact same amount of time. Those 24 hours are “clock time,” which is different than “real time.”
We need to think about this concept of real time, where time becomes relative. Real time is what you can control. It’s how you can grow yourself and your business and how you can break the limiting beliefs currently holding you back.
The phrase “Time flies,” for instance, is a completely relative statement. If you are doing something you love, then time does seem to go by quickly. If you are, say, getting a cavity filled at the dentist’s office, I would assume time is not exactly flying by for you at that moment.
When time becomes a relative concept, the bigger question turns into, “What am I doing with my time?”
Since time is the only resource we all share in 100% equality, we better begin assessing how we’re spending our time and what kind of return we are receiving on our time investment. Management consultant and author Steven Covey once said, “The key is in not spending time but investing it.” I’m sure you can’t work any harder. I’m pretty sure you can’t work many more hours in the day. However, I’m also absolutely certain you can create more time to focus on the things that really drive your business.
What are you currently investing your time in? Are they the things that will provide great returns for you in the future or are you spending your time on things that don’t have maximum impact for your business?
My friend Joe Calloway recently wrote a great book titled, “Be the Best at What Matters Most.” Joe is a productivity and business culture expert who believes in the power of time efficiency and effectiveness. You may not necessarily find any new crazy earth-shattering concepts in this book, but it may help you discover what areas you need to focus on to create more freedom in your schedule.
Create freedom, say ‘no’
In order to create more freedom for yourself, you must realize it’s completely up to you to figure out how to do this, because you are the one who dictates your schedule. What are you allowing to fill your time? You will never simply “find time” to do things, you must create the time to do things. If you desire more free time, you need to figure out how to be more effective with the time you are spending and investing.
To do this as business leaders, a good starting place is to focus on the top three things that will drive the most growth and profitability every single week. Focus on those three activities and delegate the rest. Your top three may be finances, marketing and training, while someone else’s top three may be vision, training and marketing. You need to figure out where you are personally most effective and focus your time on those three things.
This also relates to knowing your personal strengths and being able to delegate tasks to the individuals in your organization who are most qualified to handle them.
This isn’t the easiest thing for many business owners and there are two major challenges regarding the concept of time management. The first one is learning what areas to focus on that will make the biggest impact for you. The second is structuring your time to get those big things accomplished.
In our weekly mastermind coaching group, we’ve been discussing this topic lately and it’s worth looking at in terms of your life and business. When your time is focused on the three things that impact your business the most, you will start to feel less stressed and frazzled. The key point to remember about working on your top three is that when you are engaged in working on them, be fully engaged. Keep distractions to a minimum and allow yourself to really focus on productivity and effectiveness.
Keep in mind that time management is a myth. There is no such thing as time management! You may be thinking I’ve totally gone off the deep end now, but stay with me for a couple more minutes here. There is no such thing as time management, there is only people management. You can’t manage time. You can only manage yourself when it comes to how you spend or invest your time.
Time management is truly managing your own choices regarding what you say “yes” or “no” to during any given day. If there is one word that will set you free and put you back in control of your schedule, it’s the word “no.”
You need to begin saying “no” to certain things that don’t drive the business. You need to stop attempting to reinvent the wheel and simply implement a proven system. Our personal egos get in the way of peak performance because we unconsciously overcomplicate things so we have problems to solve.
If you’re running around putting out fires all day long (as most contractors do), you must stop and ask yourself a very simple and clear question, “Who is the arsonist?” Most of the time the biggest arsonist in the company is the leader! If you are completely effective with your time, you become less focused on the insignificant details that can be delegated. You are more focused on the things you do well in terms of running and growing a profitable business.
Stop the chaos, plan your time investments wisely and choose to become laser-focused on the things that will produce the best results. It’s time to stop running around from one thing to the next and start viewing your day in real time, not clock time. This will set you free and allow you to be more effective in not only your business operations but your life in general.