For many small businesses time is even scarcer than money but managing time effectively can have as much impact on your business as managing money.
So, what is proper use of time?
Proper use of time is whatever fits your purpose, is effective and overall generates the required level of income you require. In other words, you need to use your time in such a way as it delivers the success that you want.
Why is managing your time important?
Manage time effectively, whether it’s yours or your employees, is crucial for a successful, growing business. Ineffective and improper use of time impacts on your profit, and can result in dissatisfaction for yourself or those working with you.
When you’re financially dependent on a business, then someone somewhere has to pay for both yours and your staff’s time, your overheads, and your income. Time working ‘on the business’ can be as equally valuable to working ‘in the business’ but this time also needs to be funded in some way. This is one of the greatest dilemmas for many self-employed individuals whereas employing people offers some opportunity to delegate work in a productive way.
Running a business also has an impact on your health and wellbeing. In addition to generating enough money to live, any business owner should also take into account their work/life balance. How you use your time contributes significantly to both.
When in business one of the key questions has to be ‘am I making enough money out of my time’ followed closely by ‘am I enjoying my time in business?’ If the answer to both is yes then I would argue you are managing your time well but there may still may be room for improvement.
Where does your time go?
The main aim of managing your time is to gain a balance between paid business activities, unpaid business activities, and everything else that makes up your life (self-time).
If you’re self-employed this can be more challenging in the sense that you need to complete both the paid work and the non-paid jobs that need doing and still generate enough profit to live on. As an employer you have some options to delegate work and not necessarily need to be paid directly for all of your time.
It may be easier to think of your time in four different categories.
- The amount of productive time you spend for which you are paid adequately (P/P – productive and paid). This is usually actually doing the work for customers.
- The amount of productive time you spend on work and don’t get paid (P/U – productive and unpaid). This will include those jobs that have to be done to manage the smooth running of the business (the books, marketing, ordering, estimating, looking after staff etc.)
- The amount of unproductive time you spend on work and don’t get paid (U/U – unproductive and unpaid). You don’t get paid for this time, and it doesn’t contribute to the smooth running of the business e.g. putting things right that weren’t done right first time, dealing with complaints etc.
- The amount of time you spend on ‘life’ (life or self-time). Your leisure time, what you enjoy plus the day to day - your family and home-life, interests, holidays (yes, holidays!).
To find out where your time goes you could keep a simple diary for a week or a month to gain a better understanding. If you use an online diary you could colour code your entries. Either way you need to keep a record for each of the four categories but you will need to be honest with yourself and reasonably accurate.
The example diary below could be for a self-employed person delivering a service to customers.
If you think the template above would be helpful you can download it belowError loading Partial View script (file: ~/Views/MacroPartials/Hubspot Convertor.cshtml)
Observations can be made about the recorded 61.5 total hours for the week.
- 29 hours used on productive work that is paid for.
- 21 hours used on productive work but isn’t charged for.
- 6.5 hours are wasted on unproductive time - not charged for.
- 5 hours are enjoyed on life or self-time.
What are your thoughts?
Once you have recorded your own time management diary you can make a judgement on whether you feel use of your time is acceptable or where there is room for improvement.
Answering ‘yes’ (honestly) to the following statements means you’re definitely on the right track?
- I know how I spend my time.
- I can account for all of my time.
- As much of my time is as productive as it can be.
- I get paid for all the time I work ‘in the business’ including time working ‘on the business’.
- No-one else can do the work I do – I’ve checked.
- I balance my time between working on the business and working in the business.