Time – Use it effectively to build your amazing business

Libby Knight, dressed in a navy shirt and jeans, leans on the back of a pink sofa

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Time – Use it effectively to build your amazing business

Time management, especially during a pandemic, is often the hardest task for many of us. With busy lives, responsibilities and commitments, it can feel impossible to make the time to start, grow and manage your business, but I’m here to help you make that happen.

From years of experience working in business and product development, in-office and from home, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learnt. Here are my tips, techniques and practical advice on how to build and expand a profitable business by creating a focused and effective strategy, that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.

 

Why is it so hard to find the time?

Starting and running a business is an intimidating task. With so much information out there, it can feel like there’s a never-ending list of things to do. But it’s really about finding what works for you, deciding what you want to achieve, and then taking the necessary steps. Don’t expect to be able to do everything in one day! With 168 hours in a week, it’s about prioritising your time and carving out space to work on your business.

You’ve got to make conscious choices with your time for your thoughts and ideas to come to life. Fit the rest of your priorities around that. If you’re finding yourself making excuses for this, maybe this particular project is not right for you right now; if you’re not making time for it, you’re probably not emotionally attached to it. Genuine passion and commitment are what will drive your business development – where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

The value of time:

We’re often unaware of how much time we’re wasting, from looking at our phones to stretching out tasks and procrastinating. So, how can you manage your time better?

  • If you’re able to reclaim just an hour a week or a day, you can make progress by making short, concentrated and focused bursts of work. Knowing you’ve only got a smaller amount of time, rather than all day, can force you to be productive in that time frame.
  • Change your mindset. Battling and stressing about lack of time ironically takes up the most of it. Time is something we cannot change, but we can change our approach to it. Recognise your negative thought patterns and actively alter them.
  • Be realistic about the time that you have. If there is an allotted 2 hours to do something, don’t worry about not having 8 hours.
  • Plan. At the beginning of your day, know what time you have and how you want to use it. Having a written plan with a timescale or deadline increases your chances of success. Again, be realistic with the time you have in the day. Don’t set yourself up to fail by creating a long and overwhelming list of to-do’s.

How to find the time:

  • Get up a little earlier and use this time if this works for you. Most people are more productive in the morning, but some are in the evening, so listen to your daily body clock.
  • Arrange your day to include the time you need. If you have children, let a partner or family member share the time or keep them occupied with an activity or screen/ garden time.
  • Get creative with your time and fit it around what works best for you. Monday- Friday 9-5 working hours aren’t feasible for everyone – let yourself have a break midday or the morning if you have the time to work in the evening, or work a weekend and have a weekday off.  Set boundaries that work for you.

How to be productive:

  • When sitting down to focus, really clear away any distractions. Switch off all of your notifications except for what is necessary (emails and calls). Turn your phone upside down and on silent, or even put it in another room.
  • Consider your environment – a work-focused environment that is as distraction-free as possible is essential (put a ‘please knock’ sign on the door etc.).
  • Always write down your lists and ideas as they come to you; this stops you from being overwhelmed and helps to organise your thoughts.
  • Your daily to-do list should only be up to 6 tasks, listed in order of priority.  Each should have clear value to you, your business or your family. Don’t include smaller tasks that only take a few minutes; keep your list manageable and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Where to focus your time for your business:

  • Only learn what you need to get to the next step in your business.
  • Don’t waste time producing something unless you know it is required – do your research for your marketplace.
  • Don’t be overwhelmed by the never-ending technology and marketing available; your business will evolve, so keep it simple to start with.

Productivity tricks:

  • If you have a finite amount of time, use the Pomodoro Technique: Set the timer on your phone to 25 minutes and focus on a single task in this time with no distractions. Then break for 5 minutes – stretch your legs, get some fresh air, look away from a screen, keep hydrated – before the next 25 minutes. You can do this for as long as you have time, up to 4 times. It’s okay to go over the 25 minutes if you’re in a flow, but don’t over-extend yourself, and feel the value of the 5-minute break.
  • Stick with one task and continue it until it’s finished (if possible), rather than jumping in between.  Transitioning between tasks absorbs more time than you think.
  • ‘Eat your frog’ first thing; do the most challenging task to start with.  This will free your mind and
  • Use the 2-minute rule: if something takes less than 2 minutes, do it straight away. These less time-consuming tasks, such as making appointments, can be done so quickly but occupy a lot of space in our minds.

These techniques are available to everyone and don’t have to be followed with strict instruction. Use, adapt, and mould them to your life and your business to grow and expand your business in a way that suits you. We are all individuals with unique lives and needs, so prioritise what is important to you and be proud of yourself for taking this step!