Many of us started our own businesses to be independent, to have freedom to make our own choices, to escape the tyranny of a 9-to-5 job or an outrageous boss. Yet, many of us have found our businesses to be tyrants that tie us down and steal our freedom. Our businesses run us instead of the other way around. Why is this the case?
As your role in your business changes, the ratio of how you spend your time between doing and managing shifts. I have a client whose job history began as a helper, spending 100% of his time doing. After a promotion to an installer position, he spent 75% of his time doing and 25% of his time managing. He then became a supervisor, spending 50% of his time supervising employees, acquiring materials, scheduling, dealing with suppliers, etc., and 50% doing. With this experience he decided to start his own business. Unfortunately, he did not know that as an owner, the ratio between doing and managing shifts to 90% managing and 10% doing. He spent so much time doing that he didn't have enough time to get to the critical and vital task of managing. By the time he hired me, he had worked himself into exhaustion.
This picture happens to many business owners. They start in the field. They are competent doing. But, faced with the many new tasks of ownership, they gravitate to the instant and visible tasks of doing. They don't spend the time on the management side of the equation that makes their lives more successful.
They end up with 70% doing, 50% managing and 30% spinning their wheels. That equals 150%, which equals a lot of extra hours. There goes their freedom and independence.
If this describes your situation, it's time to start working on your managing and doing ratio. Begin now by developing more effective time management skills.
Start your time management overhaul by developing a picture of how you actually spend your time. Analyze how you use your time by keeping track of your time in 15 minute increments.
Take some graph paper and create a grid entitled TIME. Down the left side you will write a description of your activities. Across the top will be the hours of the day divided into 15 minute intervals. You'll need to make fourteen copies to use for the next two weeks. For each day, describe the activity you are doing in the left hand column as you do it. Check the squares for each 15 minutes you do the activity. If you do something in the morning and then go back to the activity later in the day, go back up to that line and check the square for the correct time.
At the end of each day, put the total time for each category on the right side of the page. At the end of the two weeks, total the time spent in each category and turn these into percentages.
Now analyze how you use your time. Are you doing more than managing? Do you spread projects over the whole day instead of sitting down and just getting them done? Are you spending too much time in the truck? Did you spend enough time marketing? Does your use of time reflect your personal and business goals? What activities waste your time? What choices are you making, and are those choices getting you to where you want to be?
For example, a remodeling client did his 15 minute time analysis and found that he was doing his bidding in 15 to 30 minute intervals throughout the day. Doing it this way, he spent too much time bidding and created multiple opportunities for costly errors. The 15 minute analysis gave him a good idea where to start managing his time differently. Now he creates two-hour blocks of time to work on his bidding. He is more efficient and makes fewer errors.
Another client, a cabinet maker, found that he was spending 70% of his time doing and only 30% managing. Working together over several months, he shifted to 70% managing and 30% doing. More success in his business and an increase in his sanity resulted in this change in focus from doing to managing.
Once you analyze exactly where you spend your time, think about how you should and want to allocate this precious possession, and how you can do so more effectively. This analysis and your subsequent actions can lead you to the independence and the freedom you seek.