It is not just students who are poor at planning time. Most adults are pretty bad at it too. If you are working for yourself then time management skills are something you will have to develop.
Not All Time Is Created Equal
We all have certain times of the day when we are most efficient. You only have 24 hours in the day to use on your business, and with sleep and other essentials and a bit of relaxation time that comes down to 10-12 hours a day for most people.
You have to use every one of those 12 hours of time you get every day. You have to understand your body and know when you are at your most creative and set that time aside for planning tasks and big-picture jobs. You need to make sure that your best times are uninterrupted by phone calls, emails and chores. Your business needs your best time more than the garden, household chores or shopping do.
You have to take control of your time.
Flexi-time is one of the advantages of working for yourself after all and you have the opportunity to synch your body clock and your working time. If you are at your most creative late at night then take your sleep time from 2 – 10am; you are your own boss and you can do whatever works for you. If your best time is when you are fresh, early in the morning then start “work” early.
I am an early-bird myself and get up at 4am most days. I get a lot of planning done while the house is quiet; I keep the mundane business tasks for later in the day when I expect to be interrupted constantly.
How Often Do You Look at the Big Picture?
I never used to understand the phrase, “He can’t see the wood for the trees.” But I do now.
Every day I get caught up in the day to day jobs (the trees) and never have enough time to look at my business as a whole (the wood). Everyone I know has the same problem. Strategic planning means taking time out from the day-to-day business tasks that take up your time on most days.
The only way to build in strategic business planning time is to get ahead on the small jobs and set aside a half or a full day to look at the long-term health and direction of your business.
You Have to Employ People
When I started out trying to earn a living online I was a one man band. I did everything myself for 2 years. My income was limited by the number of hours in the day and how much sleep I got.
I sat down one day and realised that I was never going to earn enough money trying to do every single thing myself. I had to pay people to get some of my time back.
I could not charge the hourly rates I needed to charge, so I had to pay people to do that work, so I could take on ten times as much, begin to earn a full-time income and get some of my time back again.
Any business, whether it is a real-world plumber or an online writing business, has to grow in order to provide its founder with a decent income and quality of life.
This is the kind of long-term business planning that requires set-aside planning time. Strategic planning cannot be fitted into 30 minutes slots in your normal work days.
No Planning – No Future
Any business owner or entrepreneur who fails to set aside strategic business planning time is on a road to nowhere. You will work 12 hour days and make enough money to get by, but at the expense of your health and relationships.
After 20 years you will be worn out and alone, but still have to work 12 hour days to make ends meet.
When was the last time you took time out to look at your business and where it is going? Comments welcome below.