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Time is your most valuable asset

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Time is an asset

Time is an asset!

Time is your most valuable asset. As an entrepreneur or business owner time is in many ways more valuable than money, and you should be spending your time on high value priorities that will drive your company forward.

Chances are you spend a lot of your time on lower priority tasks that could be delegated. Something that takes several hours a week out of your time just might be something that another team member could do just as well as you, if not better.

Time is something that cannot be gained back once it’s lost, so it makes perfect sense that you would delegate lower priority tasks in order to serve the greater overall vision of your organization. Lets say your goal is to get your widget into over 1,000 retail locations across the United States. One of your primary goals as a small business owner would be getting sales. This means a large chunk of your time should be spent on trying to gain new accounts, but you are currently spending a lot of time answering customer emails that come in through your website. You are better off delegating the emails to somebody on your team and getting on the phone to make sales calls.

The 80% rule that applies to delegating a task, also applies to time. 80% of your time should be spent on things that are key to the vision of your company. They other 20% should be spent on simple operational type tasks, and delegating the things that get in the way of the big picture vision of your growing business.

If you are unsure what tasks fall into the 80% category it might be time to do some strategic thinking and figure out what your companies’ top priorities are. It would also be a good idea to track your time throughout the course of a week and figure out just how much time you are spending on given tasks. Then at the end of the week calculate just how much time you spent on high priority tasks that move your vision forward.

And remember, time is your most valuable asset. Guard it with care and learn to delegate so that you are free to work ON your business rather than in it.

Keep first things first

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When pursuing any great endeavor, whether it’s starting a business, or volunteering at a local non-profit, you must remember to keep first thing first.

The first things I’m referring to are not responsibilities related to your work. First things are your family, your friends, your health, and overall sense of well being.

An absent father, mother, husband, wife, is neglecting their primary and most important duties joys in life. I can tell you from experience working 50-60 hours a week on a regular basis is NOT necessary to start a business. Sure, there is a time and a place, but as the norm; well, that should never be the norm for anybody.

Your personal health, family, and even hobbies are ultimately more important than any business you might start or job you might take with a company. If you keep first things first, everything else will just fall into place (see Parkinson’s Law).

6 productivity and time management tips

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Time is finite!

Time is finite!

You have heard somebody say it before, or you have said it yourself, “I wish there was more time in the day.” We all experience this at some point in our life. It doesn’t matter whether you desire more time in the day for personal projects, or work projects. Here are six practical ways to make you more productive and get more done in the day.

Baby steps: Realize your limitations

My first and perhaps most important time management tip is, realize you CAN’T get 10 things done in one day, much less an evening when it comes to personal projects. Come to grips with the reality that time is finite. Figure out what is a truly realistic amount of tasks that can be accomplished in a day. When it comes to projects, think in baby steps. Each day focus on a few things that help you get closer to finishing that project or task.

Utilize a project management system

I’ve recently touted the KanBan method of organization, and recently found a website that lists 10 different tools available for that system. I had only known about three of them when I started using this. But, it really doesn’t matter what system you use. Just use something that helps you stay focused and get more done.

I do recommend going beyond the typical task list. I have found that looking at a lengthy task list can just be overwhelming. It helps to at least break up your tasks in order of importance. Dave Ramsey recommends 4 quadrants; urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent and not important, and things that are not important and not urgent.

The advantage of the KanBan method is that it allows you to visualize your entire workflow, rather than staring at a long list of tasks and projects. You can visually see which things are merely a task that gets done quickly, and which things are a project that are ongoing, as well as projects and tasks that are pending; it essentially turns your laundry list of tasks into a workflow chart that is always moving forward.

Learn to say no

Time is precious. We have to learn to say no to things, especially things that fall into the Dave Ramsey quadrant 4, not urgent and not important. I’m probably most guilty of not saying no when it comes to meeting with people. My nature is to want to help everybody, but I have to remember it’s important to guard my time. So, now I make it a point to only schedule one meeting a week with people that are asking me to invest in them. I also have to be cautious about what calls I take. Too many times I’ve given in to taking a call that I know is a sales person, and 20 minutes later the sales person is still rambling and has wasted his time as well as mine. Learn to say NO, and you will free up more time for productivity.

Close your email and especially turn off notifications

Notifications are the king of distraction. And by king, I mean that annoying little kid that keeps throwing his toy on the ground and wants you to pick it up for him, all while giggling and stomping his feet.  Notifications are nothing more than a pointless distraction. My phone has zero notifications, other than calendar notifications and actual reminders related to life and work.
Turning off email notifications on your desktop email are also super important. It can be VERY easy to get distracted by a seemingly important email when you are right in the middle of working on a project that really is important. Better yet, when you are not emailing somebody, just close your email client completely. If you are able, I would even recommend only checking your email at set times throughout the day.

Delegation

This was hard for me when I first started growing my team. I was used to doing literally everything, and I wanted to continue to do everything despite my growing list of responsibilities. I always felt nobody is going to do this as well as me. This feeling is common amongst entrepreneurs and managers. But, I’ve heard it said, once you can find somebody able to do the job 80% as well as you can, it’s time to pass the torch. Some people will even go as low as 70% effectiveness.

Either way, you have to realize you are human and can only do so much. If having more time is important to you, you have to learn the art of delegation, and don’t be afraid to spend some time training a team member. The time you spend now will free up more time for you in the future. You just have to make it happen. Sure, there will be some bumps along the way, but when is running a business ever smooth sailing?

Cut the cable and kill your television

When it comes to finding more time in the day for productivity, one of the easiest things you can do is kill your television. The result is lots more free time in the evening that can be spent on being productive, as well as more quality family time and time for personal projects. Just about anything has more long-term benefit than watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad.

Literally adding more hours to the day is, unfortunately, not possible. But, you can make better use of the hours you do have. It just takes developing some time saving disciplines: realize your limitations, utilize a project management system, learn to say no, turn off notifications, delegate, and kill your television are the ones I feel are most important. Another great blog for time management skills I recommend is Time Management Ninja. There you will find loads of good content on time management – something we can all get better at.

Time is a commodity

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ClockA commodity as defined by Wikipedia is a marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Commodities are also usually found or grown in abundance, i.e. coffee beans, corn, tea leaves, almonds, cashews, salt, etc.

These items do however see shortages from time to time, or experience ridiculous spikes in demand for various reasons. When that happens the price of that item goes through the roof and becomes difficult to find. For example, in the past year Dr. Oz boasted about the amazing nutritional benefits of chia seeds. His endorsing of this super food resulted in a spike in demand; at the same time farmers were experiencing a shortage of crop due to flooding. At the time my company Bearded Brothers had been paying about $6 per pound of chia, but because of the fiasco partially caused by Dr. Oz we started paying $10 per pound of chia, and that is when we could find a supplier that could provide it. Sadly many times we were left going to retail stores paying as much as $16 per pound, just so we could produce our product that contained chia.

YOUR time is also a commodity. You actually have a lot of it. With sleep out of the equation you have about 16 hours a day. Some of us actually have more. Just like marketable commodities we can see a surge of demand for our time, which seems to result in a shortage, leaving us saying, “if only I had an extra hour in the day.”

And just like commodities you need to place a higher value one your time when you have less of it. Lets say you have a busy week ahead of you that is full of meetings. Any additional time you give away now comes at a higher cost, so it should be guarded carefully. When the schedule starts to fill, be cautious about adding more meetings or events to your calendar, otherwise you aren’t going to be left with any time to work on other important projects; resulting in you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

I often have people ask me to meet with them to share about my experience with starting Bearded Brothers. A lot of the time I’m more than willing to meet with that person or take a phone call, but only when my schedule isn’t already full. The reason for this is people met with me when we were starting and I want to help others as well. Sometimes my desire to help can get me in trouble, and this is why it’s important to view time is a commodity. Though there is a lot of it, there is a limited supply.

I would encourage you to start viewing your time as a commodity. Chances are you already do, but may not take it seriously. Don’t freely give out your time when you are already up against a wall with a big deadline. And probably more importantly make sure you are taking time for yourself. Get outside, exercise, read a book, do things to help yourself recharge! If you don’t it’s not going to matter how much time you have because you will likely run yourself into the ground and/or get sick.

Time is our means of fulfilling wants or needs; it’s precious! So, you want some more ideas on how to protect and guard your time see my recent post on time management techniques.