The great management theorist Peter Drucker once said: “Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”
It’s critical for entrepreneurs to organize their days to make sure they’re doing the right things at the right time. That takes discipline—but the payoff will be less stress and a better managed, more successful company.
“As an entrepreneur, time is the one element you can’t buy or borrow,” BDC Business Consultant, Rony Israel says. “It’s a resource you have to manage very carefully.”
Israel, who was a successful entrepreneur for many years, offered some tips on how business owners can more effectively organize their days.
Plan your days ahead
Before leaving the office in the evening, take the time to create a detailed to-do list for the next day. You should assign blocks of time for working on specific tasks and activities on your list. The next morning, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
Expect the unexpected
You know they’re coming: Those unforeseen events that eat up your time. Israel recommends reserving one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon for putting out fires. But to make it work, you have to resist the temptation to drop everything to deal with emergencies and wait until the time you’ve set aside to attack them.
Block out time for strategy
At the beginning of the year, you should reserve time in your calendar for weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual planning sessions.
Friday afternoon is a good time to look at what you’ve accomplished during the week and look ahead to next week’s activities.
Monthly and quarterly sessions are for digging progressively deeper into the company’s finances looking to understand the reasons for variances from budget and planning how to adjust. You should also be reviewing operations, product development, customer feedback, employee performance and competitor activities.
Semi-annual sessions are for updating the strategic plan and once a year it’s budget time.
“It’s important to block those times off,” Israel says. “Because if you don’t, when the time comes for that activity, there will be an emergency and you will postpone it and procrastinate.”
Get tough with distractions
Email and the telephone are a constant source of distraction and temptation. Checking your inbox or calling an associate are often procrastination disguised as work. These activities break your concentration, interfering with the important work you have to do. Israel recommends you reserve 10 to 15 minutes an hour for email and phone calls.
Profit from lunch time
Many entrepreneurs, especially those with an introverted nature, prefer to eat their lunch at their desk or slip away for a solitary bite. Israel says that’s a mistake. Lunch is a time when you can learn and deepen relationships with people who are important to your business. Israel says entrepreneurs should make the effort to break bread each day with a varying cast of people including employees, customers, suppliers, competitors and potential partners.
The bottom line is that to be successful, entrepreneurs have to become good managers and that starts with managing one’s self.
“The business becomes successful when you transform yourself into a professional manager,” Israel says. “And that means you have to change your attitude and focus on what you need to do, not what you like to do.”