Small Business Tips

How to make the most of your time

How to make the most of your time in 2017

In his inspirational book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey suggests we have reached a fourth generation of time management. Where the focus is on enhancing relationships and accomplishing results. And on managing ourselves, not time per se.

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To do this Stephen suggests listing each task you need to complete and then categorize the task into one of several categories: important and urgent, important and not urgent, urgent and not important, and not urgent and not important.

The tasks that fall into the last category you leave until last or not do at all, while the ones in the urgent and important category are the ones you should focus your efforts on completing.

Important and Urgent Tasks

We all have a number of tasks each day to complete. When you create a “to do list” for the day, take note of any projects that have a tight deadline.

If you have a customer waiting for you to complete the work on a project, this is both important and urgent. This project is urgent, because the customer is waiting for it, and it is important because the customer will pay you for your work, adding to your business profits.

Important and Not Urgent Tasks

Important and not urgent tasks are those that do not have an immediate deadline, but are still important for the successful running of the business. You could include marketing tasks in this category, as without a good marketing strategy you will quickly run out of customers. You need to spend some time each week working through the important but not immediately urgent tasks.

Urgent and Not Important Tasks

Urgent and not important tasks are tasks that have a strict deadline to meet, but do not add anything of value to your business. It is easy to get caught up in completing tasks that are urgent but not ultimately important. These tasks may be ones you can outsource to other people or not complete at all.

If the task is not important or necessary for the running of your business, think carefully about why you are completing it at all. Don’t spend your valuable time stressing about meeting deadlines that add nothing to your business in the long run.

Not Urgent or Important

The final category of work tasks is those that are not urgent and not important. These are the ‘nice to haves”, rather than the essentials and these tasks should always be completed as a low priority.

Reformatting your customer survey form to be “prettier” is one such task. If your current form is working and providing the information you need from your customers, you can only afford to spend time reformatting your form when you have nothing else of more importance to do.

You certainly do not want to complete this task when you have paying customers waiting for essential projects to be finished.

Time management is an essential component of running a successful small business. Take time to look at your tasks and categorize what tasks are really your priorities. Spending time on tasks that are not important and not urgent when you have important and urgent tasks waiting is not smart.

I’ve just re-read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and believe it’s just as relevant today as it was when it was first published.

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