One of the primary issues about which my clients complain is that they never stop running their businesses. They say their day is an endless cycle of completing tasks for clients, having conversations with prospective clients, and networking to find clients. They know that they need to find some time to plan what they’re doing and where they’re going in their businesses, and the only time they manage to carve out for themselves to do this is late at night with a glass of wine in hand, on Saturday morning in the midst of a child’s soccer game, or on a Sunday afternoon at the dining room table when the kids are working on school projects. How productive can anyone be in that kind of environment?
Normally, when you think of time management, you’re told to put your tasks in 3 categories (A, B, and C) based on priority, with the As being the highest priority, and then do all the tasks the A list. Poof — time management — done! If it were only that easy..LOL
The time management system that I’m currently using is a bigger-picture system, focusing on the overall plan of how you structure your time rather than on the actual tasks, although that does come into play. In this system, you have 3 kinds of days: Rest Days, Profit-Generating Days, and Business Development Days. You can set as many (or as few of these) as you like each week, as long as the total number adds up to 7 for a full week.
I’ve purchased a large laminated wall planner for the current year and a set of colored sticker dots to graphically represent on this calendar my Rest, Profit-Generating, and Business Development Days. I’ve found that having this hanging on the wall in front of me helps tremendously in my planning, and when presented with an opportunity, helps me determine how viable it is in relation to the time I have available.
On your Rest Days, you are free to do anything at all except work-related tasks. You can meditate, veg on the couch, spend time with friends and family, go for hike, or take a vacation. The goal on your Rest Days is to revitalize and rejuvenate your spirit and not think about business, work, or money. This is the first set of days I’d like you to plan for yourself. Yep, you heard me right. Repeat after me, “Pay yourself first.” What works with money also works with time! Currently, for me, that translates into 2 Free Days per week. I then have a number of longer vacation periods kicking in and 3 and 4-day weekends. Remember, all work and no play makes Jill a cranky girl….
Next fill in your Business Development Days, which is the time when you’re working ON your business, not IN your business. The Business Development Days are the most important days for a business owner because they’re serve as your business management days, or time when you focus on finances, marketing, sales, resources, and personnel.
Let me repeat — this is the most important day of your week. You can’t grow and market your business while you’re doing the actual work of the business, so devote at least one day per week to developing and overseeing your business. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, Business Development Days are vital to your success. Your business will not be able to grow and prosper without regularly scheduled business development time. My business development day is sacred, and I guard it like the Hope Diamond. Only in extreme emergencies do I let other things interrupt my Business Development Day.
The most compelling reason that Business Development Days are vital to your existence is because without that time, you don’t have any of the third kind of day, the Profit-Generating Days.
Whatever is left of the week are Profit-Generating Days, or the time when you’re actually working in your business, doing the work of the business. These are the days that you’re working with clients, answering their problems and concerns, or conducting other activities in which you’re directly generating revenue. In some businesses this time might be called “billable hours.”
So, my current schedule is as follows:
Saturday and Sunday: Rest Days
Monday and Tuesday: Profit-Generating Days
Wednesday: Business Development Day
Thursday and Friday: Profit-Generating Days
I started this type of long-range planning several years ago, and have found it to be incredibly empowering. I guess I’d fallen into the M-F, 9-5 rut again without realizing it, and spent all that time working with clients rather than spending any time on the business development side and taking a long, hard look at what I really wanted out of my business. What was helpful to me was realizing that I’m not going to always be 100% faithful to this system, as opportunities arise that I can’t control. However, I know if I commit to being 80-90% faithful to the system, I’ll do just fine.
Start planning time for your business development today. Buy your calendar, set aside some time to map out your year, and begin to experience the power of actually being in the driver’s seat of your business.
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter