Before you go leaping into action and working towards an end goal for your business (don’t get us wrong, ActionCOACH loves that kind of enthusiasm!) you will need to plan your time effectively. Without a plan, you won’t know how you’re tracking week to week and you won’t be as productive as you could be.
And we all want to work smarter, not harder, right?
How to plan your time
Whilst every time management plan is unique to you and your circumstances, the same principles apply for planning your time and getting organised and productive.
The process you follow each week should be the same. Sit down at the end of every week (a Friday or Sunday night), work out what needs to be accomplished for the following week and make sure you have appropriate time allocated to accomplish it all. This way, you’ll arrive to work on Monday morning, hit the ground running and maximise the value of your Reticular Activating System (RAS). Your subconscious mind is already processing it and getting it to work for you.
Principles to follow:
- Look at your 90-day plan as a starting point – it will tell you much of what needs to be completed next week.
- Not only book in specific times for meetings, but set aside specific times to do activities that will develop your business.
- When setting aside time for work requiring focus and attention, make it a maximum of 2 hours. You’re unlikely to be able to work at your peak for longer than that.
- For more complicated tasks that require concentration, make time earlier in the day. You’ll have more mental energy because you’ll be fresher. You’ll also be “eating the frog” (an excellent tactic you can learn all about in our free eBook)
- When setting out your calendar for the week ahead, be sure to take into account your personal commitments, not just work tasks. E.g. Lunch with your spouse, a game of squash, kids sports activities, etc.
- Be sure to include “buffer times”. After you’ve scheduled your meetings, set aside some extra time. The reality is meetings sometimes run longer than expected, you’ll still get emails and phone calls, there’ll be issues to fix, things to change and address, and unexpected problems that come along. Plan for these as well so you’re not stressed and pushed for time.
- Once everything has been scheduled in, your calendar for the week should be full.
Categorising your tasks
Tasks and events that get added to your calendar can be categorised as either urgent or important. Sometimes they are both and sometimes neither.
There are often driving factors that determine when you do something. If a task is deemed urgent, it needs to be done soon. Are you doing it because it has immediate requirements? Is a client chasing it? Have you procrastinated too long and now it’s urgent?
On the other hand, for a task to be considered important, it must be something that will have a meaningful impact on the long-term value of your business. Designing a new sales process, marketing campaign, training a staff member – these only need to be done once but they are very valuable. These are the sorts of things that build good business’ and are considered “important”.
When you look at your plan for the week ahead, ask yourself how much of this is important but not urgent? How much of your week are you spending working on your business doing those things that are genuinely building it into a great business?
The best practice ratio is to spend 60% of your working week on important but not urgent work, which is exactly what should be in your plan every week. If anything less than 20% of your week is spent on building the business then you have to ask yourself some serious questions.
When reviewing your plan for the week ahead, also ask yourself two other vital questions:
- How much time am I spending doing work that I actually pay someone else for?
- How much time am I spending doing work that I could pay someone else $50 an hour for? If you value your time at less than that, you’re not doing the work of a true business owner. Consider how much time a particular task will take and whether you need to do it.
To learn more about how to manage your time effectively and build the best business you can, download our free eBook – The Real Guide to Productive & Effective Time Management.