Do you often find it difficult to manage how you spend your time as a business owner? Follow the business career building tips in this article to learn how to spend your time as a business leader.
Let’s start by laying down some of the rules in business leadership.
Rules In Business Leadership
- Work on your business and not in your business.
- Categorize tasks into leadership-level and team-level.
- Only focus on doing the tasks that only you can do; the rest should be delegated.
The importance of acknowledging that you can’t do it all – even if you can – is quite important when talking about time and leadership.
Time is considered a business leader’s most important resource. Yet, it is also the scarcest.
That’s because some business leaders often focus on non-essential tasks.
In doing so, they run out of time to focus on the essential ones.
Unfortunately, once they realize it, time has already run out.
Here are tips on how to spend your time as a business leader.
How To Spend Your Time As A Business Leader
1. Be Aware Of Time Wasters
Time wasters are exactly what they are.
They either prompt you to engage in activities that are non-productive or they prompt you to do nothing at all.
Awareness is the key to spending time wisely. Here are some examples of time wasters:
If you’re putting something off for an unknown reason, or if you’re looking for reasons to not do something, then you are procrastinating.
If you are procrastinating, then you may be putting your business at risk, especially if you are delaying making a decision on a pressing matter.
Don’t Have Unnecessary Meetings
Meetings can be one of the ways to occupying your time.
But how necessary are these meetings?
Do you actually accomplish something when you meet?
Do these meetings help everyone in your company do more and accomplish more?
Most importantly, do these meetings focus on making decisions or are they simply a room for discussions?
Get Away From Indecision Leading To Inaction
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself worrying over something.
The natural response of a business leader when something is worrisome is and is a priority is that he or she deals with it.
If you do just the opposite, then you are acting against the best interest of time.
Delaying action will cause you to spend more time than necessary on the issue.
Avoid Incorrect Prioritization
The rule behind prioritization has always been simple: the most pressing tasks come first.
Generally, the most pressing tasks are those that have the biggest impact if they are not done.
If you’re prioritizing by putting off the most pressing matters, then you’re doing it incorrectly and are not making good use of your time.
Don’t Generate Careless Time Estimates
How long does a task usually take before it gets completed?
If you always tell yourself that each task needs to have a prolonged window to ensure that it is done, then you are wasting away valuable time.
So when you plan for the estimated time of completion be realistic and relatively precise.
Micromanaging Your Team is a No No
There’s a big difference between a hands-on business leader and someone who is a micromanager.
While the micromanager is busy meddling with how minuscule things should be done by his or her team (and often end up doing things him- or herself), the hands-on leader coaches while working on higher-level tasks.
So always keep in mind that micromanagement is not one of the time management skills for leaders.
Be Trusting Enough To Delegate
Here’s a fact: people accomplish the same things differently. It won’t always be done the way you want it done.
The point is if you get the same quality results, why do you even bother?
If you’re too concerned about how your team does things to the point that you no longer delegate tasks to them, then you’re spending your time working on something that you shouldn’t have your hands on.
Don’t Have Inconsistent Policies And Procedures
Have standard policies and procedures that govern how things should be done in your business.
You should have a system in place for everything in your business.
This allows for consistency.
It also prevents the need for you to spend time keep telling people how things should be done over and over again.
You can simply refer people to the policies and procedure.
Don’t Implement Without Assessing
Commonly, a problem may have multiple solutions.
But that one solution that gets implemented doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the quickest and easiest or the best.
Evaluate the possible solutions to problems before deciding which one to go for. This will save you time down the line.
A business leader knows what’s necessary and what’s unnecessary in a given time.
So if you’re engaged in tasks that require focus, you know that phone calls are not welcome.
They are a distraction. The same goes for email notifications.
You can do phone calls and respond to emails after you complete the tasks at hand.
2. Embrace The Time Savers
Time savers are tools and strategies that help you make the most out of your time on your business.
These are time management tips that you can employ in order to increase your productivity and efficiency.
Here are some of the techniques you can use to balance time and leadership:
Surprising, isn’t it? If your work desk or your office is filled with clutter, it looks like you’re being busy.
But sometimes, being busy means looking for something from one pile of paper to another – something that would’ve been avoided had everything been in order.
Managing Time Wisely
This involves minimizing the time you take in order to find something.
The same applies to your computer. It should be clutter-free.
Meaning, your folder, and files should be organized so that you know where something is saved when you need it.
Using A Calendar
Having a calendar allows you to keep track of how you’re spending your time and how long it’s taking you to do each of your tasks.
Should you want to do an audit of where your time went, you can consult your calendar.
Auditing your time is a welcome practice.
It’s like when you’re doing your monthly household budget.
You’ll know where you’ve specifically spent money the most; you’ll know which items to stop buying, and you’ll know which aspects of your finances you need to cut back on.
Setting Realistic Deadlines
When setting deadlines, you should realistically evaluate what needs to be done, taking into consideration the resources available to do this.
You can also delegate part of this process to a subordinate.
Take these into consideration when setting deadlines.
Two heads are better than one.
So early on, the spirit of teamwork should be clear to your team and ingrained into your business culture.
For business leaders, delegating is one way of managing time wisely.
This means that you should know how to delegate – to distribute the different components of a task based on your team’s available skill sets and based on their roles.
This distribution leaves you with the component that only a business person at your level can work on.
Automation is one of the ways that you can spend time wisely.
It does not only help you on a personal level but your business as a whole.
Consider going back to your existing policies and procedures.
Go through each one and then identify opportunities for automation.
An example would be requesting time-off.
Currently, many companies still follow the manual process of sending an email request and waiting for approval.
The thing is, this process may be automated in a way that the only thing you’ll ever need to do is to look at the request lineup and issue an approval.
No emails needed.
Doing One Task At A Time
Here’s one thing that effectively goes with time management tips: focus.
If you’ve already identified a task at a specific hour, block that hour so that you can only focus on that task.
Then do the same thing on the next task.
By blocking your time, you’ll be able to accomplish more.
This will equally help you to spend your time wisely as a business leader.
Creating A To-Do List
You’re probably hoping to not find this here.
After all, it’s a staple in time management tips that you come across.
However, it’s an essential part, especially if you plan to optimize your calendar.
Notable CEOs have shared that creating a to-do list is one of their daily habits.
3. How Leaders Spend Their Time
So how should you spend your time? The answer is simple: thinking.
That’s how leaders spend their time.
Thinking And Strategizing
Business leaders are the brains behind an organization’s operations, finance, talent acquisition – everything.
They’re the ones responsible for thinking about how to make things better, bigger, and greater.
Perhaps, thinking is one of the greatest time management skills for leaders.
Of course, this isn’t easy to believe. However, think of the reason you’ve decided to hire people.
Isn’t it that you want someone to help you in the business?
Didn’t you look for specific skills to fit the needs of your organization?
And what did you exactly do right before you’ve decided to hire someone? Right! You went through a mental process called ‘thinking.’
Now, don’t think that ‘thinking’ is exactly just that.
Look at what happens when thinking is used as one of the time management skills for leaders.
Meetings Will Be About Making Decisions; Not Discussions
How many meetings do you attend each week?
How many of these meetings actually finished with a decision over something?
When it comes to attending or holding a meeting, you must have thought about what you want to accomplish in it beforehand.
So what happens is that each meeting you conduct progresses until you reach a conclusion and an actionable item about something.
Emails Will Be Filtered; The Same With Phone Calls.
You know that dealing with too many emails and answering too many phone calls take away some of your brain power.
So you know that the best thing to do is to filter them.
As a result, you hire an assistant to help make that happen.
In doing so, you’ll only get emails that require your attention and that your phone calls, including conference calls, will come in at a designated time.
You’ll Be Able To Assess If Everything Fits.
Here’s the deal: All of the things that each member of your organization does should be considered a piece of a big puzzle.
This means that when everyone’s task is done, the result should benefit your organization and possibly, your suppliers, customers – the world.
This is what people mean when they say that the sum should be greater than its parts.
When you spend time reflecting on what’s going on in your organization, you may see things that you need to stop doing, a better way of doing things, or new things that need to be done instead.
You’ll Be Able To Change Your Perspective.
The million-dollar question is: what would your competitors do?
This is most useful if you feel stuck, if you’re overwhelmed with the desire to create something new, or if you’ve given your all on something and then all of a sudden, it’s not worth pursuing anymore because times have changed.
Simply asking that question allows you to assume a perspective that’s distant from your business.
You’ll become a third-party observer.
As a result, you may be able to make big decisions that will steer your company to new heights.
You’ll Be Able To Re-Evaluate Your Company’s Consistency.
The efforts of a company should be based on consistency.
That is consistency between its vision and its strategy.
So thinking about where you want to go and what you’re doing to get there, do you think that there’s consistency between the two?
As you think about consistency, play upon the question:
if you were to design your company from scratch, how would it look like?
If you notice that something is different in your architectural draft, then there must be something that you need to change in your organization.
You’ll Be Able To Establish The Reason.
Can you simply explain why you’re doing things the way you do it in your organization?
Everything? Like why you need a one-day window for monthly reports to be submitted, or why you need a monthly report in the first place?
The classic answer which is, ‘we’ve always done it this way’ is no longer valid.
Right now, people look for reason in order to establish a sense of purpose. If that reason is gone, the purpose is gone.
That’s because times change. When that happens, processes should also adapt by changing. So think about how you do things right now.
Do they make sense? Why or why not?
You’ll Be Able To Think About The Future.
Thinking has got to be one of the best ways on how to occupy your time.
Everything that you’re doing right now should be tied to what your company will look like in the future.
So think about your vision. Would you have achieved it by the time that you say you should?
The problem with some business leaders sometimes is that they’re focused on short-term goals.
Commercially, that focus may pay off.
But what about the long-term consequences of strategies designed for short-term periods?
Is your organization ready for long-term impacts?
You’ll be able to know when to take some time off.
Bill Gates embodies one of the strategies on how to spend your time as a business leader.
He takes a break twice a year to just think.
He goes to an undisclosed beach house to do nothing but to think.
Moreso, he may go for a swim from time to time but the reason he briefly disappears from his company is obvious.
Now, you might say that he can afford to do that because he is Bill Gates.
His company is worth well over a billion dollars – something that most will say is successful.
And that is true. But the success of his company didn’t materialize just because people need computers.
By the time competitors entered the market, people had options.
And those options didn’t have to be to buy a computer from Microsoft.
What made Microsoft an established company is innovation.
Such innovations are a product of a stream of ideas. Some of which Bill Gates had come up with during those bi-annual breaks.
If thinking holds such power that disrupts not only organizations but entire markets, wouldn’t you want to take advantage of such power?