Let’s talk about how to make time each week in your business so that you can get more done and feel good about it.

Much like the money equation, time can be saved, but only to a certain point.

There are efficiencies that can be gained, but I want to propose that making more time is about something different.

This episode is as much a self reflection as an informational episode because I have battled with the idea of being productive and feeling like I’m achieving things and procrastinating as much as the next person.

And I finally think I have it solved.

The Time Creation Equation

A lot of entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to think they don’t have enough time in their business or that they’re not productive enough. 

That feeling you have is really just a function of two things:

  1. Firstly, your own expectations about what you can achieve, and 
  2. How much time you spend on focused, productive work.

That’s really all it is.

By being totally realistic in your expectations for what you can create and by finding out how to work in a focused and productive way you can create the time you need in your business to get done what you need to get done. 

So let’s talk about how to do that.

Your Expectations

Starting with your expectations, it’s important that you are very real and honest with yourself about how much time you actually have. 

Let’s say that you are working in your business part time and you have 15 hours available during the week.

The temptation is to think you can cram a whole bunch of things into those 15 hours.

Or maybe you expect yourself to be able to complete new or complex tasks in that time.

But there is another layer on top of that, that you need to consider.

For all of those hours that you have available you are going to have some downtime.

You aren’t always going to be feeling energized and clear-headed and decisive. 

Sometimes you’re going to be feeling distracted. 

Sometimes you’re going to be feeling flustered or confused. 

And often, you are going to be switching from one task to another. 

All of those things cost a percentage of the total working time you have available.

When you get very clear and specific about what is realistically possible to achieve each day or each week or each month, then you can cut yourself some slack. 

You’ll be totally clear on where you can spend time and you have enough room to allow the downtime or transition time that will invariably be required.

Here’s a six-step process to help you get started.

Step 1 – work out the total number of hours you have available at work each week. Only count blocks of time that are at least 45 minutes long; preferably whole days.

Step 2 – multiply the total number of hours by 80% – this is your new, realistic total hours that allow for time lost in transitions or distractions.

Step 3 – identify one major project that you will complete this week, and break it down into single, specific tasks.

Step 4 – schedule the tasks into time slots in your calendar. Put more creative tasks into spaces you will likely have more energy, and detailed or analytical tasks into spaces where you might likely be more focused. 

Step 5 – If there are any tasks that you have never done before, make some decisions in advance about how long you will try before you ask for help, or, when and who you will ask for help. For example, if you’ve never used Instagram before, you might decide to spend 2 hours trying to learn how to use it and depending on how that goes, you might schedule more learning time, get on with using it, or decide to outsource it.

Step 6 – record how you spend every 30 minute block of your working time in a work diary. This is SO important because you can only learn what works or doesn’t if you can see what you are doing right now.

Being productive requires discipline and honesty – it means saying no to yourself when things feel hard, or saying yes to yourself when you really do need a break or to revise your plan.

Being Focused and Productive

If you get the first bit right, and have clear, specific, scheduled tasks, then you should feel more focused and productive by default.

You’ll feel more focused because you know exactly what you’re doing and when. That removes any need to make decisions when you’re in the thick of work mode and your brain will love you for that. No more decision fatigue. 

You’ll also feel more focused because you have allowed for downtime, rather than cramming your calendar full of back-to-back things. Once again, your brain will love you because you’ve allowed time for it to switch from one mode to the next.

Aside from that there is one other skill you’ll need to use to be focused and productive. 

That is the skill of resisting urges

You will find that when things get difficult or confusing or if you’re feeling a little tired you will get the urge to procrastinate, do busy work that doesn’t really achieve anything or take multiple breaks in an attempt to get your motivation back. 

Sorry, but none of this will work. 

Being productive requires discipline and honesty – it means saying no to yourself when things feel hard, or saying yes to yourself when you really do need a break or to revise your plan.

Here’s what you can do instead. If you’re feeling tired it may be just the day or it might mean that you’re still expecting too much of yourself. 

Reflect on what’s really going on for you – whether you need a break right now or to re-work your scheduling in future.

If you give into the urge to procrastinate, it usually means that you don’t know what to do or are confused about something or that something is difficult, so you lack confidence in yourself or what you’re doing. 

All this means is that you need to get help or to accept and commit to some training which might set you back a little from your goal – which is totally ok.

If you start doing busy work it usually means that you’re avoiding something. Just like when you’re procrastinating, you might feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or perhaps the end might seem too big or too far away – or you’re frustrated at your lack of results – so you might just need to get some sense of achievement.

What I recommend you do in this case is to have some really clearly defined outcomes for each block of time that is a stepping stone to the bigger result that you seek to get. 

Let’s say that you’re frustrated by a lack of results generally in your business. 

What you can focus on instead is a result that you could create within an hour (the Pomodoro technique). 

Let’s say that might be developing an ad campaign, or writing the first two pages of an ebook. 

It’s not the final result, but it is a specific result that you can achieve, and, it will take you toward the bigger goal. Your brain will feel a sense of achievement around that. 

Or let’s say that you’re in that ‘I don’t know what to do’ mode or you’re lacking self confidence, and so you’re procrastinating or being busy.

What you could do instead is to make an appointment with someone who can help you – to write the email or make the call that will set the wheels in motion. 

Then you can move on to another task in your list. If you do this, then you have the benefit of finishing and other tasks ahead of time and feeling good about that achievement.

All of these strategies are designed to help you keep taking action so you can maintain momentum and feel good about what you’re doing even if things do get challenging or  frustrating or confusing.

 

Ready to make time in your business?

Do you need support to build realistic expectations and find your business truth? If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

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