Working out how to spend your time most efficiently is one of the most common dilemmas we come across in everyday life. This also includes our business, where, in every sense of the word, time means money.
For example, I am currently running 4 companies, including We Connect Construction and Design and Build UK, while raising 2 children, one of which is a baby. On top of this my partner lives down south while I live in the north, this means a lot of commuting, having to handle these responsibilities while also recently launching a podcast, plus attending events, public speaking, doing radio interviews… Then trying to have some kind of time to myself!
This can be incredibly hard to manage and balance at times, as it usually means that I have to use an order of priority to stay organised. However, having to rank my priorities in life by importance can be gruelling. We are all guilty at some point of getting caught up in the day to day workings of our life, without considering the bigger picture surrounding us and what is going to get us to our end goal.
What I do to ensure I am making the right decisions
Finding a balance between my personal life and business is imperative to make my life as easy as it can be. I know the importance of my family and my children’s upbringing so they will always be on the top of my priority list, however, sometimes sacrifices do need to be made to keep my business running smoothly. Such as having to miss a parent evening to attend an important meeting.
Our heart tells us to do one thing, but our head tells us to do another, it may seem heartless at times but sometimes you have to rationally choose what would be most beneficial in the long term. So, I find it useful to note the pros and cons of each decision that could be made and value each decision based on which outweighs which.
Our optimistic minds tell us that we can manage more than we actually can sometimes, its best to sort such thoughts out for the week to stop reality catching upon us. For example, let’s explore my week and try and think about it realistically. This week I have:
- 2 podcasts
- 25 sales demos
- 1 investment meeting
- 2 board meeting
- 1 parents evening
- Travelling to London for the weekend
- 7 social media contents to write up
- My son’s birthday
- An open day at a nursery
- 1 sales meeting
- 1 company development meeting
- 1 marketing meeting
- 4 interviews
- 2 articles to write
- A public speaking event
- The daily running of 2 companies
Realistically, this is too much for one woman to achieve in a week, although I will still try to squeeze in as much as I possibly can. In reality, some of these are going to have to get moved.
To help with this, I use an exercise called The Eisenhower Decision Matrix:
This is a technique that was invented by the previous US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to help him organise his everyday life which would have been incredibly busy. The principle of this technique is to organise your life by priority using two variables, importance and urgency. If something is both important and urgent, you should do this first. However, if something is neither important nor urgent, it may be worth not even doing the task at all or at least shortly.
Say, for example, I could have a budgeting meeting that is imperative to smooth running of my company that needs to be done tomorrow, but I also have a sales meeting that would overlap. This sales meeting, however, is not as important. It may be worth rescheduling the sales meeting to a later date. This matrix would help you work such decisions out by visualising the problems at hand. This exercise helps me remain organised and make sure I remain on track for my end goal.
As much as such a matrix is useful, it’s important to still not overload yourself with tasks even if it looks manageable at first. It’s recommended that you limit yourself to 8 tasks per quadrant, these tasks would consist of both business and private tasks, separating the lists may trick you into thinking you have less planned than you do. As this is a time management strategy, it’s important that you do not procrastinate once everything has been planned. This would only further complicate your day making it unlikely that you will be able to complete everything you have planned to do. The urgent yet less important tasks may be worth delegating to a colleague while you take care of the more important urgent tasks.
It’s important to understand the difference between urgent and important. Urgent for me is something where there are deadlines, it can’t be done any other time, only I can do this, it is going to ensure I hit weekly sales targets etc. Important would be something which I have a choice about, something I love doing, something that will get me to my end goal so is important to complete but I won’t see the result of this straight away. Anything urgent and important is getting done that week, no doubt about it. Things which are not urgent but are important may be put off until a quieter week. Things which are not important but urgent such as meetings or things which just crop up, I will try to delegate. Things which are none important and none urgent will get dropped for the foreseeable future.
Of course, there are plenty of more variables that should be considered when managing your time, such as personal priority, the complexity of the task, the date of the deadline, and whether such a task requires help from other people. It may also be worth checking the status of the task at hand, for example you may find a task has only popped up the last day or so, a task may be already delegated, the task may have initially been assigned to someone, you may have already started working on it or maybe even completed. It is also possible that the task may no longer be required. Communication with colleagues or family is essential to make sure that either everything delegated is on track or that people understand your plans for the week.
Being able to maximise your productivity will guarantee growth within your business but it’s important to take some time for yourself and your family to guarantee a healthy and happy personal and social life.
I believe that this balance can be improved by increasing the efficiency with which my businesses operate. We have, for example, always found the process for finding project leads in the construction industry to be time consuming and quite often fruitless, with many wasted hours spent searching for projects to only then find that you don’t have the extra details you need to make contact with the correct person or companies involved. This is precious time that I could have spent with my family and/or friends or on various business processes that would further enhance my companies and the construction world. As such, I went to great lengths to provide a website called We Connect Construction, which is specifically designed to make this process faster and more efficient by providing thousands of detailed leads throughout the North West on an easy to use, easy to search website, allowing you to reach those important goals ahead of time.
Thank you for reading my viewpoint on how to manage your time most efficiently, priority is truly personal but with a rationale it’s possible to balance your time in a healthy manner where you get enough of your work done but you also give a healthy amount of time for your friends and family.