In July 2015, I was a guest on the Four Grainer: Inside the Jewelry Trade Radio Show, with host Rod Worley. You can listen to the recording of that episode here.
Rod puts together a good radio show loaded with several questions that always interest the listeners. At the end of every show, he always asks the guest if there was a question that should have been asked, but wasn't. However you won't hear that question in my interview, because I had a little bit of fun and turned the question back on him.
You see, I knew Rod has been reading these Daily Golden Nuggets of mine for quite some time, and I wanted to give him the opportunity to ask me a question of his own that I could answer in a future Golden Nugget. Well that future date is finally here and I'll try to give the best answer I can.
Here's what Rod asked me:
"Time: How much time does it take for the average jeweler to spend on all this stuff? How much should they spend on their website, social, and marketing? Where are they supposed to find the time? What's the target goal for the time to do everything?"
Subjectivity of Time
The typical questions I receive usually have to do with SEO or specific business issues that I can easily say do this and that and you'll be good, but this question is a tough one, because I feel the answer is very subjective.
I've tried to formulate an answer to this question several times in the last 30 days since Rod asked me, but I actually struggled with how to put time management ideas into words. While we all live through the same 10,080 minutes every week, there are some people out there that seem to be able to squeeze more time from their weeks.
I realized I was making this too difficult on myself. After all, I spend time on my website, social media, marketing, and managing aspects of my own business every day. In fact, when I meet people at trade shows the often ask me how I find the time for everything.
Writing these Daily Golden Nuggets is a huge time commitment for me. I continually have to improve my own time management in order to keep writing these every day. To answer Rod's question I decided to dive into my own time management techniques, much like I wrote my series titled "What I've Learned About Blogging from Writing More Than 1,000 Posts" that you can read here.
Every week, I'm faced with different tasks that need top priority. Years ago, I was a big procrastinator and would wait until the last few days before a project was due before I would even start thinking about it. I eventually learned that I have to plan way ahead and choose a due date for every project, then work backwards to determine how much time needs to be allocated to it every week until it's completed.
My priorities are always associated with a specific task, or a long term goal. I like to set goals for myself then figure out how much time I need to spend every day until I eventually achieve that goal. It doesn't matter how big the goal is; I can chip away at it a little bit at a time every day, or every few days until it's completed.
Break your largest goals into the smallest possible tasks and complete them one at a time. If I asked you "how would you wash all the windows on all the skyscrapers in New York City", I'd want your answer to be "one window at a time."
Best Time of Day
Every task requires a different skill set. Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking, sometimes it's an overly physical task, and sometimes it's a trade task, like working at the repair bench. There are different times of the day that are better for accomplishing these tasks than other times of the day. Figuring out when to do what is up to you.
I used to be a night owl. I felt I always got my best programming and analysis work done from 9PM to 3AM. Years and years ago, I would struggle through the night with a pot of coffee, my cat, and the occasional mouse that would run through the office to keep me company during those late nights. There are very few distractions during those hours other than those you create yourself.
The problem with that time of night is that I was always fatigued. Eventually my body clock adjusted to being awake that late, but my daily routine during normal business hours always seemed sluggish. At the time I was trying to maintain healthy eating habits and working out during the day, but I still felt sluggish.
In my efforts to maintain my own health, I came across a research study sometime 2007 that explained how the human body was not designed to work overnight. I remember it explained how our circadian rhythm needs to match the sun cycle in order for us to maintain optimal health. The study was written after following the health of 3rd shift workers compared to 1st shift worked over a period of years.
Well, by the time I read that study (I wish I remember where I read it to give you a link), I had been pushing myself hard for several years and felt I was about ready to burn out. So I turned my schedule upside down. By 2008, I got myself on an early morning schedule, trying to get up every day by 5AM and start my work day by 5:30AM.
What I discovered was that my clarity of thought and creativeness is far superior from 6AM - 9AM than the 5 or 6 hours of work I was trying to accomplish at night. Since then, I've read plenty of other articles about people who get up early and work out or do other tasks that get them fired up for their day. Maybe I'll try working out in the morning at some point, but right now that clarity of thought is most valuable for me if I apply it to writing, programming, or data analysis.
I was recently introduced to Hal Elrod and his book The Miracle Morning. This is the book to read if you want to motivate yourself into a morning person. You can also listen to Hal's interview on the Profit First Podcast here.
For me, the best time of day to accomplish my most pressing tasks is when I first wake up in the morning, before the telephone, email, and other interruptions start. My difficult tasks require a lot of clarity of thought, but your most difficult tasks might be more physical or trade craft related. When it comes time for you to get difficult work completed, you will have to figure out for yourself when you have the best frame of mind and fewest interruptions. Those are the hours when your profitability will rise.
From a time management point of view, I traded 5 to 6 hours of sleepy work in the late nights for 3 hours of pure brilliance in the morning. (Yeah, I often wake up and try to psych myself by saying "You will be brilliant this morning.") In doing so, I managed to reclaim at least 10 hours of time every week.
Let me repeat that because it was an important point: I figured out when I was wasting the most amount of time and with one simple correction, I was able to add 10 hours of free time back into my schedule. I believe everyone reading this could do the exact same thing. But first you must identify your most time consuming task.
Speaking of time consuming, I don't want to eat up all your time right now, so I'll pick up on this topic tomorrow with how to deal with time consuming tasks.