This is final part of my 3-part series on Time Management. I realize it's a bit ironic that I've written Daily Golden Nuggets on Time Management and it's taking forever to read through them.
In the first two installments, I explained my methods of how I prioritize time, how I figured out the best time of day for me to work, how I deal with time consuming tasks, the time suck of social media, and how delegating tasks saves me time.
This 3-part series builds upon itself, so please go back and read part 1 here and part 2 here before continuing with this one.
I'm picking up with...
Be Truthful About Time
My mother makes to-do lists of what she wants to accomplish every weekend. When I still lived at home, she often tells me she never made a dent in her to-do list. I never quite understood why until I got older and took on more responsibilities. Now when she complained about not accomplishing her to-do list, I simply tell her that the list is too long for the weekend.
As a business owner, you need to learn the real amount of time it takes for you to do something--you, as in you personally, not one of your employees. As the business owner, it will always take you longer to complete any single task because you are always interrupted. Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes, like talking to customers, making business decisions, paying bills, planning for the future, and coming up with new marketing ideas.
The entrepreneurial mind never shuts off and it's common for us to think of an idea late at night and tuck it away in the deep recesses of our mind until later. Well, often times that "later" comes at unexpected times during the day, forcing those entrepreneurs to stop what they are doing and take notes or implement the idea. That's also an interruption that eats away at time.
Your employees don't have the luxury of allowed distraction. You hire them for a job that they have to do, and for that reason, they will often complete work faster than you can with all your interruptions.
As you make up your to-do list every week, don't be overly ambitious with what you try to accomplish. If you struggle with how big to make the list, then just remove one task at a time every week until you finally reach the level you can complete. It might sound simple, but you are probably stressing yourself out because you can't complete all your work in a given week.
Lower your stress by lowering your weekly to-do list. Delegate the tasks that you don't have time for yet still need to get completed every week. Within a few weeks, you should see how to best organize your weekly tasks and correctly set new deadlines for yourself. Once you reach this point, you then need to protect yourself from unnecessary interruptions.
Protecting Your Time
Have you ever felt like you were "totally in the groove" while working on something and continued until you were done? I know a lot of people use that "in the groove" expression, including myself. For me, I recognize it as a mental moment when I am completely engrossed in the task at hand and small distractions are easy to stave off. Distractions like those random ideas that I tucked away, or the sudden urge to check social media and emails.
However, there are larger distractions that will attempt to interrupt you, like phone calls, customers who want to talk to you, and employees who need your help. Sometimes these distractions are unavoidable, but if you are in the "groove" then you should simply tell those callers, customers, and employees that you are simply not available at that moment.
Your time is valuable, and people who ask you for your time are eating away as at your most valuable resource. Every time someone interrupts you, you should ask yourself if it's more valuable to give up your time right then and there, have them wait until later, or better yet, deny their request. Your goals won't always be furthered if you keep giving people your time.
Some of you might believe that you are capable of multitasking. It might seem like a good idea to work on several things at once; after all, you can monitor social media on your phone, check emails every few minutes, work on a CAD program, and answer the telephones the same time, but by the end of the day, you'll wonder why nothing got done. I have found that I need to minimize the multitasking when I have a task that needs to be completed. All distractions are avoided until that top priority task is completed.
Other than your own time, all of your employees might also be burdened with interruption time issues. One overall solution for this would be to change your store hours, but not your employee hours. In other words, still have everyone come to work at the usual 9AM start time, but wait until Noon before you open. This gives everyone a chance to catch up on work.
Valuation of Your Time
Another common trap that entrepreneurs fall into is the belief that they must accept every job offer given to them. This usually leads to a hamster wheel of never getting any projects completed. To combat this, you need to learn to admit that you don't have the time to do everything.
You don't have to take on every customer request, every special order, or every custom design. You should keep track of your personal work schedule and all your current commitments, and learn how to budget new commitments into the time you have left every day, week, month, and even this year. Give honest answers when someone asks you if you can work on something for them.
Sometimes you can delegate a new job to an employee, but you should also evaluate the ROI of every job before you accept it. One clear example, I remember observing once, was a customer who asked a jeweler to find a special chain to perfectly match another piece of jewelry they had. The jeweler didn't carry the chain, nor did they know where to source the chain from, yet they took on the job and told the customer they would have an answer for them within 24 hours.
After the customer left, that jeweler proceeded to look through every printed catalog they had pouring over all the product photos to find the right chain. It took more than those 24 hours, with additional phone calls and online catalog searches to finally find a manufacturer that made the requested chain.
While this might sound like good customer service, from a business point of view this was a disaster. As the business owner, your need to evaluate the amount of time it will take you to track down a special order item that will have a small ROI and compare it to the ROI of other current projects you are working on. Will the smaller ROI task prevent you from completing the larger ROI task on time? If so, then say no to the smaller task because it will hurt your business, your profitability, and the reputation you have with your customers.
I'm referring to the reputation you have with your bigger paying customers whose work will be delayed because you are spending time on a smaller, lower ROI job. On the other hand you could take on these lower ROI jobs as long as your employees can handle them without you.
There will always be the exception to this situation, especially when one of your largest lifetime value customers comes in to ask for that annoying special order. You certainly don't want to say no to them because it might harm a future large sale.
Mental Detoxing and Down Time
You don't have to be directly involved with every aspect of your business. Doing so will eat up a lot of time every week. Employees have it easy because they just measure their job as fixed hours of work every week, after which they can relax.
As a business owner you need to learn to schedule your own down time. It's easy to get caught in the trap of working every waking moment, but that's not healthy for your body, your mind, your productivity, and especially your family.
Although my doctor recommends 8 hours of sleep every night, I know that I function best when I have 6.5 or 7 hours at most. I always feel extra sluggish on days when I have 8 hours of sleep; in fact, those are the days when I usually also need a nap in the afternoon. I only learned about my sleeping patterns when I started wearing the Jawbone UP in April 2013. I certainly agree with their current slogan: "There's a better version of you out there. Get UP and find it."
There are plenty of days when I still work until after 8PM, but I've learned that it's more beneficial for my long-term success if I step away from my office and take time to enjoy my most precious resource. As a business owner, my mind will still wander back to new business ideas that I'll continue to mentally tuck away until tomorrow.
Sorting Out All the Time
I've taken a considerable amount of time to explain how I manage time. I certainly hope it wasn't a waste of your time reading it. Although, as I look back at Rod Worley's original question, I realize that I haven't fully answered it yet. Here it is again:
"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?"
That's actually 4 questions in one, of which I feel the 3rd is the most important. So important that I dedicated the last three days to explaining how I have found the extra time in my own life. Hopefully, you can use it as a blueprint for your own.
As for the rest...
How much time should you spend on social media? Only as much as you need to do in order to maintain a continual content calendar and reply to customers. If you are a solo shop, then plan on one afternoon every week to create and schedule the social posts for the following 7 days. Don't waste your work day reading your personal social media accounts, save those distractions for after hours.
How much time should you spend on your website? Only as much as you need to do in order to keep it updated with your latest products and events. If the website is a continue bottleneck of time then you need to either take some classes to learn how to use it, or you need to change to an easier to use software platform.
How much time should you spend on marketing? Initially it takes a lot of tracking and research to figure out how to target the right customers for your store, and where to target them. That information will help you make an informed decision on the types of marketing you should try. When it comes to creating the actual marketing material, unless you have a degree in marketing it's always better to have a marketing person do that for you. In reality, you shouldn't be spending much time on marketing because you should be paying a professional to do it for you.
Finally, what's the target goal for doing everything? It's probably unrealistic for me to tell a business owner to limit their work day to 8 hours, but strive for a 10 hour work day at most. Remember your entrepreneurial mind won't ever turn off and that time away from the real work environment will help your subconscious mind work through other issues and ideas.
If you considered this series about time management too long to read, well, then you've obviously got time management issues. If you didn't set aside the time to read this, well then don't come crying to me when your business hits a brick wall of non-profitability. The more successful you want to be, the more you have to learn to lead and delegate out your work rather than doing it all yourself.
I never thought of documenting my own time management thoughts, but there they are.
Do you have a question for me? Send it in; I'm always up for a challenge!