How to Effectively Use Your Greatest Resource
Solve this riddle:
It's our most valuable commodity
Here the playing field is the same,
Day by day we lose more and more
But if we invest in it, we gain.
If you know what it is, it's true. This is the most valuable commodity we’re given, more than money, more than popularity, even more than personality. If you know how to use this one resource, and use it wisely, you’ll be the most successful person in the room.
Damon Brown, entrepreneur and author, said it best:
“Remember that money can come as quickly as it goes, but time, once it is gone, never comes back.”
TIME is the answer. The time that you have is the most important and the most effective tool you can use to your advantage. If you can maximize your efforts in a shorter amount of time, success WILL come to you. That's a fact.
One of the best things (and worst things) about being an entrepreneur is the freedom. Obviously, we all want freedom from “the man” or to be able to do anything we want with our time, but it can be a stumbling block for those of us who lack focus, or clarity, or consistency.
During my first 9 months of business, I found that my greatest weakness was getting distracted, (or being a victim of Shiny Object Syndrome as some call it).
I would start a project with gusto and excitement, but then when it would get challenging or boring I would move on and start something else.
Despite your weaknesses when it comes to time management, you can gain control of how you use your time so you can be more effective and productive. Here are a few ways you can overcome that can lead to big payoffs.
1. YOU NEED A PLAN
The truth of the matter is that you need to know what you’re working towards. This sounds SO simplistic, but hear me out.
When you say you’re working, what’s your goal? When you’re on Facebook, why ARE you on Facebook? To socialize? Find clients? Find answers to questions?
Figuring out what your goals are will help you know what you're working towards. If you get on Facebook to specifically make relationships so you can collaborate, then you won't waste as much time.
The sooner you can set some goals for yourself, the sooner you can accomplish those things.
For me, this month of June, I knew I had some major things to work on for my business. So I carved out the time for myself to rebrand, to get my contracts done by a lawyer, rewrite all the copy on my site, update my portfolio and work on some lead-generating PDFs.
And I’ve accomplished all but one because I had a plan, I made the time, I DID NOT do the things that would distract me (mostly social media) and I took action and I focused.
When you set goals for yourself, pass your goals through the test to see if they are S.M.A.R.T goals.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time-based
TO DO: Write out some S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself. Write out a plan. It could be on a sheet of paper or in a Word document. Get those things onto paper so you have something to work towards.
I have over-arching goals as well as small, weekly goals. Try to have a healthy mix of both, but know it's SO important that you break down your big goals into daily to-dos.
2. FOCUS AND FINISH
Setting the goals can be the easy part, the hard part now is to focus your energy on those goals and complete the tasks.
Keep your goals in view. Write them on little post-its and put them on your lap-top, pin them to your bulletin board, whatever you need to do to keep those important goals at top of mind so you can get them done.
This is helpful not only for goals but for your WHY.
I know this phrase gets tossed around a lot but it’s important you know the reason WHY you’re doing all this. That way, when the going gets tough you can encourage yourself and know that this will only last for a season. Work now, Netflix later.
Keep your bigger purpose at the forefront of you mind as well.
Is your bigger purpose to spend more time with your kids? Not work on weekends so you can be with your family? Make more money so you can go on that trip? Whatever it is, know the WHY behind it all. This will also help tremendously to keep you grounded and focused.
Take a look at this post for more about finding your why.
TO DO: Whenever you've accomplished something, check it off your to-do list. Reward yourself in some small way so you know that you're getting there. And write down your why. Why you're doing all this, what the bigger picture is and how you want your life to look.
3. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
It’s important to know what you’re great at, and what you suck at.
If you cannot for the life of you design but are determined to DIY your own website. maybe you should hire it out and save yourself the hair-pulling and sleepless nights trying to get your website to look the way you want it to.
Of if you are great with customers but are bad with money, maybe you can invest in a money management course.
Do you get what I’m saying?
Find out where you’re wasting your time and where you’re accomplishing the most. Consider hiring out for the things you dread or things that take you 10x longer to do and focus on what you're awesome at or what comes naturally to you.
This is where so many of us waste the most amount of time.
If we KNOW that we need a great website but you just will not invest in a web designer, chances are you’ll spend so much more time than you ever planned on and it will cost you money in the long run.
One way to find out where you're wasting time is to time-track your day. While this sounds incredibly boring and awful it can really be eye-opening to show you where you're spending a lot of your time.
Once you know where your time is going you can make the decision to do with the time what you want, but knowledge is power. And knowing where you're time is going is essential to moving forward.
TO DO: Write down all the tasks you do and separate those things into 2 columns. The first column: "I ROCK at this", second column: "I need HELP!" Take a look at the list you need help with and make a plan for how you're going to get help. Maybe it's an accountability partner, maybe it's hiring a business coach, or getting a designer. The key is to know where're struggling and make an effort to get it fixed.
So, to recap, make a plan, focus and complete each task, and know your strengths and weaknesses so you can make S.M.A.R.T. goals and decisions about how you're spending your time.
I would love to hear how your manage your time:
What's a time-management hack that's been helpful for you?