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7 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Time

Your time is priceless. How are you spending it to add the most value to your company and your life? Review these seven mistakes to discover ways you can become more efficient and effective as a small business leader.

Author: Jeremy Harrison

November 10, 2021

Let me guess. You’re busy. Like, really busy.

If you’re like most leaders, you probably feel the pressure to keep a lot of people happy and get a lot done both at work and at home.

I get it. It’s TOUGH to keep all those plates spinning. It’s tough to accomplish all the goals you have in different parts of your life. You get one part of your life in balance, and suddenly another starts to go out of whack.

As a husband, a dad, a business owner, and a church volunteer — in one of the most intense periods of my life — I feel it too. I want to build epic things in my business and still be a great husband and dad, while keeping all of the little things that cross my desk in order and taken care of.

Usually when things start to get jacked up in my life, I can find one or more of these things taking up too much time.

Here are 7 mistakes that we are all prone to make with our time… 

1. Multitasking 

People think they can get several things done at once. It makes you “feel” busy and productive. Neuroscience research has proven that multitasking is a myth. Your brain isn’t actually doing two things at once, it’s switching from one to the other, which is not only inefficient, it’s also exhausting. Remember, you can’t be two places at once, and neither can your brain.

Rather than trying to swing from one task to the next and back and forth again, allow yourself the space and time to focus on what’s most important right now, and then move to the next task. As renowned management thinker Peter Drucker says, “Get the right things done,” not get all the things done simultaneously.

2. Saying Yes to Things You Shouldn’t

Have you ever agreed to do something you really didn’t want to do, simply because you were afraid to say no? Of course you have! Saying “no” is tough. But when you are an entrepreneur or leader in a small business, your time is already spread thin. You have to be able to say “no.” A good practice I’ve used to help me decide what deserves my yes is this: If it isn’t a heck yes, it’s a no. When you get squeamish about delivering a “no,” ask for 24 hours to think about it, and then follow up later with a more thoughtful no.

3. Allowing Interruptions

How often each day does someone stop by and ask, “Hey, quick question”? Those minutes add up. Every time you allow yourself to get interrupted, it can take a long time to get back in the zone. When you need to take a deep dive into the work that matters most to your business, set boundaries and communicate them with your team so they know what is needed from them and for you during that period. Train your team on the best way to reach you regarding the minor and major daily interruptions so everyone is on the same page.

4. Doing Work You Should Eliminate, Automate, or Delegate

According to the Pareto Principle, if you work 40 hours a week, 80% of the value needed to run your company is accomplished in just 8 hours (20% of your work time). The other 32 hours probably isn’t creating much value at all. (If you aren’t familiar with the 80/20 Principle, try Richard Koch’s book The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less.)

If 80% of the value you bring to your organization is accomplished in 20% of your time, how can you make more effective use out of the rest of your workweek? The key is to get that low-value work off of your plate and increase the “high-value work” so you can multiply results.

How can you tell the difference between what’s high-value work that you should be doing and work that isn’t creating as much value? Here are three places to look:

What can you eliminate? 

There is probably time-consuming work on your plate that you should not be doing. In fact, NOBODY should be doing it. These are often the things that you have been doing for years. They may have been important once, but they probably aren’t anymore. Find that stuff and eliminate it.

What can you automate? 

With all the great technology out there, you can automate things that used to be really time-consuming. For example, we use systems to automate processes in our business, like the way we ask for and collect payments for recurring payments, follow-up with leads, and so on. What tasks do you do regularly that are so repetitive and copy-and-paste oriented that you might be able to automate them and free up your time?

What can you delegate?

Got any tedious, repetitive and time-consuming work? Delegate it! People are sometimes afraid to hire an assistant because they don’t see a return on investment. But look at it this way, instead of calculating your assistant’s ROI, calculate the ROI that YOU could add if they freed up 50-80% of your time to do more valuable work.

There’s one more way to delegate work…

5. DIY Projects You Don’t Really Enjoy

Home Depot has built an empire on the DIY market. It’s fun to solve some problems on our own. But there are plenty of times DIY is a waste of time. Say my fridge quits working. I could spend all day trying to tear it apart and tinker with different solutions, or I could call an expert with the training and tools to fix it in an hour. DIY only makes sense when you really enjoy the work enough to enjoy wasting time doing it. What stuff (at home and at work) should you pay an expert to do?

6. Vague Projects You Can’t Complete

Identify the “vague projects” on your list like “promote the new product line” and break it into very specific “next action steps” that you can actually cross off. Each task should be able to be accomplished in one sitting. Doing this will help you find specific tasks that can get delegated or outsourced. You’ll have the clarity to get more done every time you sit down.

7. Solo Screen Time

There’s a lot of talk about reducing “screen time” for our kids. But what about us? With smartphones, social media, viral videos and more, too much screen time has become an epidemic. Here’s a suggestion — wipe out your personal “screen time.” Some may need the screen for work, but when you’re at home, shut it off, and be present. If you like television or movies, watch a particular show or film with friends or family and make it a shared experience.

Your time is priceless.  

The most successful and fulfilled people in the world put a high value on their time, not just work time – time with family, friends, and for self-care as well. But it isn’t easy. It requires making choices, getting help, and saying no.

Practice avoiding the seven mistakes above, and you’ll find a lot more time to do what really matters in your life.

If marketing is one of those areas you’ve been spending a lot of your time, Spire exists to partner with businesses like yours to take that weight off your shoulders so you can focus your time on where you can most add value. Schedule a call with one of our team members to learn how Spire can help.

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