The Payoffs of Weekly Planning
By Mark Wardell @MarkWardell | March 1, 2011
If you don't have time to think about time management, you're not alone. Many business owners find themselves caught up in an unprofitable treadmill, working 60 hours a week without enough to show for it. That's because, when you're running a business, your time is in demand. So, without a plan in place, you're far more likely to be pulled in many time-wasting directions.
The solution? A weekly schedule. Used properly, this tool can singlehandedly ensure that your daily activities are in sync with your big-picture goals, every second of your day.
If you're still not convinced, think of it like this: Your time is money. Every day, you have 86,400 seconds at your disposal. Like dollars to spend, if you don't invest your time wisely, it's just a big, fat waste. There is no going back in time to draw against "tomorrow."
However strapped for time you are now, your situation will never improve without a time management strategy. By using a weekly schedule, you can begin to more effectively manage your time. (The added bonus? You'll likely find yourself with a significantly more profitable business as a result.)
STEP 1: Get a grip (on your schedule)
If your daily routine varies according to whatever seems to be most important at any given time, then setting aside time to invest in your business will always remain a low priority, when it should be on the top of your list. Start operating on a schedule (strategically) and you'll force yourself to make time for the things you know are important, but have trouble getting around to. This puts you back in charge of your most important investment currency—your time.
STEP 2: Start tracking your time
Take a critical look at how you are currently using your daily time. No doubt you are busy, but what exactly are you busy doing and when? By diligently tracking your time for a minimum of two weeks, you can get clear on where your time is currently being spent (and what changes need to occur).
STEP 3: Assessment time
Ok, it's report card time. Put all of your activities into three categories. The first category is anything that could be done by someone else (highlight these in red). The second is anything you feel the need to do yourself (highlight these in yellow). And the third category is all activities related to business development (highlight these in green). For this purpose, business development means all the activities that help you reach your long-term business goals.
STEP 4: Make some changes
At this stage, if you're like most business owners, you will likely see a lot of red and yellow on your page with very little green. So start searching for ways to outsource or delegate as many of the red ("could be done by someone else") actions as possible.
If you're a person who likes to retain control of everything that happens in your business, ask yourself if you want to do this forever. To be a success in business, you must learn to trust in the capabilities of your people. Loosen the reins, or you may end up holding your own company back.
STEP 5: Let the scheduling begin
As you move forward with your new approach to weekly scheduling, your first assignment is to make time for "business development" work every day. I suggest you start by blocking out an hour each day to focus on your business goals, during which you are "unreachable" for anything other than emergencies.
Next, add your weekly activities that can't move, such as important company meetings. And finally, schedule regular time for all other activities such as checking e-mail, reviewing finances, marketing and so forth.
Start scheduling priority actions from a big-picture viewpoint and, before long, you'll start feeling more in control of your time and your business.