Managing time is complex for even those with a singular role in a business. When you are the entirety of the staff compliment if the business this becomes even more difficult. The one-person show is really complicated because it tends to throw you into the deep end with tasks you would rather not do at all but are essential to the longevity of your business, like admin. So when you are everyone in the business, how do you manage the time to make things work?
We manage ourselves not time
I love this lesson because it means more each time I review it. I originally picked it in the late Dr Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people. We cannot manage time, we only observe it. What we manage is ourselves to make the best use of the time we have. So what you need to do first is accept this paradigm shift.
Scheduling is your friend
I really don’t know when it happened but working to a routine and schedule was given a bad reputation and it goes on and on. Yet, what I have found with people I have advised and worked with is once they learn to use scheduling and routines properly they love and live by their routines. Perhaps it’s not knowing how to do it properly. Many people like to schedule easier tasks first and that is a recipe for disaster. Its different for everyone but the best approach for many is to match scheduled tasks with energy. So for the 5 am club (which I’m a member of) getting up early to do small tasks doesn’t make sense. Schedule big tasks that involve deep work and take advantage of the lack of distraction. Similarly, if you have the energy to do anything more than reports and admin at the day then you’re blessed.
Learn to batch process
Multitasking works but not effectively. Problem is we have been brought up to respond to urgency but not importance. So you will find people are really responsive to phone calls and emails while putting aside the tasks that actually make the money. Batch processing allows you to stay on top of activity traps like phone calls and emails and it goes hand in hand with scheduling. Setting a time of day to respond to emails or return enquiry phone calls helps. Batch processing uses the power of focus to make each task in the process easier to handle. Its easier to write an email when you’re in the middle of writing other emails than when you’re neck-deep in a spreadsheet.
The power of NO
In many cases its what you say no to that matters most. Scheduling and batch processing are worthless if you cannot say no to other things that will be competing for your attention in the process. Focus is the elimination of other distractions and that includes work-related distractions. Think of that phone call from the client who wants to know why their social media page has dropped in activity. You really won’t have answers until you’re looking at the page so learn to say no and schedule a call when you can speak with data in front of you.
Rest before you are tired
This is the most important lesson and the hardest to teach. You will see a lot of people quoting “learn to rest when you are tired”. WRONG! If you’re tired it’s too late. Learn to rest before you are tired. If you wait until you are tired recovery will need a lot more time and take a lot more out of you. Schedule the rest while you’re scheduling the work. Plan regular rest before you are tired and allow yourself the best chance of being in top condition.
The one-person show is complex and taxing but that doesn’t mean it has to end in disaster. Start self-managing today to get the best out of it.