Managing time is an important part of building a successful business. Have you ever experienced times where you worked tirelessly 12 hours a day, putting one fire out after another? When you finally collapse, settle down and look over your day you ask yourself, what did I accomplish? You got nothing! Many entrepreneurs have experienced this feeling akin to a mouse cycling in a forever turning wheel. You spin your wheels, and it seems like you haven’t accomplished anything, no traction at all. Run, run, run and it seems like you’re going nowhere. To enjoy your business and successfully build it, you need to find a way to manage your time.
There is a well known money solution that says “tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” This is also true for budgeting your time as an entrepreneur, you tell your day what to do or you will wonder where the time went.
Urgency and Importance
We can spend time doing menial things that serve to keep us in our comfort zone. Things like wasting a day sleeping late, wandering around with no plans, watching TV, scrolling through social media and at the end of the day you’re exhausted and feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. Running a business often leads you out of your comfort zone but if you strategically work a daily plan in pursuit of your business goals, you will be energized after a long day and feel like you’ve gained some traction. Here are four zones in which our time is spent.
Zone 1: Important and Urgent
Zone 2: Important but not urgent
Zone 3: Not important, but urgent
Zone 4: Not important and not urgent.
Zone 1 is easy and a familiar zone for new entrepreneurs. When you wear all the hats in your business, pay the bills, do the marketing etc. everything you do in the business is important and urgent.
Zone 4: is just as easy. The things that are not important and not urgent are clearly a waste of your time. Not many can argue with that. Scrolling social media, binge watching a TV series and so on are time wasters and do nothing to grow your business.
I think it is safe to say that most people don’t have a problem with the first and last zones. It’s the second and third zones that steal valuable time from growing a successful business. It’s in these zones that time management is imperative to master if you want to win.
Zone 3 “not important but urgent” is a deceiver. In this zone the urgency of the event makes it seem important when in truth it is a waste of valuable time. This is when you are busy thinking of a winning marketing strategy, and a text alert comes through. Like a moth drawn to light you stop your critical train of thought to check your text messages. It’s from a friend who finds it necessary to send every funny, or bizarre text to you. At another time this may be important, but you’ve now been distracted from what could turn into a milestone for your business. You did something “urgent but not important”.
As you are growing your business what you deem important will change.
Zone 4 is “important but not urgent” This is an extremely important allocation of your time. Things that tend to fall into this category are:
Reading business/self-help books
Date night with your spouse
Changing the oil in your car
These things are the building blocks of a successful, high-quality lifestyle. You can agree that these things are not urgent, but they are important. These are some of the things we tend to avoid most. The truth is if you avoid these things, they will move to Zone 1 and become urgent. For example, If you don’t exercise, your business could be disrupted by a long hospital stay. If you don’t change the oil in your car, you could be faced with having to buy a new engine and so on. These not so urgent activities could potentially cost you time away from your business, not to mention financial disruption.
The key take-away here for building a successful business is to intentionally and with fervor budget your time to make Zone 1 and Zone 2 your priority, pay attention to zone 4 as much as you can and either delegate or completely avoid zone 3.