Four different CEOs/Owners/Partners told me in just one week that they’re going to take action just as soon as they “find the time.”
My response? “If you’re like every other business owner I know, you’ll be waiting a long time. Because no one finds the time.”
Why is Making Time so Difficult?
My clients are great, hard-working people. They’re passionate about their work and dedicated to delivering the best value to their clients and customers. They make promises with every intent to deliver on those promises. They are admirable in all respects.
They share one key belief that interferes with their ability to make time: they believe that they can’t ever take a break from working IN their business to think and choose how they spend their time and attention. It isn’t that there are no choices, it is that they don’t stop what they’re doing long enough to consider—really, deeply consider—those choices. They say they don’t have time to consider the fact that they don’t have time to consider!
This is a circular mindset that will not be broken until they break it themselves.
How to Get Out of the Circle
This is not an issue of time management. You can’t manage time, time manages itself by its steady passing, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and so on. You cannot manage time.
What you can, and must, manage is how you choose to use your time. Every use of a minute or an hour or a day is a choice. And what you choose means that you’ve chosen not to do something else.
Making time requires that you change your choices for each hour, day or week.
The World Will Go On When You Make Time
After years of active busy-ness, most people worry that if they stop and break the cycle, all things will fall apart. That is not true but until you experience it yourself, you don’t know that and you worry.
The only way to experience the benefits of making time in your day and week is to do it. It’s cold turkey, for sure. One day, block off three hours. Put a huge Do NOT Disturb sign on the door, in your electronic calendar and on your workspace.
Tell everyone that you are making time to work on growing the business. Say a firm and confident ‘no’ when someone asks you for some of your attention during this three hours.
Your Three Hour Internal Investigation
What will you do during these three hours? You will concentrate on a couple of clear and well defined outcomes. Write them as statements in the active voice. Here are thirteen options. Pick two or three and spend three hours thinking about them. Allow your train of thought to go where it wants. Ask yourself “What would have to be true to achieve this outcome?” Jot down brief answers and notes, but don’t dwell to the point that you’re writing a plan.
- We maximize revenue from our current buyers.
- We maximize revenue from our best buyers.
- We have a cultivate and nurture plan for our current buyers.
- We regularly develop new offerings for our current buyers.
- We know what new offerings our current buyers would like to buy.
- We have a clear understanding of how each employee contributes to revenue (especially those that aren’t obviously directly connected to buyers).
- We have the most compact sales cycle possible to increase speed from inquiry to purchase.
- We have excellent practices in place to transition prospects from marketing to sales.
- We have amazing customer service.
- We have a useful CRM (customer relationship management) system.
- We use our CRM every day.
- I know exactly what only I can do and I assign everything else to others.
- I use my knowledge and expertise to work ON the business, not in the business.
In the last 15 minutes, choose two ideas you’ve come up with to turn into action. Make appointments with yourself to do what it takes. These appointments can be 30 minutes, 1 day or a few weeks. Write them down.
After Your Three Hours
When you emerge you’ll be inclined to check on what happened in your absence. Do not follow that inclination. If something happened, let the person it happened to tell you about it.
Tell at least one other person what outcomes you’ve chosen to focus on, and what you’re going to do to achieve them. Be very clear that this is a priority, and won’t be pushed aside to put out fires or fall back into your old habits.
If you’re still wondering how you can make time I’ll remind you of this: You are the owner, the chief executive, the partner. Why are you in this role if you only react? No matter what, nothing will change until you change.
Change starts with you and it starts right now if you choose it.
“I never would have made the single most transformative change in my business if I hadn’t chosen to Susan to advise me.” 25 year CEO.