I asked the business owner who was lamenting the challenges of being an entrepreneur, “Who decides what you do in a day?”. He answered, “me, of course”.
My point of course was that he has no one to blame but himself. What separates the successful from the not-so-successful entrepreneur is becoming masters of our three most important resources: People (including ourselves), money and time.
The most important issue I coach young entrepreneurs on is time management. And I do so by sharing my own disciplines on time management, two of which I’ll share here.
Chart my year: At the beginning of each year, I’m required to file a time allocation chart with my partners. I must show the percent of time will I spend on each of my goals for that year, on each of our businesses and for my personal life. This chart establishes my intentions very clearly.
Then comes the tougher part; the partners also require me to review those allocations each quarter. I must actually look through my calendar and projects and see where I’m on track and where I’m not.
This is where most entrepreneurs – and most people – fall down. Most of us are pretty good with setting our intentions. Connecting our actions with our intentions? Not so much.
Chart my day: I picture a perfect day. Since the goal of my life is to be balanced in terms of 1. Spiritual, 2. Physical, 3. Intellectual and 4. Social activities, I then do “four square” just as we taught our children.
Make a one large square that is my day, then fill in those four elements as smaller boxes within the larger one. Then list activities for each that I can schedule and do them regularity. Examples follow:
Spiritual: Meditate, attend church, read spiritually inspiring passages, connect to someone’s pain
Physical: Run, workout, walk around, take the stairs vs. elevator occasionally, touch someone I love
Intellectual: Take a class, read a book, ask a question in a group that drives debate, do research online
Social: Call my siblings, visit my kids, make dates with Alice/friends, enjoy a cup of coffee at a café and share a smile with someone
The ones I follow most regularly are: meditation most days, mass on Sunday, 4 workouts a week, reading before bed and Sunday afternoons, five social gigs on my calendar at all times.
Beware to take none of this literally. Like all of us, I’ve more days failing than succeeding at this. But I write to remember what I really believe and I share my thoughts so we might think and learn together.
The vast majority of us are overwhelmed by life. We have jobs and businesses, kids, parents, obligations while also being bombarded by a consumerist culture that screams: “MORE”!
So when someone tells me they don’t even have a moment to think, I feel sorry for them. And when a business owner tells me she is captive to her obligations, I feel even worse. Because in both cases, and my own case, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
It’s too easy to say my problem is “my clients/ employees/ life situation/ family/ spouse/ parents/ school” because the real answer of course is:
The true master of my time is me.