Hands down, one of the most common problems faced by entrepreneurs is a "lack of time." Yet, how is it that some people achieve so much more than others when we all share the same 24 hours? It's not because they use time management tools to keep them on track. No, it's because they have a high level of awareness and respect for their own time--and teach others to respect it as well.
If you struggle with the not-enough-hours-in-the-day syndrome, ask yourself these questions to identify at least three patterns that suck up your time. Then, commit to changing them. Old habits are hard to break so consider hiring a business coach or partner with someone to keep you on track.
1. Do I have clarity around my vision, goals, and daily tasks? (Lack of clarity leads to procrastination and confusion.)
2. Do I pack my days with too many to-do items, creating unrealistic expectations?
3. Do I allow too many interruptions from employees, prospects, customers, friends, and family?
4. Do I place strict boundaries around my time and let others know what they are?
5. Do I stick to my boundaries or do I make too many exceptions?
6. Do I talk a lot, extending conversations into hour-long chats when it's unnecessary? (Which is always.)
7. Am I a master in the art of multitasking? (Perpetual multitasking has an adverse effect on productivity.)
8. Do I love the adrenaline buzz of being overly busy?
9. Is living in chaos more comfortable to me than stilling my mind?
10. Do I find it really difficult to say no?
11. Do I accept jobs and clients that don't fit my ideal model?
12. Do I often find myself in a crunch to finish client projects because I'm in over my head or didn't assign a realistic deadline?
13. How many hours a day do I needlessly spend on social media?
14. Do I have systems in place for repetitious tasks?
15. Am I as organized as I can possibly be?
16. Do I maintain control of nearly everything because I believe no one else can do it as well?
17. Do I overprepare for prospect calls or client meetings because I'm afraid of not knowing everything I "should" know?
18. Do I believe I can't afford to hire someone to help me? (You can't afford not to.)
19. Do I really and truly believe that there is not enough time to achieve the things that only I can do? (We create the conditions we believe to be true.)
20. Do I leave open room in my schedule every day to manage the unexpected? (Avoid scheduling yourself back-to-back all day long.)
21. Do I drop everything to manage someone else's problems? (Is anything really that urgent?)
22. Do I have a system in place to address the unexpected issues in an organized and efficient way to lessen their impact on my priorities?
23. Do I regularly track my time to better understand my strengths and weaknesses in the time management category?
24. Do I batch my calls into certain days and time slots as to avoid 30- and 60-minute voids between them? (Seriously, nothing important gets done during that gap of time.)
25. Do I assign specific days and timeframes to specific tasks (e.g., Tuesday mornings for sales calls, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. every day to return calls and answer emails, Thursday mornings to write blogs or do your marketing work)?
26. Do I procrastinate on important tasks?
27. What is my belief system about money? Do I feel like there will never be enough? (This leads to poor decisions, based in fear rather than logic.)
28. Do I pick up the phone every time it rings and respond to every email when it comes in?
29. Do I drop everything for those one or two clients who are most demanding? (Bad idea!)
30. Do I train my employees well, so they don't have to ask constant questions?
31. Do I hand off more responsibilities as my employees grow in their knowledge and capabilities?
32. Do I meet with my employees regularly to keep everyone on the same page? (This prevents many issues and mistakes from arising.)
33. Have I created a culture of loyalty and trust? (Employees who experience a positive company culture are far more effective.)
34. Do I let go of employees who have shown a record of poor performance?
35. Do I live in fear that one or more of my most valuable employees will leave the company? (No one is irreplaceable.)
36. Do I direct my employees to document procedures so it's not a crisis every time someone leaves the company? (This also adds value to your company.)
37. Do I want everyone to like me? (You'll invest far too much time and make too many exceptions to win someone over.)
38. Do I:
a) Run a business that allows me the flexibility to be with my children when I need/want to, especially in the summer months?
b.) Live in stress and chaos trying to squeeze work-related tasks in between my children's needs and desires?
c.) Ask for or hire help so I can focus on my business without interruption and enjoy the time I spend with my children?
39. Do I know what my "prime time" is and use it to achieve things that take a high level of energy and creativity? (Perform tasks that consume more of your energy during the hours when you typically feel more energetic.)
40. Do I have proof that my business model can be highly profitable as it is today or is it possible that I'm spinning my wheels, rather than identifying a new path?
41. Am I still passionate about my work or am I too exhausted to feel energized by my passion? (It's time to figure out what fuels your flame and get back to it.)
42. Do I plan my week and review my to-do list either first thing in the morning or the night before?
43. Do I have a healthy morning routine that inspires and energizes me, or do I lay in bed catching up on emails before my feet hit the ground?
44. Do I have solid goals and targets in place and know how to achieve them? (Lack of clarity is one of the top culprits in poor time management.)
45. Do I come up with new and amazing ideas all of the time and desert my current goals to investigate these bright and shiny objects?
46. Do I interrupt my workday to perform household tasks and run too many personal errands?
47. Do I allow others to treat me like I don't have a job, simply because I work from home?
48. Do I take at least one vacation per year? (Burnout leads to decreased productivity.)
49. Do I constantly live with guilt about not spending enough time with my family or anything else? (Negative emotions preoccupy the mind and weigh us down.)
50. Do I invest in myself and my business by consulting with experts, or do I think I know it all?
There is nothing that can't be improved upon or changed. You simply need to believe in yourself, let go of the illusion of complete control, and ask for help.