Are you busy?

I’m sorry to interrupt you…. are you busy? Of course you are. You’re a business owner and we’re always busy. Putting in long hours and working hard.

I bet it’s a bit chaotic too. Phone calls, emails, staff and your to do list (which never seems to get any shorter). A lot of business owners conduct their business this way. Their days are chaotic. They’re in a whirlwind of activity, going from one thing to another, rarely, if ever, coming up to take a breath.

And while all this activity is going on, most of which is pointless, the business itself moves with little to no forward momentum at all.

Of course you have to work hard to be successful. I’ve never met a lazy, successful person in my life, and I’ve certainly never met a lazy business owner. So how come so many hard working business owners are not getting the just rewards for their effort?

It’s because they’re working hard at the “wrong” things at the “wrong” time. And when I say “wrong” (because “wrong” and “right” are subjective terms), I mean ineffective – activities that have very little if any influence on improving results…or are a complete and utter waste of time, money and energy….or don’t need to be done by you at all.

Now think for a minute, because you’ll be very well served to do so: when was the last time you ran an audit on your daily activities? Do you really know which activities in your business (and your life for that matter) have the biggest impact on your success? I bet you don’t. I didn’t.

If you did you’d be far more successful than you currently are. I think we could all do with taking a step back and doing an “activity audit” on a regular basis, to avoid wasting precious time.

Take when you work. When are your high energy time slots? We all have them (and low energy ones). Most people achieve 80% of their “effective” work in 20% of their time. So if you work, on average, for 40 hours per week, that’s just 8 hours to get 80% of your work done. So when are you at your best each day?

For me it’s in the morning between 9am and 12noon; that’s when I do all my most demanding and creative work. A friend of mine says its 6am to 8am for him. Just imagine if you only worked in these high energy slots and delegated or outsourced to others everything you didn’t have to do yourself.

You’d have more time for the important stuff like family time, learning, reading and holidays.

Now look at what you do. How much of it has to actually be done by you? No, it’s less than that. Go back and try again. That’s better. Now take the long list and make three columns on a piece of paper; head them up Manage, Outsource and Do. Write down everything you currently do under one of the columns (Manage for delegated tasks) and only write in the Do column the things only you can do.

Next get your calendar or planner (a Google calendar is great for this) and mark your high energy slots. Now block off the time in these slots with the tasks on your Do list. Now fill the rest of your calendar with your family time, learning, reading and holidays….and maybe time to read my blog.

Now you’ll start to see some momentum in your business.

Noel Guilford, Principal at Guilford Accounting
Noel Guilford is the principal of Guilford Accounting a small business accountancy practice specialising in advising owner-managed businesses on current accounting, finance, and tax matters. You can reach him via email at noel@guilfordaccounting.co.uk or by phone at 01244 660866. He is the author of the 'Figure it out - an entrepreneurs guide to understanding your business numbers' which you can obtain by visiting guilfordaccounting.co.uk.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ His latest book, How to Build a Successful Business' will be published in 2018.

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