Time management is the ability to plan and control how you spend the hours in your day to effectively accomplish your goals, according to Psychology Today. Experts in this arena seem to agree, and there are countless theories behind the most productive habits. Kevin Kruse even shared his findings from research and interviews with ultra-productive billionaires, Olympic athletes, straight-A students, and over 200 entrepreneurs in his book 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management.
With this expert advice in tow, here are three must-have time management skills we think professional service firm owners like you ought to know.
Set and Align Time Management Goals with Your Calendar
Any goal that’s important to you, success, health, loving relationships, changing the world, whatever those things may be, should show up in your schedule. That’s advice from Keith Rabois, someone who knows a thing or two about building successful companies, having been a key player at Square, Yelp, PayPal, and LinkedIn.
In an interview with Inc., Rabois said that when he invests in a new company, he conducts a “calendar audit” to make sure business owners are spending most of their time on what’s important. “Time is a finite resource,” Rabois says. “Matching your priorities against your time is important.”
Connect Priority Tasks with the Right Schedule
In July 2009, Paul Graham, programmer, writer, and investor wrote a well-known essay about two types of working schedules. There’s the manager’s schedule, a day cut into one-hour intervals with lots of meetings. And there’s the maker’s schedule, often preferred by people who function best with large blocks of uninterrupted time, like programmers and writers. As Graham said, “you can’t write or program well in units of an hour.”
Monitor Where Your Time Actually Goes
As a professional service firm owner, you may be frequently interrupted or pulled in different directions. While you cannot eliminate interruptions, you can use your schedule to minimize them.
Block out manager time to work in your business; meetings, staff development, emails, and calls. But also block out maker time to work on your business; goals, strategy, and new opportunities. Supporting the importance of maker time, the ever-quotable Albert Einstein once said: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer than anyone else.”
The point is, time is finite and we can’t create more of it, but we can make the most of it with time management. That’s where monitoring your time with a mobile timesheet app really helps. It’s even more critical that the time data you enter be associated with a project, a client, or even non-billable time that’s tied to a long-term “maker’s” goal.
Don’t Do More – Do What Matters
One thing is clear from all this advice: time management isn’t just about the efficient use of our time. It’s the alignment of our actions with what’s important to us.
There will never be enough time for everything. We can’t pursue every opportunity, explore every path, or say yes to everyone. No matter how productive we are, there is only enough time for what truly matters. And that’s something each of us has to figure out.
BigTime Software delivers real-time, metrics-driven time tracking, billing and project management for more than 2,000 professional firms, tracking over $2 billion (USD) worth of billable time each year. Their flagship product is a SaaS-based system that is custom-built for the professional services industry – specifically, Accounting, Architecture and Engineering, Consulting, Creative, Government Contracting, IT Services and Legal firms. BigTime is a venture-funded company based in Chicago committed to helping clients run professional teams more efficiently, unlocking potential revenue and improving profitability within the knowledge economy.