3 New Time Management Habits That Will Improve Your Business Accountability
What does time management mean to you? Many think that juggling several tasks at one time, or multitasking, is effective time management. Although, when nearly every moment of your day is consumed with taking on multiple tasks at once, that’s not time management, that’s chaos. If you continue to live in this chaos you’ll be exhausted, and then stress, anxiety and burnout will develop.
Since your life’s journey consists of several milestones, no doubt juggling responsibilities will get more complicated. You buy a house, and then home maintenance becomes part of your life. You start a relationship, then you have new commitments to your partner’s family. As your kids get into sports, you become the taxi driver, or even the coach. You start a business, then suddenly you become the book keeper, sales associate, marketer, and as assigned daily person.
But somehow over the course of these milestones, your time management system has become muddled by life’s increased demands. Small business owners are most guilty of this since you don’t clock out at 4 or 5PM, and therefore are challenged to manage time efficiently. Over time you most likely have adopted bad habits of reacting to situations that directly or indirectly get in the way of being accountable to your business goals.
Without good time management habits your business accountability will suffer. To become more accountable to your business goals you need to implement new habits that will put you in control of your schedule and your life.
3 Positive Time Management Habits For Greater Accountability In Life And Business
Managing your time does not involve completing as many tasks as you can in the time you have. If you were to make this a habit, then your willpower will be depleted before the day is through. This is why you need to change the way you look at time management, so that you’ll be more productive, and able to improve your business accountability.
There are three new habits that I'd like you to consider adding to your daily routine. Keep in mind that implementing a new habit can take 21 days with a business accountability coach, and over 60 days without one. So the stronger the desire for change, and the better the system for change, the greater your chances of completely adopting a new habit. Here are the three habits:
1. Assess the Task Before Committing To It
Before adding a task onto your todo list or in your calendar, whether this is self-assigned or a request from someone else, ask yourself these three questions:
Do I have time?
Will this contribute or take away from my goals?
Is there a better or more efficient way to achieve this?
An excellent tool to get you into the practice of assessing tasks is the Urgent and Important tool. This will help you to determine what you should take action on now or later, and what you should delegate or eliminate.
2. Self-Evaluate Your Work Performance and Productivity
At the top of every hour, look back at how that hour was spent. Many times at the end of the day we notice that not much was achieved and wonder where the day went. It’s so easy to let time slip away from us. So to build this awareness, at the top of every hour evaluate your activity by asking yourself these three questions:
What activities did I complete?
What time wasters or distractions did I permit?
On a scale of 1 to 10 how focused was I, if being extremely focused was a 10?
An hour can easily slip through our fingers because of the alerts from our smartphone, people coming into your office, and from unrelated random thoughts. Using this self-evaluation can point out ways to improve your work performance and increase productivity. You may start to notice when you’re most focused and when you get the most interruptions. This can help you strategically block off time for tasks that require your undivided attention.
3. Increase Your Business Accountability
Time management and business accountability are directly connected. Having strong habits geared to managing your time removes the obstacles in the way of being accountable to your business goals. As you become more discerning about your time, your awareness of priorities and the obstacles that get in the way of completing them increase. To determine what else you need to consider to increase your business accountability, ask yourself these three questions:
What tasks or habits can I eliminate that are no longer relevant to achieving my life goals?
How will I replenish my willpower to keep me strong until the end of the day?
Before committing to a new demand on my time, who else will this impact?
As mentioned earlier, we fall into this chaotic way of living by continuously loading on tasks, and not taking away tasks. You only have so many hours in the day and can’t keep cramming in more items on your todo list.
Then to keep yourself from being exhausted at the end of the day—as small business owners are prone to not making self-care a priority—recharge your willpower. Your mind is far more efficient and productive when you rest in between tasks. Taking a 15 minute break before switching to another task will improve focus and concentration.
Lastly, as you take on more responsibility, you may forget that this decision can impact the lives of others you care about. Break ups in relationships happen because of breakdowns in communication. So before accepting a task that takes away from others, make yourself aware of what you might be giving up. Having this conversation with the ones you love will make it easier to say "no" to new demands on your time.
3 Bad Habits That Effect Your Time Management
Implementing the three good habits for effective time management skills is important. Although, if you have bad habits or unsupportive beliefs related to time management, they will conflict and reduce your success of adopting the new good habits. Three of these bad habits are people pleasing, a fast-paced lifestyle mindset, and believing that doing more improves work productivity.
1. How Being A People Pleaser Interferes With Time Management
Overcommitting yourself is often the result of saying “yes” too much. Many times you can’t say "no" because of that feeling of being needed by others, as well, the guilty feeling you have if you don’t help. These are two traps we fall into for different reasons.
Many times being a small business owner can be lonely. You want to work on your business goals, but then you also need that connection to others. That feeling of being needed also translates into feeling important. So when a friend calls on you to help, you gladly oblige, since you want to still feel like you matter in their life.
The other trap of feeling guilty has you reflect on your own commitments and priorities. When others in your life don't have that same responsibility, you compare your life to theirs and then view your dedication to your goals as being selfish. Being accountable to your business has you sacrificing other demands in your life and you feel bad about making friends less of a priority. No one wants to be less of a priority in someone else’s life.
Overcoming The Urge To People Please Takes A Mindset Change.
The thought of saying “no” to someone’s request often results in thoughts of what they will think. Something like “you’re selfish, or a bad person,” perhaps? Most likely they’re thinking of how determined you are to reach your goals and that you’re discerning of what you choose to say "yes" to. As well, that you have structure in your life, and you have important commitments to keep to. Even if you don’t hear this specifically from others, you have to tell yourself this and believe it.
When you say "yes" because of that desire to feel needed, you are not looking within your close circle of how much you’re needed. Many times we don’t hear that confirmation from our partner, our kids, or even from ourselves that what we do everyday is important, and our effort is significant. So we look to others outside our family and close friends to fulfill this need. Start to look beyond the obvious verbal cues from others and notice how important the work you do right now is. People communicate their appreciation in different ways.
2. Be More Productive Without The Fast-Paced Lifestyle Mindset
That habit you created by continually piling up tasks to complete for the day, has you exhausted by the end of the day. To keep up this habit many turn to stimulants to stay awake, and sleeping aids to get the required sleep. Neither of these are healthy choices.
When taking stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine, or amphetamines you increase your alertness by increasing activity in the central nervous system. But there are side effects you have to consider. A trade-off for using stimulants to reduce fatigue is increased blood pressure and heart rate, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, paranoia and heightened aggressiveness.
If you’re taking sleeping aids to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety, which in turn decreasing activity in the central nervous system, there are also repercussions. This artificial restfulness doesn’t allow you to have the deep sleep your body needs to recharge. Instead, with continued use, you’ll experience impaired mental functioning and coordination, and emotional swings.
When I spoke of increasing your business accountability, this is one of the habits you need to give up. Living a fast-paced lifestyle will cause you more harm than good. And even if you don’t take stimulants or sleeping aids, this lack of self-care will impact your health and reduce your productivity while you’re sick in bed.
3. Trust Me! Simplifying Your Lifestyle Does Improve Work Performance
How often have you heard that harding work will pay off? This is a statement that is highly misunderstood. The belief that working hard will get you what you want out of life has many filling their day with busyness. Telling everyone that you're too busy, or that you’re an “A-Type Personality,” is like wearing a badge of honour. But where does that get you?
This idea of filling the day with tasks, or multitasking creates an illusion of being productive. Research by Lien, Ruthruff, and Johnston in 2006 states that the brain can only handle one attention-consuming task at a time. When people multitask their attention is shifted back and forth, instead performing several tasks at once. Adding to that, it takes up to twenty minutes to refocus your mind after an interruption. Therefore, focusing on one task at a time saves time, improves work performance and simplifies your life.
Time management is a skill that is honed by good habits, and to maintain good habits there must be that constant self-awareness. As you successfully master your time, you’ll find that it’s easier to maintain a consistent business accountability.
Please leave a comment of what you walked with from this blog, or share if you think someone else will benefit. Take care!
Christine Hourd is a certified success and leadership coach in Calgary, Alberta. She works with small business owners, executives, and leaders to achieve their goal of living a more fulfilling life. Please find more information on accountability, success and leadership coaching on The Success Model Site.