“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” -William Penn.
Time is elusive, it’s mysterious, and it’s the one thing small business owners never seem to have enough of. That is why you’ll find a lot of verbiage on time management. But perhaps instead of focusing on time, how much you have of it, how much you worked in the last hour, it would be best to focus on value and quality of work.
The Time Trap
The hard truth is: you can’t manage time. Time just marches on and can’t be manipulated by human. Yet, I bet many of us try to do precisely that.
Then a strange thing happens. We attach our success to the time it took to accomplish a certain task. It’s either that doing it quickly is a victory or that the length of time it took gives it valor. Or, we cut corners in order to get things done quickly, valuing the fact that we’ve stopped working and now have “free” time. The question, though, is how great was what you created?
Tasks that Go Nowhere
One of the reasons we never seem to have enough time is often that we’re trying to do too much. Often, people value work for the sake of work and try to cram too much into a particular day. When someone wants us to do something, or when a piece of work is related to a larger task, it can often seem, intuitively necessary. Only too rarely do we evaluate tasks to see how necessary they are. We may fear that doing so comes from laziness or a lack of the proper work ethic.
Stop trying to race the clock! Instead, take a moment to a whittle down your to-do list to those essential tasks that bring real value to your business. Everything else can either be given to another person or left out entirely.
The Case of the Chronic Clock Watcher
Everyone looks at a clock now and then, but if you’re a chronic clock watcher, there’s probably something that lies at the root of your compulsion. The fact is you probably do not enjoy what you’re doing. Passion makes time completely melt away. When I’m working on my business and then suddenly look up and realize three hours have passed, I know I’m doing something I love.
It’s pretty normal to go through periods where it feels like your passion went on vacation (and didn’t look back). In that case, you just need to find ways to rekindle the spark. But when those downs are frequent and prolonged, that typically means the issues are deeper, and you’ll need to stop and re-evaluate the direction your life is going in to see where you can make changes.
When Value Becomes the Focus
When you give time less prominence and instead focus on those tasks that will bring the most value to your business, your whole perspective will change. Instead of trying to be the next superman or superwoman who can scale enormous to-do lists in a single bound, you’ll focus where focus is most needed. And you what to know something: not only will the quality of your work improve, but you’ll be so much happier, too. Let your shorter list of accomplished tasks be the measure of success, not how much time you’ve spent on it.
In closing, it’s important to remember that the greatest measure of success should be the actual tasks you’ve accomplished and not the time it takes to get there. This will lead to a richer work experience where time becomes irrelevant. You’ll begin having fun and the hours will fly by.