Most working adults have to contend with demanding schedules –and there’s nothing wrong with keeping busy. However, when the list of things that need doing feels endless, and the hours in a day too short, the problem might be bigger than the fact that life is tough.
If you feel like you’re always caught in a mad scramble to meet the deadlines you set for yourself and your tradie business, or find yourself exhausted on a regular basis, then your time management probably needs work.
Likewise, if you desperately wish you could devote more time to your family, friends, or even your own personal welfare, then you definitely need to see about buying yourself a little more time in a given day or week. Luckily, there are ways to fix this sort of problem, and they’re all well within your capabilities.
This guide will teach you four techniques to make the most out of your average work day, and empower you to attend to the other priorities in your life.
4 Essential Time Management Techniques
- Be Patient
- Start with the End in Mind
- Take a Step Back
- Inspire Growth
Technique #1 – be patient
As the owner of a tradie business, it’s tempting to be the kind of leader who gets everything done at a moment’s notice. In reality, you should avoid starting on tasks the minute they occur to you. It’s a common mistake to execute tasks without taking a moment to think things through, and a common mindset to think that the sooner you engage with a problem, the faster you get it done.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it comes with a high risk of churning out disorganised work, or being stumped by an unforeseen problem as you’re working. That is where being patient comes in very handy.
There are benefits to thinking through even the most urgent laundry-list of duties. For one thing, you’ll find yourself with the feeling that you have a lot more time than you thought; a clear and organised mind is far better suited for higher-order thinking. For another, you can anticipate problems well ahead of time and avoid costly mistakes and do-overs.
To put your patience into practice, we recommend taking a step back and revisiting your priorities. Simply asking the right questions can do wonders here:
- What tasks do I need to accomplish?
- What tools do I have at my disposal?
- What are the different deadlines that I’m working with?
Your time management depends on an efficient schedule, and you get that by segmenting tasks in your head on the basis of their doability, your current opportunities, and urgency. By leaving easier and less important tasks for later in the day, you can address difficult and time-sensitive ones with a clearer head.
If you put this into practice, you’ll see that the feeling of being rushed and overworked is mainly the result of impatience. Start smart, start strong, and plan things through to the end –you’ll be glad you did when you can end each day on time, and accomplished.
Technique #2 – Start with the end in mind
Going without a clear idea of your target is a recipe for messy and directionless work. As important as patience and planning can be, this second technique involves how the best plans are laid out: by starting with the end goal and working backward.
Everything revolves around your goals –be they big or small. Your schedule should be optimally geared to hit a series of targets, your plans should chart the best possible course to a destination, and your business as a whole is a problem-solving machine.
Taking the clearest idea of your goals and building around them is the sensible way to get anything done. When you know your goal inside and out, work your way towards a solution. Start with the most distant pieces that need to fall into place, moving towards your present situation and planning for problems that are likely to come up.
Let’s take an example: you’re looking to generate more referrals. Instead of planning ideas for a solution, you take a closer look at your goal and start by deciding the number of referrals you’re after. Next, you think of the precise moment that leads a client to refer, what comes right before that, and so on.
Along the way, you ask yourself important “What If?” questions to identify possible challenges at every step. By the end of your planning exercise, you have a strong, targeted plan with contingencies in place in case the worst should happen. It takes some practice to get out of the habit of planning your way towards a goal and charting the shortest path backward.
Rest assured that pulling this off will leave you with tighter, more thought-out plans.
Technique #3 – take a step back
Humans are a creature of habit, and oftentimes those habits do us a lot more harm than good. Poor time management consists of useless or self-sabotaging habits that can be very difficult to overcome: whether they’re the routines you play out, the number of breaks you take (if any), or the amount of time you’re willing to spend on a particular task.
Bad productivity habits can be obvious, but the most disastrous ones are the ones that are hard to spot. Working for hours on end without taking a break might sound admirable, for example, but science suggests you’re only setting yourself up to underperform.
It’s just a hard fact that we have to contend with: when things become routine, we’re more likely to take them for granted. Of course, not all is lost. There are ways to overcome the pull of habit, and our favorite method involves taking a breather.
Take a step back and put your habits and routines into perspective. Audit yourself and your business to spot practices that sound great on paper but fail under observation. Likewise, look at work that keeps people busy but leaves them with little to show for it at the end of the day.
Cut the fluff from your schedule and from your business’ workflow, and watch as your results increase.
Technique #4 – inspire growth
To cap off this list, one final reason why you might feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world is that you’re carrying the weight of your employees. You’re bound to be exhausted if you repeatedly need to tell your staff off for the same mistakes or instruct them to solve different versions of the same problems.
If you want to free up your time, you need to teach your employees to learn from each challenge and handle them independently should they happen again. The best way to go about this is by encouraging their ideas, communicating with them openly and directly, and making thorough assessments of their skill sets over time.
Moreover, it’d be a great load off your back if you made sure to hire managers who can inspire the same growth mentality among your employees.
Time is a valuable resource. It’s a benchmark for professional excellence, and a key to more time spend among people and things that make your life meaningful. Don’t squander your time by glossing over the myriad ways you and your business could be wasting it. Instead, follow these four easy time management techniques, and enjoy life as a happier, healthier, and wealthier business owner.