Only 24 Hours
News Flash – there is still only 24 hours in a day. Why then, do business owners plan their to-do list as if there were more? In small businesses there is never a lack of work to be done. And yet, there’s tremendous pressure on business owners to get more done.
The reality is that you only have a certain amount of time to dedicate to your business. That might be 40 hours a week or it might be 60+ hours.
You cannot do 80 hours of work in 40 hours, yet many business owners set goals and expectations to do just that. Goals are often set by what needs to be done, not what can realistically get done in the time allotted. This often leads to procrastination, overwhelm, burnout, and even the feeling of failure.
These feelings make it difficult to prioritize because even though a task might be a high priority, when compared to other tasks, and the limited time you have, the priority level drops.
Being able to prioritize and set realistic expectations starts with scheduling tasks. How you put a task, or even a project, on your schedule can make a big difference in making sure expectations are feasible and not overreaching.
Follow these tips to help ensure that you are not setting unrealistic expectations:
- Unless you plan to finish the project from start to finish in one sitting, break a project into tasks. When a project is complex or takes more time, it’s tempting to just keep putting it off. You simply do not have time. By breaking the project into smaller tasks, you will find that you can move it forward without feeling overwhelmed. You may not have two hours to work on the project, but you can dedicate 10 minutes to one piece of the project. It helps make the project manageable.
- Every task should have the time it will take to complete it behind the description in parentheses, ie: “Finish Smith Proposal (30 minutes).” Assigning tasks to your schedule or to-do list is often a mindless activity. Getting into the habit of estimating how much time a task will take forces you to think about what is realistic. In addition, if the task shows the time it will take then if you have to postpone, it’s easier to know where you can re-work it into your schedule. And if something else gets canceled, it’s easier to look ahead and start on tasks if you know how long they will take.
As a business owner you should always be asking what needs to come off your plate, and implementing these tips will make a difference in how you utilize the time you have to dedicate to your business.