Effective time management is a perennial problem for many of us. Dealing with your inbox, phone calls, meetings and managing your team could each take up your working day all on their own. There are many factors underlying our lack of time and hundreds of books have been written on the subject – I’m not going to add to them now. I’m just going to give you three quick tips to free up your time and help you in one specific area – prioritisation.
As with so many time management strategies, prioritisation is simple, but not easy. If it was easy to always work on our most important priorities we’d be doing it all the time and making massive progress! Since many of us struggle to prioritise our time effectively, here are three tips to help you.
Your number one client
Your number one client isn’t the one paying you the biggest fee or even the one you really enjoy working with; it’s your own practice. Like a car, your practice needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. If you don’t give it the attention and time it needs, it can’t effectively serve the needs of your other clients and it gradually becomes unsustainable.
So get yourself into the mindset that it’s essential to spend time working on your practice, not just in it.
Block out time
I remember talking to an accountant many years ago in the days when we used physical diaries. And he said to me, “No matter how much I try to block out time for working on my business, something would always come in and I would fill it. And then I found the best way ever to block out the time.” He tore out the page for every single Friday of his diary for the entire year and that prevented him from putting anything in it.
You don’t have to block out an entire day; just an hour a week to start with will help if that’s all the time you can afford. You’ll find that the impact will snowball and you’ll free up more and more time as you go on. But no matter how much time you set for yourself, make sure you don’t let anything else interfere.
What’s really important
Where do you want to be in two years, five years, ten years? How do you want to be spending your time, both professionally and personally? What kind of clients do you want to be working with? How much do you want your average fee to be? How many holidays do you want to have each year?
It all comes down to what’s really important to you and having a clear idea of where you’re going. So take some time to work out what matters to you, because it’s different for everyone.
Once you have a clear idea in your mind of what you’re aiming for, it’s easier to make decisions. Will that prospective new client who just wants a cheap set of accounts bring you closer to your goal, or further away? Does that new team member have the right attitude to help you achieve your vision for your practice? This will help you make the best use of your time.
More insights here: Time Management Is All About Boundaries
This is only scratching the surface of time management and I look at it in much more detail in my book, Putting Excellence Into Practice. The book gives you a proven roadmap to help you improve your practice in the way you want.
For more tips and hundreds of video resources based on the book, take a look at the AVN Know How Hub. You can join for as little as £1 (which goes to charity) and get 30 days access.