“Work smarter, not harder.” At some point in your business career, you have heard this phrase. You have bought planners and purchased apps to prioritize and schedule your day in hopes that you will become more efficient. You have days where you manage your time very well and accomplish all your tasks, and days when you leave work feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing. Like most life goals, time management is not a sprint but a marathon. If time management is something you struggle with (or even something you’re great at), here a few tips to help you best leverage your time.
Practice Self-Discipline and Eliminate “Squirrels”
Self-discipline is essential to time management. There are many “squirrels,” or distractions, that chip away at your time, and you need to have the discipline to say “no” or “not now.” Distractions can come in many forms, from your coworkers to social media to caregivers and even clients. It’s important that you identify your distractions, and try to steer away from them. Some common distractions are:
- Online news
- Social media
- Urgent issues
- Clients and their families
Some of these distractions are essential to your business, like caregivers and clients, so you need to determine what is worth your time and what can be delegated to someone else. One way to ensure you are productive is to have a key focus period. This is a period during the day where you turn off all distractions and just work. Make sure your team knows when you are in your key focus time, so they won’t enter your office with questions or distractions. This can be done by putting a sign on your door or scheduling it in your calendar.
One method that Home Care Pulse CEO, Aaron Marcum, has found very effective for his time management is an app called Rescue Time. Rescue Time is a website that locks you out of your distraction websites and logs your productive time for the day. If you struggle with browsing the news for too long or checking social media, Rescue Time can block those sites for an amount of time you allot to help ensure you stay focused.
Manage Your Emails
According to Rescue Time, the average employee will spend about 28% (or 2 hours) of their day on email. Email may seem productive, but all that small amount of time reading emails adds up and can result in taking hours from your day. It’s important to set ground rules when it comes to email. A few rules that you can incorporate are:
- Set specific times in the day you check your email and only check at those designated times.
- Configure your email filter/rules so emails are automatically delivered into the appropriate folder.
- Configure your email so you have to hit the “send/receive” button to receive your emails. This will help you to avoid getting a constant onslaught of emails.
- Pick your top 3-5 industry monthly newsletters and unsubscribe from the rest.
There are many methods you can use to manage your emails, but if you don’t know where to start the above ideas are a great place to begin!
Avoid Team “Squirrels”
How many times do you get people in your office distracting you with their work problems? At Home Care Pulse, we define these distractions as “team squirrels.”
In First Things First, written by Stephen Covey, he defines four quadrants where time management problems can occur:
- Important and urgent
- Important and not urgent
- Not important and urgent
- Not important and not urgent
When you are approached with a problem, try to categorize the issue into one of these quadrants. If it is important and urgent, then you know it needs to be acted on now, but if it is important and not urgent, then it can wait until you are out of your focus time. Often times, business owners will let the not important and not urgent matters take the majority of their time, and they neglect the most important quadrant: Important and not urgent. You may feel pressure to focus on the things that are urgent, whether important or not, but through discipline and utilizing these four quadrants, you can put your efforts into matters that are worthy of your time.
Incorporate Buffer, Focus, and Free Days
Buffer, focus and free days allow you to leverage your time so you can accomplish all the tasks that are essential to running a successful home care business.
Buffer days are those days designated to specific tasks. Most buffer days are on Mondays and Fridays and are saved for the day-to-day administrative duties like budgeting, upkeep, and business research. By incorporating a buffer day(s) into your week, you are allowing yourself to have uninhibited focus time Tuesday through Thursday. You can even incorporate buffer time into each individual day to boost efficiency.
Focus days are designated for “money making activities.” This could be days where you visit your clients or meet with potential professional referral sources. It’s those days that are focused on driving your business and your promoters.
Finally, free days are meant for rejuvenation and family time. On these days, try your best to not communicate with the office and avoid all business-related thinking (even business books.) This will ensure that your free days are truly rejuvenating, so when you return, you are motived and ready to get to work.
Proper time management will make a huge difference in how your business performs and the amount of success you will see. There will be some days where you’ll be more distracted than others. It’s not about perfection but about progress. By using small methods to schedule your time, you will see a big difference in your stress levels and your ability to give your time and attention to every task.
Visit our Resource Library for dozens of free tools, templates, webinars, and resources to help you with time management as well as reduce caregiver turnover, market to referral sources, increase client satisfaction, and manage your home care business