Managing your time can be a pain, but if you figure out how to manage time better, you will make more money.
Remember the fortune teller Ms. Cleo? She had a bunch of infomercials a decade or two ago and in a deep Jamaican accent would say “Call me now…” Well I’m putting on my Ms. Cleo fortune telling hat and making a prediction that you think you’re doing something well that you probably aren’t. What is that thing? Time management.
Why do I think you aren’t managing your time well?
For starters, because I used to suck at it. And, if you’re like the majority of people I’ve ever talked to, then you don’t quite have your working hours and your schedule locked in either.
When people say “time is money” it’s absolutely true, especially when we’re talking about our businesses.
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, what many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t realize, is that our time is extremely valuable and limited. That may not be news to you, but what might be news to you is how much money you could be leaving on the table if you aren’t diligent about your hours.
Let’s all hop in the car and take a virtual road trip to Case Study Land…
Case Study: Caroline Zook (my wife!)
My wife Caroline used to run a design and branding company called Made Vibrant. Her schedule was completely her own, which meant she not only had to manage her clients and work output, but had to understand how to manager her time.
When you aren’t managing your time properly, you aren’t running an efficient business.
One afternoon Caroline was really frustrated. She told me she felt like her schedule was completely full, yet she wasn’t making nearly as much money as she’d hoped (a feeling we can all can relate to). Having had experience owning a web design company, I asked her to do a simple hourly evaluation exercise with me…
We opened up her Google Calendar and I asked her how many hours she realistically wanted to spend on client work per week. Her answer was 5 hours per day (she would be at her computer for much more than that, but she knew she wanted to work on personal projects and other things as well). At 5 hours per day, I told her she should have 25 billable hours per week, or 100 billable hours per month. If we took the hourly rate she was comfortable charging ($75 per hour), she should be able to make $7,500 per month.
- Hours she wanted to work per day: 5
- Hours she wanted to work per week: 25
- Total billable hours per month: 100
- Total billable hourly rate: $75
- Money she should be making per month: $7,500
This hourly evaluation exercise led to a few revelations.
Revelation #1 – Caroline was already working a full schedule and certainly wasn’t making $7,500 per month.
Revelation #2 – This exercise showed her that there were inefficiencies in how she was managing her working hours. She realized she had been resistant to blocking off time slots on her calendar because it brought back memories of scheduling meetings and calls at a previous 9-5 job she didn’t enjoy. Our chat peeled back that layer and helped her understand she controlled her schedule now and could do it however she wanted. (This was critical!)
Revelation #3 – Hearing that she should be able to make $7,500 per month by working 25 hour weeks opened her eyes to the fact that she was wasting lots of hours every day in Internet blackholes (YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, social media sites, etc).
Revelation #4 – When she thought about increasing her hourly rate to $100 per hour, her potential monthly income would raise to $10,000. That was incredibly inspiring for her because it was absolutely achievable.
So what happened after that conversation? How did she start to manage time better?
I’m happy to report that shortly thereafter Caroline invested heavily in scheduling her working hours throughout her day. She didn’t use any fancy apps or tools, she simply used Google Calendar and Google Spreadsheets.
Her investment into her schedule greatly paid off in just a few short weeks. She went from making $1,500 – $2,000 per month in client work (and feeling stressed out) to double that number at $4,000 per month (and feeling in control)!
Was there still room for improvement? Of course. There always will be. But she increased her profits by 50% just by taking a hard look at how she was managing her working hours throughout her day/week.
Whether you own a business where you get paid by the hour or not, your time is money. You must understand that having an inefficient schedule is sucking the profits out of your business. All the hours you spend consuming content on the Internet (or doing things offline) could be invested in your business and help increase your profits.
I’d like to challenge you to do your own hourly evaluation exercise for your business.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a salaried employee or you get paid by the hour. I’d like you to take a VERY hard look at your schedule and write down a few numbers (not in your head, actually write these numbers down):
- How many hours you want to be working each week?
- How much you want or should be getting paid by the hour for your work (this is your “hourly rate”)?
- Multiply your total weekly hours by four, then multiply that number by your hourly rate (this is your “monthly income”).
- *For fun* Increase your hourly rate by 25% and see what your monthly income potential is each month.
When you have that total number take a look at it. Are you currently making that much money? If you are, great! Keep doing what you’re doing (although I think there’s always room for improvement, myself included). If you aren’t, don’t get upset or frustrated. Now’s the time to take look at your daily schedule and see how you can remove distractions and create more efficient working hours.
A couple additional tips for managing your time more efficiently…
1. Take a break from social media sites. If you feel like it’s hard to take a break from social media sites, or other Internet blackholes, download the (free) Self Control App and block those sites for a few hours each day. It won’t kill you to take a break from them and you’d be surprised how much work you can get done if you focus for a few uninterrupted hours.
2. Track your time. Use a fun (and free) time tracking tool like Toggl. If you have a project that you think will take 1 hour, use Toggl to see if your task really takes 1 hour. If it doesn’t, then you need to reassess your time estimation and workflow.
3. Record your screen for a full work day. This sound really weird, and I promise you don’t have to watch it back. But what this exercise can do is keep you honest about how often you’re drifting away from work into distractions. Think of this like self-imposed big brother!
4. Go analog with your to-do lists. I used to love using the newest and best to-do list app. But what I realized is that I’m much more efficient at to-do lists when I write them down in a notebook and can physically scratch them off. Here’s an article I wrote that goes more in-depth on this topic.
All of us have profits hidden in our daily/weekly/monthly schedule. We can all be better workers. Take some time today to reflect on your working schedule and find all the areas for improvement (and profit!).