02/03/2015 02:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Time Management Isn't the Answer


How many times have you heard that the secret to success is, "You need better time management skills?"

It's not uncommon advice in any sphere.

You may have even thought about it yourself.

  • "Gosh, I'm so flustered here. My time management skills suck."
  • "I'm so overwhelmed. Why can't I manage my time better?"
  • "I'm just too busy to manage my time. But I don't know how to fix this."

What if I told you that "time management" isn't the answer?

I know what you're thinking...but everyone says to be successful you have to have time management skills.

Here's the secret second part that nobody talks about.

When people use the phrase "time management," they really should be using the term "self-management."

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you start out wearing all the hats. You are the CEO, salesperson, marketing manager, accountant and whatever other hat applies to your business.

Most entrepreneurs have a vision to grow their businesses into their own definitions of "empire." But building your business should not look like an F-25 tornado ripped through your office. It shouldn't feel like you are working 24/7 and not enjoying the freedom of being your own boss.

So how do you achieve self-management?

Systems. Structure. Operations.

Instead of keeping yourself afloat without a system, create and apply systems to your business operations. Building systems will set the foundation for productive business operation. When your business is running efficiently and effectively on all cylinders, you have more time for yourself to business build or personal fun time.

How do you build systems?

This is a common question that I hear from the creative space. Creatives are great at coming up with visions and ideas, but you don't always know how to create systems around those visions and ideas.

Map it out

How does that idea get delivered?
Who touches it through the entire process?
This includes you, anyone on your team that creates or delivers service, how does the client receive it or interface with it.

What infrastructure supports it?

Break it down to the details.
When you sell a product or service, how does it flow from start to finish?
What happens after? Do you have a customer service system for after care?

What tools are you using in your business?

Do they talk to each other easily? If you work with a system that needs spreadsheet data, but the other system only kicks out a PDF, you are making a lot of work for yourself using systems that don't talk to each other.

I recently worked with a client who decided to add a customer service position to his remodeling business. The company created a job description in broad terms, but didn't create a process or operations manual on how that customer service position would operate.

After reviewing the job description and talking with the customer service representative, I created a detailed process and operations manual for that position.

Now let's look at this situation:

  • The Customer Service Representative has an operations manual that covers all the possible situations that might happen in her position that we could think of.
  • The systems she will use have been clearly documented
  • Additional systems that she needs to really rock her position have been recognized and communicated to the company leadership.

When you have created systems in place, and you use them, your business runs more effectively and that puts your business on the path to successful, and scalable, growth.

So stop the struggle. Rip the Band-Aid off and create the systems. Once they're there, you'll never know what you did without them.