I have a somewhat shocking observation to make.
If this is you I hope you won’t take offense. But here it is.
That we have limited hours in a day, and only so much cash in the bank, is a reality most commonly ignored by the average entrepreneur.
I so wish that weren’t the case. But the evidence is just too convincing.
Ideas that never leave paper, incomplete projects, burned out managers, overdrawn bank accounts, and spent emotions tell a story all too familiar to the average business owner pursuing their dream.
If time is money your calendar could well be bankrupting you.
The problem is that there is only so much of you to go around. And the typical entrepreneurial venture demands most of it.
Quite literally you could be headed for bankruptcy because of your schedule and work habits well before your bank account ever let’s you know.
As with the expenditure of money, the ways entrepreneurs use their hours and minutes are habitual. And as with any habit, an entrepreneurs use of time can be changed. It all begins with managing not just your time, but your attention and focus as well.
Here are three simple ways to begin managing these mental resources differently as an entrepreneur.
Create a Focus Budget
Just like a financial budget, look ahead at your week and month and decide now how much focused time you’ll need to complete the projects most important to you and your venture.
The operative word here is complete. As in done. Ready to ship. In the books.
It is only through completed projects that value is created and money is exchanged.You could be working on a dozen things, complete none of them, and go out of business being an extremely busy person. That really would not be much fun at all.
The project could be a product, a sale, a personnel matter, a website update, or new terms and conditions. It could be anything so long as its completion advances your business in the most important ways to its long term health.
But budget to complete things…not to be busy with things. Flitting from project to project will put your venture in great jeopardy. Your budget is your plan – whether its for your money or your time.
Watch your Time Flow
Following that same financial metaphor, your use of time is akin to your use of cash.Cash flow is everything to a business. So too is your time in working on value-creating projects. Like cash, time get’s away from us if we don’t keep an eye on it.
Review where your hours have gone each day and week to identify frivolous uses of time such as being tethered to email or tweaking that product plan for the twelfth time. Look out also for time thieves, who masquerade as meaningful projects and activities but in reality can side track you faster than you can check email.
Ask yourself – how much time did I spend working on the projects in my Focus Budget? The answer could be eye-opening.
Exercise Your Attention Muscle
Your attention – the act of being present (in attendance) is a precious commodity.Our media saturated lives have depleted more of it than you may realize. Attention can never be on autopilot. It relates to how you focus all of your mental faculties on conversations, decisions and actions.
Within a given period of time, you render your attention to get things done. Or else you don’t. It really is that simple.
I would suggest that you treat your attention as the most important asset you possess. If you give it away when you are not looking, you’ll not have enough of it when you need it.
Attention is similar to a muscle. The more you exercise it the stronger and more resilient it becomes. If you fail to strengthen it, over time it will atrophy. If you are not convinced, go binge watch all six seasons of Parks and Recreation over the next month. Then check back with me and see if you don’t feel like you just ate McDonald’s for every meal.
(Personal Disclosure: I’m a big fan of P&R and enjoy McD’s fries. I know well the dangers of both.)
Of course there are several attention deficit disorders that make this exceedingly difficult for some. Especially in the creative ranks. Yet the discipline of attention is essential to completing those projects that will sustain your business. It’s well worth the exercise to build it up.
Each of us do have limited resources. The ones we have the most control over reside in between our ears. It begins with how we choose to manage not just our time but our attention and focus as well.
The good news is that we don’t have to travel far to find either.