I've never worked with a client yet who didn't feel pressured by too much to do and not enough time. This week is National Take Back Your Time Week, an initiative that's being pushed in both the United States and Canada. Tuesday (January 25th) is Better Business Communications Day, too. Seems to me that these two are related, so this week I thought I'd offer a few tips for entrepreneurs who need to gain control over their time, and how that can be helped by practicing better business communications.
Let's start with the thorny issue of having too much to do and not enough time. You have exactly two ways to help the issue resolve, and here they are:
1. Quit doing things for yourself, family, friends, and strangers that don't serve you or them well. This means that you are willing to take a hard look at what you are doing that takes both your time and energy but doesn't change things for the better. You believe that you must insert yourself into many situations that don't require you. You may, in fact, be hiding out doing things that don't serve yourself or others very well but keep you from doing the things you must do to build your business.
If you are one of those moms who are still doing the laundry all by yourself and everyone in your household is over 10 years old, you just might need to quit being such a domestic goddess. If the neighbor next door requires half an hour on the phone each day to complain about her husband, you just might need to quit being that listening ear. You get the idea. Sit yourself down and give yourself a talk that includes this sentence. “The world will not stop if I quit serving others in ways that waste my time and keep others from building their own capabilities to be independent.”
2. Quit doing everything yourself inside your business and personal life. This means that you are willing to dig around in your psyche and figure out why you think you must attempt to control every single thing in and around you. It also means you must disabuse yourself of the idea that no one else can do it sufficiently. (Notice I did not say perfectly. Sufficient is, well, sufficient.) If you are a business owner who still does your own bookkeeping, this might be where you are creating suffering about time and the lack thereof. If you won't let go of ordering supplies the same thing applies. Sit yourself down and give yourself a talk that includes this sentence. “I cannot do everything myself and I am being too controlling, unwilling to let go and delegate to others. I do this out of fear of failure, fear of not being perfect, and fear of feeling out of control.” Start believing in yourself and your business so that you come to understand that your time is valuable, and you are wasting it when you do tasks that don't directly contribute to the growth of your business.
Now, let's get to the Better Business Communications Day, which is being celebrated on Tuesday this week. Here are two ways to communicate that will bring you less conflict, better understanding, and, in the end, a better chance to increase your business.
1. Watch your tone. People want to be treated with respect. You can tell someone what you want them to do using a friendly, respectful tone and I guarantee you a greater percentage of what you say will be heard and acted upon.
2. Communicate often and let the people you interact with have a glimpse of your big vision. If you communicate only a big to-do list and not a big vision, the people who work around you won't be able to support your big vision for your business, because they won't see where that to-do list is going. So, rather than saying “this week you've absolutely got to catch up on the bookkeeping” you can say, respectfully, “Our business bookkeeping has fallen behind by nearly a month. I can't get a clear idea about our cash flow without up to the minute books, so I don't know if we can afford to buy that new copier you've asked me about. Can you catch the books up by noon on Wednesday? If so, let's have a brief meeting at 2:00 that day to see what the books say and I'll decide if we can get the new copier.”
You can take back your time and communicate about your business better all in one fell swoop. That's getting two things done at once, which seems like a great way to save time to me!