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Some business owners are so busy with tasks and duties that they lose the general vision of their enterprise. They exert much energy trying to do everything now, but forget about steering in the right direction.

In working with business owners I constantly see two key factors that limit the business owner’s vision when scheduling their own time.   The first is related to the urgency of the tasks.  Many people tend to focus their attention on the urgency of tasks rather than on the importance.

Most urgent tasks that must be performed are related to something important that was previously not done or neglected. The reasoning seems to be “I have no time for important tasks because I have more urgent ones.”  We neglect an important task until it becomes an urgent one. The real challenge is that a neglected important task actually becomes many urgent tasks, rather than one.

It is like preferring to bail water from a boat rather than first plugging the hole. Or even worse, it is wanting to plug a boat’s leak rather than performing maintenance to simply avoid the problem.

The second factor in correctly scheduling time is the owner’s understanding of his function in the business.  If the business owner made an organisational chart of his enterprise, and then placed himself where he is working, he would notice that he does not work only in different areas, but also moves between different levels. Sometimes he may act as a manager, technician, or assistant or other times an assembly line worker.

Hiring fewer people and personally performing many tasks may save money in the short-term, but two drawbacks result from this action:

  1. Most operational tasks demand more time than those that are directive. For example: a director can dedicate a couple of hours to define a plan, which will take days or even weeks to implement by staff.
  2. Performing the job of a driver and a stockroom assistant yourself is equivalent to paying them the same wage as a General Manager and therefore it’s too expensive.

So if you have a flood of tasks, which are very operational in nature and mainly urgent, here is a very simple exercise for you to try:

Firstly, list the tasks that you usually perform in a week. Then estimate the time each task needs per week. Next, identify which of these tasks can only be done by the owner, which ones need a manager, which may be done by a technician, and which ones only require a helper or assistant. You must delegate the most operative tasks, even if you have to hire someone. The objective is to remove tasks in order to give yourself an extra free hour each day in your agenda. By removing these distractions, you remove any excuse not to spend at least an hour of planning each day.

Remember that planning not only gives you control of your business, but also of your life.

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Have a great week,

Peter