Starting my trade show business while working a casual role and being the primary carer for three kids under 7 is far from ideal.
Childcare, kinder and school drop off conveniently positioned at different times of the day plays havoc with a mind that doesn’t handle interruptions well.
The casual job, mostly worked from home, helped the short-term income budget line but killed the balance I had in my life. The kids suffered, the business suffered and the casual job suffered.
I wasn’t doing anything justice
Let’s face it, us small business folk have a hard enough time trying to manage our time appropriately.
The daily struggle with how much time to allocate to different areas of the business hurts our heads. We often allocate our time based on want rather than need with tasks like making the website look prettier prioritised over making a cold call or preparing our next BAS!
So the schedule was a hectic one but we are all busy. I realised that busy was here to stay but I needed help with my time management.
So, I went down an unconventional path which proved to be very effective.
An unconventional path to time management
I put together a weekly planner in excel at the beginning of each week, which organised my time in half hour lots from 7am to 7pm. You can easily be forgiven for thinking, “Hang on, isn’t that just another task to add to my already out of control list?” But no, it helped me in several ways.
Firstly, I made sure I blocked out time for my kids which was the most important factor for me. This was time that I would spend uninterrupted with them and allowed me to be guilt free that I wasn’t doing work or monitoring social media. The kids would have their Dad back, physically and attentively. One surprising benefit was my realisation that my previous time-wastage (see: procrastination) habits didn’t disappear, I built breaks in to go and smell the roses (that’s a lie…I have no sense of smell) but you know what I mean…
A final benefit was my ability to track my hours for pricing reasons. Previously when I quoted a job, I would guesstimate the number of hours it would take. The actual hours taken varied considerably to what my guesstimate was. This then assisted me to both allocate a more accurate number of hours to future jobs, but also review the time taken and streamline things that were taking me too long.
Pretty soon flexibility was built in
Flexibility was built in. Meetings pop up. Kids get sick and need to be picked up early but the control it gave me over my time was quite mind-blowing.
Now, I must admit, the start of 2019 has been a little hectic and I have somewhat strayed from the structure which hasn’t been positive. I have decided to give away the casual work as the business is picking up and I need more focus on it. However, the weekly planner will return because the control and freedom it allows me far outweighs the 30 minutes it takes me on Sunday night to put it together (…and once you have the template, it takes even less).
The question is, are you too busy or is your time management up poo creek?
Russell McIntosh runs Trade Show Training, helping companies to receive a better return on their trade show spend.