As a business owner it is vital that you understand how long things take. Without this skill you can end up stressed out and broke! Being conscious of time is a skill that has to be developed
When you don’t have a good grasp of how long activities take you can get into all kinds of trouble:
- Over estimating jobs and losing business because of it
- Underestimating jobs and losing money because of it
- Being over committed and stress out
- Being under committed and stressed out
- Never knowing when to say No
- Missing deadlines and defaulting on commitments
To be successful you need to have a good idea of how long things will take.
This is true for large projects where you need to consider overall timeframes as well as planning the various aspects. When you take on a large project you generally have to agree a deadline (whether your own or someone else’s). To understand whether that deadline is realistic or unachievable you need to consider all the elements that will fit together to make that project work. You also need to have a good feeling for how long each step is going to take, and what contingency you need to build in. If you don’t have a feel for this, your estimates will be off and your deadlines will be meaningless.
It is also true of the small stuff where time can slip through your fingers. Think for example of the last time you did an internet search, or some social networking. You may have gone in thinking it would only take a few minutes, but it ended up taking a lot longer than you thought. Multiply that by the numerous small tasks on your plate every day and it can soon get out of control.
“It will only take two minutes!” This is a phrase to watch out for. If something does truly only take two minutes than you should certainly just get it done, but if it is really going to take 5 or 10 minutes you may want to plan it in with other similar tasks.
So, how can you tell if you have a good handle on how much time things take?
You need to test yourself.
Doing this on a regular basis gives you a number of benefits
- Your estimates get more accurate
- Your work rate increases as you try to beat your time
- You begin setting realistic deadlines
- You put less pressure on yourself
- You recognize that you are completing tasks and get the satisfaction that brings
- You recognize where your limits are and are empowered to say No when you need to
When a business owner understands how they use time and how long tasks take them they are in control of their business, meet their deadlines and keep their customers happy. So, whip out your stop watch and find out just how tuned in you are.