Running a business can make you feel like you have to wear many hats at once. You may juggle various tasks, from managing finances to customer service, sales, marketing and getting projects built.
As a business owner or manager, you may understandably feel responsible for getting everything done. However, trying to do it all yourself is tiring and can be counterproductive. To be efficient and productive, learn to prioritize your time, focus on the duties only you can perform and delegate tasks to others. This will allow you to become more productive at work and begin to create a better work-life balance.
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that if you want it done right, you must do it yourself. It may be true in some cases, but it probably isn’t a sustainable model for running and growing a business. When we switch between our various duties, we mentally hang up one hat, and as we put on the next one, we must change to that task’s mindset. But too many wardrobe changes can be exhausting and inefficient.
You can use the technique of block scheduling, also called calendar blocking, to build a productive daily and weekly schedule that enables you to have focused, specific time to work on the critical duties and tasks. Combined with effectively delegating the work others can complete, it will make for a more productive week for you. There is still flexibility for the unexpected fires that will pop up, and block schedules can be fluid and change from week to week.
How do you spend your time?
Getting started with block scheduling is relatively easy. A great place to start is with a time study—auditing how you currently spend your time during a typical week. For more information on conducting a time study, read my February 2022 ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR column, “Engineering the Most Productive Day.”
Gaining a clear picture of how you spend your time will allow you to determine what tasks or duties you must do yourself and which ones you can delegate.
Once you have determined what duties only you can complete, prioritize the most important tasks and identify any that are time-sensitive or have specific deadlines. These tasks could include reviewing time sheets, standing meetings (interoffice or project-related) or approving payables. For example, if payroll needs to be run by noon on Tuesday, it doesn’t make sense to block out time on Wednesday afternoon to review the time sheets.
The time-sensitive blocks are the first ones to create on your schedule, so in this case, you could create a block of time for reviewing time sheets every Monday morning from 9–9:30 a.m. Set a recurring appointment for this time each week in your digital calendar. I’d suggest limiting the recurrence to six months so you are prompted to reevaluate and make adjustments to your schedule.
After adding any time-sensitive blocks, look at the other tasks you frequently tackle. Such tasks may include responding to emails, working on estimates, preparing submittals or any number of routine tasks. For responding to emails, maybe you block out 8:30–9 a.m. and 3:30–4 p.m. daily. Other than these times, I recommend turning off the inbox notifications, which will help eliminate the temptation to click on the pop-up whenever you hear the ding for new messages.
Does multitasking pay off?
Remember that block scheduling aims to create dedicated time to focus on priority tasks and not lose productivity from trying to multitask.
While it is easy to think we can accomplish more by multitasking, numerous studies show otherwise. Switching from hat to hat reduces our productivity and can lead to errors and mistakes or things falling through the cracks.
Block scheduling benefits your professional life and can help create a balance between work and home. Adding blocks of time to your schedule for personal and family time is just as important. Doing so will help you keep work at the office and allow you to be present at home.
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