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Friday, Nov 15th

African startup advice series: why time is of the essence

African startup advice series: why time is of the essence.

Time is one of the commodities people in business never seem to have enough of. It’s the first excuse we use when things are not done.

But there are some simple facts about time. Time is absolute – there are 24 hours in a day and that will never change. We can’t “manage” time. What we can manage is what we do in that time. So time management issues are essentially self-management issues.

How we use time is one of the great determinants of how successful we are both as business owners and individuals. Everyone from Bill Gates to the small business owner is given the same amount of time each day – 24 hours. Successful people are those who learn how to drive their use of time the best.

We also know that time is money. So we think that the more time we spend working, the more money we will make. But it’s not about working more hours, it’s about how you spend those hours.

So how do you take control of your time?

Firstly, accept that there is no such thing as too much or too little time, but rather that there is enough time available for you to be successful. Take ownership of your situation, be accountable for your results and responsible for your actions.

Secondly, you need to identify your goals and determine the activities that will be necessary for you to accomplish that goal. What do I have to do? What time commitment will I make? What will I need to adjust, sacrifice, reduce, delegate in order to have the time to do the activities identified? What separates the successful users of time from the unsuccessful ones is the discipline and determination to obtain their goals no matter what.

Prepare your calendar each week by creating "appointments" to do the activities that you have identified will help you to grow your business and reach your goals. These must be defaulted into your calendar before anything else. Treat these as if the appointment was with your most important customer.

Be militant about your schedule. If you don't care how your time is being spent, why should anyone else? Learn to say "No".

Do you try and do everything yourself? If so, why? If you delegated, could you get more done? Although it can be very difficult to let some things go, it is the first step to mastering your time.

Successful people put a high value on their time. They don't waste it. They realise that time is their most valuable asset, and do everything they can to get the most out of each day. The things you know - your skills, talents, knowledge, and experience - have value and someone is willing to pay you for them. So when you're not fully utilising your skills, talents, knowledge, and experience, you are actually wasting money.

Work out what your time is worth, put a value to it and you will spend it differently. Once you know what your time is worth, you won't waste your valuable time sitting on hold waiting for someone to get off the telephone. You'll leave a message or call back later. You won't waste 15 to 30 minutes of your valuable time sitting in reception waiting for someone to complete his current meeting. Instead, you'll confirm your meetings before you leave your office and adjust your schedule if others are running late.

It’s time to stop blaming time!

Greg Mason is CEO and Business & Executive Coach at bizHQ. He writes columns for ITWeb Africa that provide advice for up-and-coming African technology businesses and startups. To find out more about Greg, be sure to visit his website: http://www.coachgregmason.co.za.


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