Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:36 pm
Early in my career I really struggled with managing my time. There simply was never enough time in the day for me to help in all the areas that needed it—or that I thought needed it.
I was the CEO and co-founder of a growing aerospace business called EMTEQ. My day would consist of checking over 200 emails, returning phone calls and working through a task list that never ended. Some of these tasks consisted of handling the day-to-day management to make sure things got done, problems got solved, and that all stakeholders were taken care of.
When you are a business owner or founder, you are naturally involved in many things. You know the ins and outs of the company, the products, the customers, the supply base and systems better than most. I became so good at these day-to-day tasks and problem-solving that, for me, it was an adrenaline rush and an accomplishment. Some call this firefighting and it made my job feel very rewarding.
I eventually ran out of time to do what was needed to grow EMTEQ. I was running a command and control operation. When managers were put into place, I didn’t delegate and trust them to do their jobs. When you have managers but you are making every hiring and firing decision like I used to, this should be a huge red flag. I quickly realized that I would be more effective by delegating and empowering my staff.
Some changes had to be made. Over time, I turned to business coaches to help us improve our operations. I came to appreciate continuous improvement, deployment and business management tools. They just needed to be applied to our business processes.
With a goal to save time, you have to plan and think about what could be worked on and how it brings back the most value. The reality is that every day consists of planned and unplanned activities. This is OK, but you need something to fall back on when that unplanned activity is completed.
At EMTEQ, that something was the Single-Page Plan. We created this business plan to include only our vision, mission, initiatives and goals for the year. We communicated it and made sure the employees understood it.
This plan made it possible for everyone to align their major tasks and activities with the company’s initiatives. It helped me prioritize my schedule and think twice about firefighting. Instead of answering 200 emails per day, I would think about what I needed to focus on – and attend to those matters first. As the leader, I started to eliminate my activities from problems that held minimal value. I started to become really conscientious of the ROI of all I did.
Our Single-Page Plan was simple, focused and became the roadmap to growth. Instead of completing everything that went across my desk, I only did what was outlined on the plan. Similarly, the leadership team and our vested stakeholders would work together to achieve our goals. With everyone working towards the same plan, there was less time spent on non-value-added activities.
Throughout the year, we implemented a deployment process to keep everyone focused on the plan. We would schedule and define our meetings at the beginning of the year. When meetings are defined, they become more efficient and less frequent! These meetings allowed us to come up for a breath of fresh air, strategize, hold each other accountable and modify how to execute towards the plan. After all, the plan for your business will likely change throughout the year.
Between meetings, we would enforce accountability through our Must Do/Can’t Miss boards which propelled growth and employee engagement.
If this article speaks to you, just remember that it’s OK to not know where to go next when it comes to saving time. It took EMTEQ years to perfect the Single-Page Plan and its execution cycle. My advice is to use a system that works for you.
Free up your time to work on the critical items that will push your business forward. Your growth will happen when you align your people and processes to a strategy.