Ask any business owner what their biggest worry is, and chances are, they'll say it’s money. With families to feed, products to move and employees to pay, the money that's coming in and going out is always top of mind.
But what they should really be more concerned about is the limited amount of time they have to accomplish all the things they need to do each day.
Time Is Not on Our Side
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” —Theophrastus
Let’s not diminish money’s role and importance in our business—it’s incredibly important! By definition, a business’s primary goal is to make money. But in theory, money is a resource that can always be earned or traded for. Time is the only resource we need that can’t be manufactured—it can’t be earned, traded for or even stolen.
Once we wrap our heads around how valuable our time is, we begin to view our businesses differently.
If time is your most valuable resource, then the way you spend your time reflects what's truly important to you and your business. For example, since most business owners think money is their most important resource, it's not surprising that organizations have such detailed budgets. They spend countless hours creating their operating budgets. Expenses are itemized and thoroughly accounted for. There are literally dozens of layers of inspection and accountability when it comes to a company’s usage of money.
But what about time?
The Truth About Time at Work
Software development firm Atlassian created a brilliant infographic about time wasted at work. It shows that the average employee spends 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings and two hours per day recovering from distractions.
Think about all the ways your time is eaten up each day in communication alone—phone calls, text messages, emails, instant messages, meetings, conferences, social media. Frankly, the list is endless.
Yet individuals hardly pay attention to how much time is consumed by these activities, and perhaps that's because businesses have yet to put a premium on time management. Ask any marketing manager the ROI they receive on their ad campaigns, and they’ll quickly rattle off dollar amounts. But ask a business owner the ROI they achieve on the employee hours worked, and you’ll likely get a blank stare.
A Relationship With Time
It’s not that people don’t understand the benefit of time management. Because we know we should be making the most of our time, the time management industry is absolutely huge: There's time-tracking software, calendars, books, daily planners, time management seminars, and on and on—not to mention all the books and tools that help you manage your time.
But I think therein lies the problem: Businesses view time management as an individual responsibility, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’re paying employees for their time, so you should help them use that time wisely.
How you manage your time is crucial to the success of your company, and it should be audited and tracked just as you track your expenses. If you have employees, the same holds true for them.
Since many of us reading this article use a computer most of the day, one helpful tool might be RescueTime. RescueTime tracks what you did throughout your day on your computer, as well as offline activities such as meetings and calls. By reviewing the detailed reports RescueTime provides, you’ll start to gain insights into where your time went throughout your day.
From top to bottom, time is the scarcest resource in your business. The good news is, once you start viewing time as the valuable resource it is, you can start changing your perspective on things such as meetings, calls, emails and other distractions, and understand how critical they are to your bottom line.
Read more articles on productivity.