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Time: Tips for Developing a 13-Month Year

Time! It can be your worst enemy or your best friend depending on how well you manage it. The successful business owner sees it as a precious asset.

Time in perspective
We all get the same allotment of 24 hours each day. For the disorganized, who squander their time, it is an enemy. But for those who know how to marshal their time and use it to their advantage, it is a good friend. It enables them to lope along at a comfortable pace all week, take weekends off to enjoy family time, and still accomplish more than the rest of the world.

Time offers a special challenge for the business owner. That's because the job appears never to be done. For some, each day is a flat-out race toward a finish line that never gets within reach, as they run themselves into the ground. Some suffer from burnout; others have heart attacks. It is no way to live, and it certainly is no way to run a business. For you as a business owner, time management is not just a nice idea. It is the cornerstone upon which your company's long-term success and your own well-being depend. Effective time management, self-management really, helps you build your business better, stronger, faster, and more profitably.

To improve both the quality and the quantity of the time available to you each working day:

  1. Do a "time audit." Record how you utilize a typical workday, using 15-minute intervals. This will help you identify time wasters.
  2. Establish priorities and measurable goals. If you don't know what you want to achieve, then it doesn't matter what you do to achieve it. Without priorities and goals, almost every action is a time waster.
  3. Eliminate busy work. These are tasks you simply don't need to do things that do not lead either directly or indirectly to your company's growth and profitability. Look for ways to cut unnecessary steps out of work routines. Working rule: If it isn't important, don't do it. Every action during work time should be goal-directed — whether it's a phone call to a supplier, business meeting, or a golf game. If it's not, stop doing it.
  4. Invest in daily planning. Ten minutes of mapping out projects and tasks on a daily "To Do" list can save hours of wasted time. Planning empowers you to move systematically through the important tasks of the day without wondering what to do next. Suggestion: Leave some time to handle the unexpected. Otherwise, you'll end up playing a frantic game of catch-up day after day.
  5. Delegate! Delegate everything you can, not simply what you must. Not only will you have more time for things that only you can handle, but your business will profit as well.
  6. Make a pledge to never work weekends or evenings. This forces you to structure your time more efficiently. Most of all, it allows you to enjoy the benefits of the life you are working to build.
  7. Live in two distinct worlds. When you work, focus all your attention on the business of business; maintain a strong, demanding pace. When you break from work, break completely. This means no briefcases home on weekends or even thinking about work when you should be relaxing. Instead, make your free time really free. This will improve the quality of both your work time and your family time.

Add time to your day
by cutting out such time wasters as television in the evening or coming in a bit earlier each morning. You'll be amazed how it can pay off. Try building what's called the 13-month year.

The 13-month Year
There's only so much you can do to make your time usage more efficient. Once you crank up the quality, add some quantity, as well. Let's say you currently work eight hours a day from eight to five, with an hour for lunch.

Add one extra hour each day. There are plenty of places to find 60 minutes without impacting your personal time. Start an hour earlier, stay an hour later, divide up two half hours at the start and end of the day, or just cut your lunch hours in half. Just make sure you don't slice into family time or weekends, which are crucial for recharging your batteries.

The results can be incredible. Adding just one hour a day gives you five hours a week or an average of 22 hours more a month. If you normally take four weeks vacation, this single hour each day can generate an extra month of business productivity, plus an additional two weeks vacation.

The Bottom Line
You don't have to become a time management expert to capitalize on the benefits of more effective use of your time. But keep in mind that the better you become at organizing yourself and your time, the more you will improve the odds that you will achieve your goals and keep your business productive and profitable. That's because time is more than money. Time — and how well you use it — is a key element of long-term business success and personal satisfaction.

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Time: Tips for Developing a 13-Month Year

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