The daily demands on your time – meetings, email, personnel management, etc. – can distract you and destroy your plans for a productive day. Before you know it, there is little time for the proactive tasks you had planned to pursue like following up with customers and collaborators, asking for referrals, reviewing your key performance indicators, goal setting and planning. Time management is a challenge for every business leader.

Filling your day with “busyness” instead of business can sabotage your chance of success. Be alert for these 3 warning signs to avoid that feeling of “Where has my time gone today?”

  1. Perfectionism: Striving for perfection and believing that no one else is capable of doing what you can is a delusion. It can paralyze decision-making, delay important projects and create chaos in your business. The 80/20 rule can be helpful managing this tendency. Ensure that 80 percent of your time and energy is focused on the 20 percent of work that is most vital to your business. Then, delegate the other tasks, monitor progress and adapt if you discover too many mistakes, but avoid resuming responsibility for these tasks.
  1. Lack of Planning: If you don’t make time to plan, it won’t happen. This is one responsibility that no one else in your organization can fulfill for you. Specify your goals and what steps you will take to achieve them in writing. Make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic & timebound) and ensure that someone is responsible for each goal. Develop your plans around three time frames: 3-year, 1-year (more details) and a rolling 90-days. Identify key performance metrics to help you monitor your progress.
  1. Lack of Measurement & Accountability: Monitor your chosen performance indicators and keep your staff advised about goal status. Without measurement of these metrics, there is no way to evaluate whether your investments in assets, marketing, technology and people are contributing to your goal achievement. The language of management is money. Know what your financials are trying to tell you about the health of your business and let that assessment drive your priorities about how to boost sales, cash flow or profitability.

Before you hold others accountable, look first to yourself. Who holds you accountable for your business decisions and actions? You may be “the boss” but that doesn’t ensure that people will commit themselves to achieving goals unless they are convinced that you are genuine in holding yourself as accountable as everyone else in the organization. If this concept of management is a challenge for you, then seek out a trusted advisor who can listen, guide, and help you to hold yourself accountable.

Identify which forms of self-sabotage could be inhibiting your success and create a written plan to improve your results. Track your progress daily and adapt your behaviors as you learn what is most effective for you.

How are you managing your time investment?

What steps could you take to make you time investment more proactive and productive?