Find Time to Invest in Yourself Personally & Professionally

Like many other small business owners, you’re probably wishing that there were an extra three hours in the day, or three more of you as you scroll down your list of to-dos. Particularly at this time of year (small business month) there are so many great events, seminars, workshops and conferences that you’d love to attend, but where do you find the time? Whether you are looking at events that are meant to develop yourself professionally or personally, the right workshop can offer great value for you and your business and can be well worth the investment.

Last month, The UPS Store Canada sponsored the MomBiz Retreat in Caledon, Ontario. MomBiz Retreats offer women entrepreneurs (who are also moms), the opportunity to focus and grow their businesses through coaching, training and networking opportunities in a unique and focused environment. Sharon Cole, a franchisee of The UPS Store network in Canada, and her daughter, Melissa, attended the event and were faced with that same dilemma: “How do I get away from my business in order to get better at my business?”

Time Management Techniques

One of the event workshops that Sharon and Melissa attended at the retreat was a personal time audit. Participants organized their available work time and work-related tasks into the following quadrants to see how they fared with managing their time efficiently:

  • Quadrant 1- All activities we do that make money (things we do that are billable)
  • Quadrant 2- Activities that lead to making money (networking, marketing etc – potential future billables)
  • Quadrant 3 – Activities that need to be done but don’t generate direct revenue (HR, IT issues, bookkeeeping, accounting)
  • Quadrant 4 – Activities that are time drains

The goal was to identify which daily and weekly tasks are revenue-generators and which are not. The attendees were then encouraged to look for ways to become more efficient by:

  • focusing most of work-time on quadrants 1 and 2 tasks
  • finding opportunities to outsource quadrant 3
  • being conscious of quadrant 4 and the things you do that do not benefit you at all

Stay Focused

Another key takeaway from the event for Sharon and Melissa was understanding the “Squirrel Effect.” This reference comes from the movie Over the Fence, where the squirrel character cannot finish anything because he gets sidetracked by everything (sound familiar?). Trying to manage everything often results in nothing getting accomplished and not completely reaching goals. Sharon and Melissa learned to keep a “Squirrel Book” – a notebook where they can jot down any new and amazing ideas before returning to the task-at-hand, thereby preventing them from being pulled away from completing the important thing they were doing. Effectively, a squirrel book will help you to stay focused and avoid distractions. You can look at your notes at a time when it is more productive.

The Result

“When the opportunity to attend the retreat first came up, I was concerned about what would happen to my business without me. I had to worry about my customer’s projects, staffing…you can imagine,” Sharon says. “It was worth the investment. Even on Day 1, I was inspired. I left the event with renewed energy and feel less stressed just knowing with proper planning and organization I can achieve an enjoyable business and personal life.”

What a great takeaway! Sharon’s renewed vigor and focus was a direct result of her committing her time to remove herself from her business in order to invest in her business. Look for events and workshops that are a good fit for you and your business, and challenge yourself to make the timing work for you. With the right planning and commitment, you’ll find it’s well worth the investment.

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