"You might be very good at what you do, but how good are you at business?"

Managing time or seepage?

We know we cannot manage time – it just creeps past and sometimes even flies and before we know it, it has gone. Gone for good. You can’t get it back or save it up or stash it away or borrow from tomorrow so in a lot of ways you cannot manage time. What you can do is make better use of the time you have but even that is a challenge for some of us. If you are a working parent, running a business, leading a team, dealing with a difficult client, doing your accounts, constantly juggling and running to keep up – just the idea of “making better use of time” can be insulting. You are doing your best for heaven’s sake! Gah!!!

Over the years I have been a working Mum, at the same time a housewife, business owner, dog parent, Charity volunteer, daughter, sister, friend and general nuisance. I have read books like “How to have it all” and attended training on “Planning and prioritising” and bought the latest “Diary Management Tool” but still I felt at times like I was spinning, and often smashing, lots of plates AND it just didn’t feel good.

I was always running late to get anywhere as I would “just send this email so that it is done” or “just nip to Asda to pick up some milk” or “just run the dog round the block so that he’ll settle” or “just update the social media piece for the rescue” … and then I would be late. Arriving at my next commitment apologising, feeling frustrated, angry with myself for “being late again”, making a vow to not let this happen again, beating myself up for being so rubbish at managing time. Not a great state to be in when you have plates to spin! Then it struck me. What I was doing was I was allowing one area of my life to run into another – cross the divide, seep gradually over time, leak, invade, take over, run amok ….

I began to notice the same seepage with my clients – clients who had to postponed coaching sessions because they were pushed for time, or couldn’t get out to do their marketing or they hadn’t had chance to update their business plan or book that meeting with the bank or ….. “stuff” had demanded their time and attention and got in the way.

In that situation they cannot create more hours in the day – it’s not possible – they would struggle to deny their client the time he demanded – they would suggest people would “think badly of them if they didn’t update their Facebook page with the dogs that week” – putting themselves and the needs of their business in second or even third place.

I am now a lot older, wiser and more assertive. I now realise that actually whilst you cannot manage time, it’s about managing boundaries. It’s about allowing an area of your life to have a certain proportion of it and protecting the other areas from seepage. It’s about working out your priorities, and these might shift over time and that’s OK – and allocating a day, a percentage of time, a system to them and then, the hard bit, STICKING TO IT! It’s about self discipline and with good cause. It’s about making sure that you recognise the boundaries and respect them.

To do that you might need to have some Confident Conversations. You might need to take some time out to decide what your priorities are and why. You might need to have a word with yourself and get some discipline in place. You might have to put on your Big Girl Pants and deal with it!

It’s about saying “My priority right now is to get this cash-flow forecast sorted because the consequences are …. therefore, I will not start replying to emails half way through which might distract me” – if that is your seepage.

Or “My priority today is to enjoy a walk with my family and MY dogs and therefore I am going to leave my work phone at home so that this precious time is protected”.

It might be saying “Whilst I would love to come to Crufts with you and just wander round the shops, I need to allocate specific time there to network with other professionals and build positive relationships?”

Big Girl Pants. I recommend them a lot. They come in Boy’s sizes too. It’s about being clear, bold and brave, sticking to your boundaries and conducting Confident Conversations so that others a) get it and b) respect it.

There may well be times when you have to switch quickly, totally understood – my kid has fallen from a great height at a gym competition, meeting with a vet to discuss my offer with his clients has to end whilst I rush to my REAL priority – as a parent – totally understandable and permissible or “Sorry kids, we can’t go for pizza after the cinema but we can pick up a take away on the way home” – kids need to learn about boundary management too and you’ve committed to updating your website content this evening!

Managing boundaries rather than managing time is do-able. Managing yourself underpins it all though. What areas of your life invade others? What leakage or seepage takes place? Where does one area sneakily steal time from another? What might you CHOOSE to do differently to feel and function better.

Right, time to sign off – aforementioned dog needs a walk and he has to be back for 2.30 as it seems that’s his squirrel watch time …. boundaries eh?

If you’d like to find out more about boundary management, plan and prioritise, take back control and develop the skills and confidence to have those Confident Conversations, I would love to help. I offer one to one coaching sessions by telephone or Skype to dog business owners who want to develop themselves and their business. Full details of how I can help you build a sustainable and successful business are here www.caninebusinesscoach.co.uk

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