It Takes Time to Make Time
What I Learned About My Business After Tracking My Time For 30 Days
Similar to other entrepreneurs, launching a business was my declaration of freedom. Freedom to authentically express my creativity. Freedom to have limitless income potential. And freedom to spend my limited time here on earth exactly how I wanted to. And thankfully, I live in a moment of history where the only limitations I have as a business owner are my imagination and the strength of my internet connection.
Oh, and how effectively I manage my time...
As Lori Greiner, entrepreneur and star investor on Shark Tank often says, “Entrepreneurs are the only people who work 80 hour weeks to avoid working 40 hour weeks.” If anyone tells you that they work less hours as an entrepreneur, they are either lying or delusional. Waking up at 5 a.m. and finishing my day at 10 p.m. is a common occurrence for me. My day can consist of photo shoots, writing, happy hour mixers, marketing campaigns, working with clients, and more… everyday is different and I love the variety in my schedule.
In fact, I’ve found that I am most productive when I’m not forced to adhere to a specific schedule and obsess over the time I spend on each project.
Or am I?
Was I Sacrificing Productivity In Effort to Retain My Freedom?
A couple of years ago, I came across a company called TSheets, the “#1 time-tracking app.” We first met on Twitter and then I connected with their team at an accounting conference. It seemed like a great product for companies with employees. But since I didn’t plan on hiring employees in the near future, I didn’t think too much about it.
However, as TSheets does, their branding draws you into their world and I found myself curious to learn more about them as a company. Their electric energy and passion is a refreshing addition to accounting conferences, and I fell in love with their team and mission to help others “be bold, be brilliant, and be badass.”
After a series of fortunate events, I connected with their Accountant Program Director, Kelly Bistriceanu, and decided to become certified as a TSheets PRO. As a certified user, I learned the ins and outs of the product and how it can help my clients. In order to recommend the product authentically, I decided to test it on myself for 30 days to see how it worked and how it could benefit my clients that are also solopreneurs.
OMG. Talk about resistance. I was not at all excited about tracking my time. To me, freedom is doing what I want to do and when I want to do it. And I’ve worked really hard to build a sense of freedom in my business. Just the thought of clocking in and out brought up a sense of dread within me. But, I like to be challenged, so I decided to view it as an opportunity to learn more about myself and habits.
It Takes Time to Make Time
The first thing I did was set a reminder within TSheets to clock in. Every morning at 10 a.m. I received an email to remind me to clock in. What a wake up call! I was usually already knee deep in work by 10 a.m., but had no idea how much time I had spent on any given activity.
The first week, I ignored the notifications. It seemed like such a hassle to take five seconds out of my day to clock in and clock out. Hmmm, telling.
The second week came around and I made a conscious effort to start clocking in. But then I had trouble remembering to clock out for my breaks and when I switched tasks. It still seemed like a huge hassle to break my concentration in order to clock in and out during the day.
By the third week, I started having a few a-ha moments. I realized that while I like having variety in my days, my schedule was too erratic to be efficient. I would leave assignments half-finished or I was easily distracted by emails. And I was grossly inefficient on some tasks (such as social media) and completely ignoring other key tasks (like sales).
Let me emphasize that point. Sales. The top line of every business. I did not carve anytime within my schedule to bring revenue into the business. Nor did I have a system in place to generate sales. Marketing, yes. Sales, no.
That’s when it hit me. Time is literally money.
Keeping Track of My Most Precious Commodity
Similar to the discipline I have cultivated to track my expenses when I do my books, I now needed to bring awareness to how I spend my time. Because time is something I will never get it back. Not using my time efficiently was like flushing hundreds down the toilet. Or the difference between being able to buy a couple of new pairs of Tieks or wearing flats from Payless. (No shade on Payless shoes, but they hurt my feet.)
After tracking my time for 30 days, I feel as if I have a much better handle over my schedule and my priorities. I realized that in order to take my business to the next level, I needed to devote more time to sales activities. Before, I had zero hours dedicated to sales per week. Now I spend two hours every morning on sales activities. And since I do not have any formal training in sales, I hired a sales trainer to help me put systems in place in order to improve my results.
With a better understanding of my priorities and goals, I created Financial Foundations for Coaches & Consultants. This will be my focus and signature training program for the remainder of 2016.
Now that I have one service offering as a priority, I can streamline my day, easily manage my current client relationships while continuing to grow my company’s revenues.
Thank you, TSheets, for the renewed sense of clarity and structure you gave me for my business. You are more than a time-tracking app, you are a business transformation tool.
Danetha Doe is a financial strategist for small business owners. She was selected as one of the Top 40 under 40 accounting professionals by CPA Practice Advisor in 2015. Her signature program, Financial Foundations for Coaches and Consultants, is a 6-week training course to help project-based solopreneurs learn how to easily track their income, expenses and tax liability on a daily basis.