It’s “what we want most but what we use worst”
And one of the questions I often get from practice owners on the topic of time is around how to best structure your day to allow time to work ON your business.
Because if you want to be able to implement the latest tech, focus on marketing, or develop new systems and processes, then you need to find the time do it. You need time to work ON your business.
So, with that in mind, here are 3 ways to structure your day to allow time to work ON your business and achieve your goals:
1. Accept that you won’t find time right away
If you’re like many of the practice owners that I speak to, or even like many of my clients when they first start working with me, then I’m guessing right now you’re working anywhere from 40-70 hours a week completely IN your business.
You’re the owner and the operator.
And if this is true, then the first thing that you need to accept is that right now you won’t find time in your day to work ON your business, no matter how hard you look.
But that’s only because you’re looking in the wrong place…
You see, right now, if you’re truly stuck working in your business, then it’s highly unlikely you’ll miraculously find a few hours a week extra during normal working hours and inside your normal working environment. This time and space is already at full capacity.
So, you have to look outside:
- Outside of your normal working hours
- Outside of your normal working environment
- Away from all of the normal working distractions
I’d recommend starting with 2-hour slots either before or after work, at the same time every single week away from your normal office environment. You’d be surprised just how much can be achieved in 2 hours if you sit down with a proper plan of attack.
And I can hear you screaming at me already, “But Rudi, I’m already working flat out, I can’t work any more hours”, and I completely appreciate that because it’s a place I’ve found myself in many times over the years as well.
But something I’ve learnt is that in order to make greater long-term results, you need a few short-term sacrifices.
So if I told you that in 12 months’ time, you could go from working 60 hours a week to just 40 hours a week, but in order to do that you have to wake up 2 hours earlier every Friday, and work from home for 2 hours, completely ON your business before going into the office, would you do it?
I know the answer is yes…
2. Don’t structure by day, structure by week
Here’s another counter-intuitive one…
If you want to structure your day to work in your business, then you need to start by structuring your week.
And my #1 tool that I use, my clients use, and even Sir Richard Branson uses, is a default diary.
A default diary is a plan of the specific times each week you have allocated to do different things.
For example, your Tuesday, every single week, might look like this:
- 07am – 9am: 2 hours working on business from home
- 9am – 9:30am: Travel into office
- 9:30am – 9:45am: Daily huddle with team
- 9:45am – 10:30am: Clear email inbox & return client calls
- 10:30am – 1pm: Review client work
- 1pm – 1:30pm: Lunch
- 1:30pm – 4:00pm: Sales/new prospect meetings
- 4:00pm – 5:00pm: Clear email inbox and return client calls
Notice how during that day you’re not returning emails and calls as and when they come in. You have allocated times for it. Same with meeting new prospects, it happens during an allocated time.
You want to share this with your team once created and if you have a PA, make sure that all calls and appointments are booked in as per your default diary.
Following a default diary requires discipline, but so does anything if you truly want to succeed.
Will you stick to this 100% of the time? No, probably not. Life happens and things come up. But even if you managed to stick to it 60% of the time, that’s a 60% improvement on where you’re at right now.
3. Always have a plan of attack
Once you have freed up time and structured your week with dedicated time slots to work ON your business, then you need a solid plan of attack.
You wake up early and get ready to start your 7am-9am work from home session. You sit down and wonder what it is you can work on. 45 minutes passes, and you can’t decide whether to do A or B. By the time 2 hours is up, you’ve probably done less than 60 minutes of actual work.
This is why having a plan is absolutely crucial.
And this plan isn’t just a scrap piece of paper with a few ideas scribbled down on. Your plan needs to be strategic and linked to your long-term business and personal goals.
So, here’s my suggestion:
- At the very least, you should have an annual plan with annual goals for your business (personally, my clients all have 5-10 year plans which we then break down into annual)
- From your annual goals, identify what your quarterly goals and targets are going to be
- Using your quarterly goals, you can figure out what your monthly focus areas are going to be e.g. if a quarterly goal is to reduce debtors by 20 days, your monthly focus in Month 1 might be to implement Practice Ignition, and in Months 2 and 3 your goals might be to move all existing clients onto the software
- And then from your monthly focus areas, you can break down once again into weekly & daily focus areas
Taking this approach means that everything you do is strategically linked to your long-term goals vs. pursuing a few short-term interests which might not have a great long-term impact.
This is the biggest change you need to make…
So, there you have it. In order to structure your day to allow more time to work ON your business you need to:
- Find time outside your normal working hours initially (this will free up time down the line)
- Start by structuring your week, not your day
- Have a clear plan of attack linked strategically to your long-term goals
And whilst all of these can, do and will work for you, there’s one big change that need to happen first…
And that’s a change in mindset.
Because right now, as the operator in your accountancy practice, you might be in the mindset that you’re an accountant and accountant’s only do billable work.
This needs to change.
You are not just an accountant, you are a business owner. And business owners don’t just do accounting work, they do everything else that comes with running the business regardless of whether its billable or not.
Once you make this shift in mindset, everything else will fall into place much easier.