Read Time: 5 mins
By Swept CEO Mike Brown
“Either you run the day, or your day will run you.” — Jim Rohn
When I first started my cleaning business, my day was definitely running me.
It was so discouraging going home at the end of the day and feeling like despite being busy and working a reeeeally looooong day...
(which wasn’t really over, because I would no doubt receive texts and calls from cleaners throughout the night...)
I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything.
I didn't understand why I felt this way — most people don't.
It turns out it was because I was spending the whole day multi-tasking.
Shifting my focus back and forth between HR, marketing, sales — all the tasks in all the departments — and sometimes doing more than one at a time.
I used to be proud of my ability to multi-task.
Then I learned that multitasking is not only bad for business, it’s actually bad for your health.
According to this article published in Fast Company, “multitaskers become addicted to the instant gratification that comes after completing a small task, like sending an email. This leads to a dangerous feedback loop that leaves you believing you’re producing at optimal rate, but this is deceptive.”
A study at the University Of London found that people who multitasked experienced drops in their IQ comparable to someone who missed a night of sleep.
Meanwhile, other research has shown it can actually have lasting negative effects on your brain.
And then there’s the cost to your business — the switching cost.
But since I began working with my business coach Dan Martell, I've learned better techniques for managing my time.
The most important of which has been time-blocking.
Let me break it down for you.
Imagine your day is divided up into 15 minute blocks, and you need to spend 1 hour on any given task in order to complete that task. In other words, the task requires 4 blocks of time.
You with me so far?
Let’s say on this particular day it’s a HR-related task that’s going to take you 1 hour. Perhaps it’s writing a job description.
Here’s what the first 15 minutes of your day is going to look like:
So you sit down to work on the job description, but next thing you know your phone rings.
It’s a potential client looking for a quote, so you stop what you’re doing to take down their information.
You then try to go back to the job description, but someone from your team knocks on your door with a payroll issue that needs to be resolved by the end of the day, so you switch gears again to focus on that.
When you’re done you notice an email that you feel you should reply to right away.
Now you’re in your inbox, and we all know what a black hole that is!
Before your know it, your day looks like this:
You’ve been busy all day, but you haven’t actually completed any of your tasks.
And not only have you not completed them, but you’ve lost precious minutes each time you switched back and forth as you tried to re-focus on the original task at hand.
Instead, here’s what you want your day to look like:
So how do you make this your reality?
The act of intentionally dividing your schedule into sections and assigning each one a different task that you will commit to for the duration of that section.
It is easy to put this in your calendar, but the real trick is making sure you only work on the one area of your business so that you can really move it forward.
Here are some tips for time blocking:
1. Start delegating
Before you start cramming your to do list into neat little blocks in your calendar, here’s one more piece of advice:
Lighten your load.
One of the best business decisions I’ve ever made was hiring my virtual assistant, Tera.
Tera works remotely (ie. she lives in a completely different state) and takes care of all the tasks that would otherwise bog down my day.
I wrote a whole post about the decision to hire a VA (trust me, I didn't think it would work for me — an over-worked janitorial business owner,) and how she saves me a lot of time and stress each week.
2. Use technology
There are many time-saving apps and tools out there, but here are some of the most basic tricks you can use:
Block out your calendar. Here’s a photo of what an average day looks like for me:
Turn on your reminder notifications. Especially if you’re not in the habit of relying on your calendar — you’ll need these (on both your phone and laptop) to keep you on track.
Use email filters / inbox tabs (check out your email settings to find these options) to sort incoming emails so that you’re not being distracted by messages that aren’t priority.
Put your devices on “do not disturb” when necessary
>> Click here to more helpful strategies in the Time Management Tricks for Janitorial Business Owners video workshop <<
3. Get your team on board
When I say get your team on board, I don’t mean that everyone has to adopt time-blocking techniques (although how awesome would that be?!)
But what is important is that they understand why you’re doing it, and respect that decision.
Take the time to explain to your team why it’s important they avoid interrupting you during certain blocks (unless it’s urgent) and offer other blocks of time specifically for meetings and calls with them.
(Hint: don’t forget to let your VA schedule these for you, or use a tool like Calendly to allow people to book themselves in your available time slots themselves.)
4. Don’t beat yourself up
Even the most diligent time-blocker is going to get distracted, interrupted or sidetracked from time to time.
You know that screenshot of my calendar I showed you earlier? Well that was the "before."
(ie. before the reality of business set in, that is.)
Here’s the after:
And yet I’m still spending way more time working towards my goals and less time on “busy work” than I used to.
It’s important not to be too hard on yourself when things don’t go according to plan.
more tips & tricks
Time blocking is just one of many time management / business growth techniques I've learned from my business coach Dan Martell.
In other words, there’s way more where this came from.
Dan shared with me his entire High Performance Mindset system, and I’ve taken I have taking out the most impactful things for me as a janitorial business owner (the things I think will make a difference in your business too,) and packaged them up into a video workshop for you.
>> Click here to more helpful strategies in the Time Management Tricks for Janitorial Business Owners video workshop<<