FORGET TIME MANAGEMENT! It’s All About Effectiveness

FORGET TIME MANAGEMENT! It’s All About Effectiveness

Time is our scarcest resource. It is the only thing we can’t make more of. We can’t buy time, we can’t grow it, bottle or store time and we can’t stop it or slow it down.  This not a new dilemma. Some two thousand years ago, Lucius Seneca wrote: 

“You must vie with time’s swiftness in the speed of using it.”

We are all given the same amount of time. Like Michelle Obama, Mother Teresa, Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey we all get twenty-four hours, no more, no less. Greatness or success is not a function of how much time we have available to us. The challenge for artisan small business owners is to use time wisely, in such a manner that it has the greatest impact on their business. Makers place great value on being efficient, which means they strive to do things well without waste of time, money or other resources. That IS important.

Effectiveness, however, is even more crucial to success. Different from being efficient, which is generally described as ‘doing things right’, effectiveness is defined as ‘doing the right things.’ It is about achieving tangible results that move the maker business forward. For example, finding ways of creating a batch of 25 ear-rings faster and cheaper can be a great idea. It will curtail production cost, and increase profit margin.

However, if the ear-ring design is out of fashion and not sellable, your product will not generate revenue, regardless of how efficiently you worked. A better, more effective, approach would be to first research which ear-ring designs are selling the best. Afterwards one can determine how to reduce production cost and increase production speed. Check out this video for additional details.

Below is a tool adapted from a quote by Eisenhower. Commonly called ‘The Eisenhower Matrix” it helps you doing the right things with your time – and be more effective.

With the matrix you can identify the most important tasks for your business using the criteria ‘important’ / ‘unimportant’ and ‘urgent’ / ‘not urgent’. Most of your time should be spent on the tasks in the two upper quadrants, i.e. ‘urgent’ + important, and ‘important’ + ‘not urgent’. Top entrepreneurs spend up to 75% of their time on tasks in the two top quadrants.

 As an example for ‘urgent’ + ‘important’, consider this situation:

One of your customers is interviewed by a local TV crew at a craft show and trashes the product he just bought from you. This is a threat to the health and future of your business. You need to take action immediately.

 As an example for ‘important’ + ‘not urgent’ think of running out of supplies to make your product. You probably (hopefully) have enough inventory to last until you get new supplies. It might not be necessary to order new supplies immediately, but to do so soon is essential, because you can’t generate revenue without products to sell.

The lower two quadrants show common time management traps. Avoid spending time in them, at almost any cost. Quadrant III shows examples of activities that others impose on us, because it seems important to them.  Keep in mind that what appears imperative and pressing to them may not be so for the success of your business. Activities in quadrant IV are the worst threats to effectiveness. Everybody ends up there on occasion. But when you do so, it should be outside of your work-time.

 We are all are deluged by emails and notifications from Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and messenger services. Very few of us were trained how to deal with the information overflow of the last ten or so years.  Joshua Zerkel, productivity expert and Evernote’s Director of Global Community, says:

“No one is formally taught how to focus in meetings, how and when to check email and when to look at the countless notifications we get every day. As new technologies emerge, it becomes harder and harder to catch up, because most people are struggling enough to navigate the existing chaos.”

The Eisenhower Matrix will help. It is a very robust tool for determining where to invest time into your maker business. The matrix is simple, time-proven and works just as well on a napkin as on the latest mobile device.

Give it a try !