Expert advice: Honing time management, an essential business skill
You can always earn more money, but you can never earn more time. How good are you at managing your time, asks Marie-Louise Coster.
I am not sure if it is something that comes to you as you get older, when you look ahead and wonder if there is more life behind than there is in front and the fear of running out of time becomes very real. There is still so much to do, so much more to achieve, but how much time is left?
The reality is that we don't know, there is no warning, one day there just won't be any more time, but what if you aren't finished and what if you had more to do?
I remember reading a quote somewhere once about how the person who died this morning had plans for tonight. There is always more time needed and more we want to do, but the truth is we will eventually, properly, run out of time altogether.
That sounds really morbid doesn't it? I'm sorry. The thing is, it is true.
If you add up all of that time you spent scrolling on Facebook, liking pictures on Instagram, Googling what you have seen some actress or another in before, being angry about the person who cut you up on the roundabout, stalking someone on social media, doing things you just didn't want to do, stressing about things beyond your control, how much extra time would you have had and what could you have done with it?
You can always earn more money, but you can never earn more time. And because of this it absolutely enrages me when people waste my time, waste their own time, and when I waste my own time, because I am never getting it back. I can waste money on something I don't end up wearing or using, it's annoying, but I don't care, I will earn more money and won't miss the money I wasted, but I will always miss the time I wasted.
Time management is an essential business skill, and I would argue that it is an essential life skill.
So how can you manage your time effectively?
Lists, lists, lists!
I am a lover of a list! I always have a planner on the go. There is my overall annual planner that has things mapped out on it such as business focuses, i.e. product of the month, treatment of the month, in salon events etc., when things are due like tax bills etc., holidays and school holidays, new product or treatment launches, promotions, special occasions such as Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas, local events and occasions and so on.
This annual planner will be compiled the year before so my annual planner for 2023 would have been put together in October 2022 when I tend to be a little bit quieter and have the time. I will set aside a morning, or afternoon, and get the job done. It will be added to, no doubt, but the basis of it is there.
In addition to this I have a weekly planner. I am an old fashioned girl, I like paper and pen. I have a book with weekly planners in, but you can easily draw one up yourself in a notebook, or on an iPad if you are a bit more advanced than me! I have a column for each day of the week including the weekend that runs vertically, and then each column is divided horizontally so as I have lots of boxes where I can write each task that needs to be done that day. Equally, you could just write a list under each day.
On a Sunday night I sit down and write down all of the things I need to do that week and allocate each job to each day of the week that it needs to be done. If for any reason I haven't managed to get everything done - which happens because you end up squeezing another client in, or someone is late and so on - it gets circled and has to be done the next day.
Sunday night is also my night for scheduling Facebook posts for the week ahead. I don't have the time or the inclination to do this daily, so I schedule my posts for the week ahead so as the page can just keep drip feeding information, discussion starters etc. I do also do an ad hoc Facebook live here and there when I have a spare five minutes and have some information I need to share.
Give yourself a time limit for each task. Writing Facebook posts can't take six hours. Doing a stock take or placing orders can't take half the day. You need to be strict with your time and set realistic time limits for each task.
Block out distractions
Shut yourself away, turn off your phone, turn the TV off, don't check your own social media and just focus on the jobs you have tasked yourself with.
Utilise your staff and give them jobs and responsibilities. Staff want to be more involved, it is a team effort and it is everyone's responsibility to make the salon a success. So give staff responsibilities and tasks and share the load. This will free up a lot of your time allowing you to do other things.
Get yourself into an organised routine. Make an hour every day, or every Thursday afternoon, or whenever works for you and your business, and have this as your uninterrupted time to get your jobs done. Plan, prioritise and utilise your time effectively. Never, ever waste it.
Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Session Nail Tech, Trainer and Business Consultant, with 25 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Training School is AIT-accredited.