Of the thousands of small business owners and leaders we speak to each year, one of the top questions my EntreLeadership team and I receive isn’t about hiring, firing, marketing, or any of the other numerous responsibilities an entrepreneur has to manage every day. It’s something much simpler: How do you run a company well without ruining your life?
The average business owner works 60-plus hours a week. No one can do that for long without life becoming complicated. Your health, family—and believe it or not—even your company will begin to suffer.
It used to be so frustrating to work my tail off all day, and feel like nothing happened. I’d get up early and head down to the office, have an entire day of fire after fire to put out, couldn’t remember what happened to lunch, and 12 hours later arrive home completely exhausted. My wife would ask, “What did you do today?” I’d think for a moment, shake my head, and realize I had no idea!
Most of us who are hard-driving go-getters have had that experience, and it makes you feel like a rat in a wheel—run, run, run…to nowhere. To enjoy our work, our businesses, we must have a sense of traction. When I began to intentionally apply a few, basic time management principles to my life, I started getting much more done at work, and strangely, I felt much more rested and at peace in my personal life, too. In a sense, managing time is like managing money. If you don’t make a plan for it, you’ll wonder where it went. Working without traction, without a plan, doesn’t relax you—it drains you.
I was teaching a lesson on time management a few years ago, when one of my leaders came to me afterward and asked, “Dave, do you know where the concept of seconds and minutes was developed?” According to him, prior to the 1300s man measured time only in hours using instruments like a sundial. Somewhere in the 1300s, mathematicians who were monks performed the calculations that now allow us to break hours into minutes and minutes into seconds. The monks did this mathematical work to enable themselves to more precisely worship God.
I believe managing time well, and viewing it as a precious and valuable commodity, should be a normal exercise in all aspects of our lives. What do you think?
Leadership and small business expert Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored numerous best-selling books, including EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by 16 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms.