Struggling with time management?

Is your hair on fire? Does your mind reel with all you have to do? Mine does. It’s hard, as a business owner, to triage everything as it comes at you. So many just address the task that is either on fire or squeaking the loudest. Before you know it, the sun has set, and you have no idea what you have accomplished. Your to-do list from last night begins to colonize in the far-flung recesses of your brain. It taunts you in a way that makes you feel like a dog trying to shake free of a medical cone. Sleep becomes elusive.

One thing that will help is to think of your work as a wheel that consists of three activities: Make, Master, and Mesh. If you don’t spend time on each of them your wheel will be lopsided. It will be a bumpy ride! If you can make a habit of intentionally spending a set amount of time on each of these activities your “to-do” list will become moot because you will know that you are engaging in the very activities that will propel your business and your personal development forward. 


Make: This is what you produce. The end product. As Seth Godin puts it, “When you ship, you silence the lizard brain. You beat the resistance and your ideas get out in the world. It’s not easy, but it’s very important. I am shipping because I don’t want to create art for art’s sake; I want to do work that matters, that makes a difference in people’s lives.” If your business is manufacturing, then as the owner you obviously won’t be creating the end product yourself.

But you make be writing a blog, like this one. Or updating your process manual which will impact future efficiencies. It might even mean sending those Thank You e-mails after a networking meeting. These are the products that are not reactionary. Of course, you “Make” when there is a fire to put out. We are talking about “Making” when it is an option. This is when you do it because you know you should. This is the good kind.

“Hey! I have two hours with nothing to do! I’ll write a bunch of thank you notes.”

Said no business owner. Ever.

Master: This can mean anything that improves your skillset. Attending a class, listening to TED Talks, reading books, watching YouTube videos that teach you how to ______ (fill in the blank). It also includes exercise, spending time being a better father, husband and friend. These are known as “soft skills”. If you are a business owner you will be wise to hone the hard skills too, such as sales, accounting, project management, time management, relationship building, decision making, negotiating, and flexibility., YouTube, etc. are great resources. Again, this will have to be intentional.


“There’s so much uncertainty and ambiguity around the future of work, it doesn’t matter your industry or job function. That’s why, when anyone asks what the next “hot” skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.

Even if you don’t know exactly what you’ll need to learn, you can’t go wrong cultivating a growth mindset and embracing the idea that you’ll have to learn something. It doesn’t matter if you graduated from college last year or 10 years ago. Your ability and willingness to continually build new knowledge and skills could spell the difference between a continuous upward trajectory and a career plateau.”


Mesh: This is networking. Business Development. Playing in traffic. Make a daily goal for yourself of reaching out to a certain number of people, set some meetings, add some names to your CRM. Go to networking events. It takes a village to have a successful career; people who provide you with information, connect you to others, help you get your job done, advocate for you, mentor, guide, and sponsor you. And to build this type of network, your networking activity needs to be strategic.

To create the type of network that supports your ambition, your efforts must be intentional and purposeful. You also have to be willing to have a long vision. Actual sales that come about organically take time. Many e-mails and connections you make for others won’t have anything to do with increasing your bottom line. But it will develop your generosity of spirit. That makes Baby Jesus smile.

Don’t Be Lopsided

Task-oriented folks like to ship. They “Make” like a house on fire. But they often struggle with delegation. They spend too much time as an employee rather than a business owner. But without taking time to hone their skills (sales training, anyone?) or Meshing, their pipeline will soon dry up and there won’t be anyone left to “Make” for.

Lovers of information love to “Master”. They don’t shy away from new technology like most. They enjoy the challenge of honing their public speaking skills. Yet if this person is a business owner, their pipeline will dry up and deadlines will be missed. People like this often struggle with perfectionism so it’s difficult for them to “Make”.

Extroverts love to “Mesh”. Going to networking events energizes them. They are the connectors. Nothing stokes their psyched like cyber introducing someone they worked within 2007 to the second cousin of a high school classmate’s wife.

Based on your personality, you will gravitate to one of these activities and tempted to spend most or all of your time on it. Don’t be that person. Respect the spokes. And give them equal attention. If you can’t do all three things make sure you build a team that will cover each. That’s what building a team is all about. Finding those who hold the gifts that you don’t. Snatch them up and appreciate what they bring. Then you can ride off into the sunset doing your amazing thing!