7 Tips To Manage Your Time More Effectively When You Get Really Busy

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As an agency owner, managing your time effectively is crucial to ensure that you can accomplish everything that needs to be done. But sometimes we get really busy focusing on client work and all our best-laid plans go out the window.

So in today's podcast episode, I share with you some tips to help you manage your time when you get really busy.

Time Stamp

[00:55] introduction to 7 tips to manage your time more effectively

[01:31] Prioritise your tasks: Determine which tasks are most important and need to be done immediately, and which ones can wait. 

[05:27] Set realistic goals: Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day or week, and set goals accordingly. 

[06:30] Create a schedule: Create a schedule for yourself that includes all of the tasks you need to accomplish, as well as any appointments or meetings you have.

[08:48] Delegate tasks: If possible, delegate some of the less critical tasks to employees or freelancers. 

[10:34] Use technology to your advantage: There are many tools and apps available that can help you manage your time more effectively, such as calendar apps, to-do list apps, and project management software.

[11:12] Take breaks: It's important to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout and maintain productivity. Make sure to schedule breaks into your schedule so that you have time to recharge.

[12:08] Develop good boundaries and learn to say no: remember when you say YES to something you are saying NO to something else.


“Remember when you say YES to something you are saying NO to something else.” - Rob Da Costa
“There are just 3 pots of time you should focus on: REVENUE, STRATEGY and ADMIN” - Rob Da Costa
“Don’t be a busy fool focusing on tasks that don’t move your agency forwards” - Rob Da Costa

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 Full Episode Transcription

As agency owners, one of our most precious assets is our time and juggling our time to focus on those priorities that genuinely move our business forward. Now, this becomes particularly challenging when we get really busy and often getting really busy means delivering a lot of client work. So in today's episode of the podcast, I want to talk to you about how to manage your time when you get really busy, rather than just moving from one fire to the next. So that's what we're covering in today's episode and let's get started.

I'm Rob Da Costa, and this is The Agency Accelerator podcast as someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown and sold my own agency and just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing my and my guest's experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable business as a business owner, managing your time effectively is crucial to ensure that you can accomplish everything that needs to get done.

Now, this becomes particularly relevant when we get really busy, which usually means that we are focused on client delivery work. But if we're not careful, some of those other plates that need to keep spinning will start dropping because we are at the beck and call of our clients. So in the podcast today, I want to share with you seven tips or strategies that you can consider to help you manage your time more effectively, even when you get super busy. So let's jump into tip number one, which is all about prioritising your tasks.

Now let's just kick this off by talking about the fact that there are fundamentally three pots of time that you need to allocate if you want to successfully run your agency and grow it in the future and not lurch from that awful feast or famine that many agencies going go through. First of all, explain those three pots. So number one is revenue, and this is all about the client work that you have on your books this month. So this is where you're spending time doing client delivery.

That's the one that everybody gets. The second pot is a strategy and strategy is simply how is your agency earning money in the future. So this is where you need to be focusing on your vision. You need to focus on marketing. You need to be focusing on sales. You need to focus on client retention and growth and those other things that are going to keep your agency growing and help you avoid that awful feast or famine cycle. And then the third part is admin and admin is all of the tasks that you do that are a cost to your business. But I like the lifeblood that keeps your business going.

So this will be getting your invoicing out, doing credit control, managing your team and anything else that you do in terms of systems and processes to ensure that your business doesn't topple over. And indeed, it isn't all dependent on you. And if we don't get the split of our time between these three pots of revenue strategy and admin, right then we are really going to struggle to prioritise our time and manage things when we get really busy. And indeed we need to protect those parts so often.

What happens is that we've got clients shouting is we're not delegating well, so we are entrenched in all the client work and the strategy that's the future of your agency goes out the window and the admin goes out the window. Now what happens if that's the case is you're going to be very profitable in the short term, But then projects come to an end. And because you have been doing your business development, you won't have new projects waiting in the wings to start. And that's when we lurched into famine.

And another thing that's going to happen if you only focus on that revenue part is the fact that we're not going to be running our business effectively. So we're going to have issues around, for example, cash flow because we're not on top of our debts. We may not be getting invoices out on time because we're too busy servicing clients, and this not only leads us into a place of famine, but it also creates an awful lot of stress for you and other people in the agency. So it's not an advisable approach, and therefore we need to ring-fence time and protect time in our diary to focus on strategy and admin as well as revenue. Once you understand that and you started to categorise the task that fit into those three parts, you next need to determine which tasks are most important and which tasks need to be done immediately and which are.

The ones can be deferred or delegated and can wait till the future. This will help you focus on the most critical task first and ensure that you're not wasting time on less important ones. Now, it's really important when you're trying to determine this, that you align the things that you do on a day-to-day basis with your vision and with your focus for that month. Because that's the road map that you need to be delivering. And if you're distracted away from that because you're so embedded in client work, for example, then you are not going to be delivering your goals for that month and you'll stand back from it eventually and realise that I've been super busy.

But I've been a bit of a busy fall because I actually haven't delivered those five key goals that I had set for this month that will help me deliver the quarter, which will then help me deliver the year. So that's my first tip, which is that you really need to make sure you're prioritising your tasks, not just based on who was shouting loudest but based on making sure you've got the split of your time right and that you are focused on delivering the goals that are identified in your monthly plan that comes out of your annual vision.

So once you've prioritised your task, the next thing you need to do is make sure you are setting realistic goals. You need to be realistic, about what you can accomplish in a day or in a week, and set goals accordingly. This will help you avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed, and it will make it easier to manage your time effectively and give you a sense of comp because you are actually achieving what you said because you've set realistic goals. Now, Bill Gates said that we underestimate what we can do in the long term, and we overestimate what we can do in the short term, and this is very true when it comes to goal setting for your day, week or month.

So be really mindful of this, so that is my second piece, two pieces of advice, which is to set realistic goals. And this is particularly important when you are really busy and you can just avoid all of this. You can just throw it all out the window and just say, I've got loads of fires to focus on. I'm just going to get on and do it. So I really want to encourage you, especially when you get busy to actually stop and do some planning. And that includes setting realistic goals, which are my tip number two and tip number three as well.

When you're setting goals now, what you need to do is create a schedule, so you want to create a schedule for yourself that includes all of the tasks that you need to accomplish, including those goals that you've set in the tip, too, as well. Of course, of any appointments and meetings that you have with clients or with your team. Those regular meetings are super important. They can't go out the window, so this is going to help you stay on track and ensure that you're not forgetting anything that's important. Now, if you listen to my podcasts or read my content for a while. You know, I am a really big believer in planning, and I really like the concept that Michael Higher introduced of having morning and evening rituals, which means that you just start and end your day in the same way and part of your morning. And your evening ritual should be creating your schedule for the next day and making sure that when you are identifying the list of things that you need to do that you actually assign time to each of those tasks.

And really importantly, based on what Bill Gates said, you overestimate how long each task will take because this gives you a bit of wriggle room for if the task actually takes longer, or indeed if things happen that you couldn't possibly plan for. So, for example, if I'm planning tomorrow in the evening today, I need to overestimate how long tasks will take because there's bound to be a phone call that I couldn't have guessed was going to happen. And that phone call might take 20 minutes of my day.

And if I've been really kind of lenient about how much time I'm assigning to a task, then suddenly I can be overrunning, and then my to-do list goes out the window. So that is tip number three, which is creating a schedule overestimating how long each task will take and assigning specific tasks. You literally go from 9 to 9:30. I'm doing this from 9:30 to 10:30. I'm doing that. And the other thing is that when you're working on these tasks, I don't want to make this podcast about time management.

But when you're working on these tasks, try and shut out all of your other distractions so that you can just work on the task at hand. At the end of the day, the hardest thing in your day will be creating these schedules. And once you've done that and you've done it in a considered way, then you can forget everything else and just work on the next task at hand. And then before you know it, by the end of the day, you've ticked everything off, which always has to be our goal.

Tip number four is to delegate as much as you possibly can, and I think agency owners and leaders and entrepreneurs are really bad delegate ears. They run these stories in their head that they believe that no one will do it as well as them, or no one would do it as quickly as them or they haven't got time to show somebody. So, if possible, delegate some of those less critical tasks to other employees or via freelancers to get work off your plate. And this will free up your time to focus on the most important task that you've identified in the previous tips.

Now, one thing to think about on one way to work out whether you should be doing a task or whether you should be deferring it, delegating or ditching it is to consider your notional alley rate and a really easy way to work. This out is to take your annual revenue for the year divided by 1800 which basically says You've got a 7.5-hour day and you take four weeks holiday a year, and that means that you've got 1800 hours a year to work. And if you divide that by your revenue, this is going to give you the idea of your notional hourly rate, and then you need to look at tasks and judge them against that.

So let's say your notional rate is £120 an hour. Is then filling in a spreadsheet or writing a report to a client probably isn't worth £120. So you need to use that as a judgement to say. Actually, I need to delegate this, and that kind of leads me to my fifth point, which is using technology to your advantage because there are many tools and apps available that will help us manage our time and get things done more effectively. So think sometimes when I when I'm looking at my notional rate, can I actually automate this task?

Are there ways of doing it? And there are so many great tools out there, such as calendar appointments, to-do lists, apps, and project management software there's some great AI software like chat GBT. Now that can help you almost have an assistant to do your research for you before your writing an article or record a podcast or whatever. So use technology to your advantage and remember when you need to get work off your plate. One of the things you can do is delegate. Another thing you can do is different.

Another thing you can do is ditch it altogether, but the fifth thing you can do is automate it. So do you think about how technology can help you? That's my tip number five. And then Tip number six is a bit of a counterintuitive one, but that is to make sure that you are taking breaks. So, you know, earlier, I talked about assigning time to the task and then just focusing on that task at hand, Then making sure you take a break and reward yourself at the end of it.

So if you've got half an hour task, just take five minutes to go and make a cup of tea. Or get some breath or walk outside the office or whatever you need to do so that you can get some balance in your day and avoid being burnt out. I'm going to say this in the summer vacation, but you are not Superman or Superwoman. And don't think that you can just take it all on and be a sponge for everyone else's demands, which often happens. And that's why I've talked many times about it being lonely at the top because everyone's looking at you for the answers.

So you're not Superman or Superwoman, so you need to make sure that you are taking breaks. This will actually maintain your productivity. It won't hinge it. And on that note, a kind part of taking a break is about having good boundaries in work life, balancing good boundaries with your clients, good boundaries with your staff and remembering that you don't always have to jump. When a client asked your question, think about your service level based on the fee that they're paying and don't always feel tempted to respond immediately.

Part of the crazy world we live in is that we've got email and notifications on our phones and on our computers everywhere. It follows us around, and it's all vying for our attention. But that doesn't mean you have to respond because you can respond. So make sure you're getting good boundaries as well as part of my tip number six around taking breaks. And the seventh tip I want to say is to learn to say no. Remember, this is something else. I think Michael Hyatt said this and I really like this quote.

I use it all the time is remembering that when you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else. So if I say yes to doing this client call, I might be saying no to doing some business development. And if I say yes to meeting this client at six o'clock, I might be saying no to some family time. So really, consider carefully that when I say yes to something, I'm saying no to something else. So make sure you're saying yes to the right things. Make sure that you are not taking on more work than you can handle and make sure you say no to requests that are either outside the scope of work that the client is asking for or you don't have time for them again.

I don't want to go into this in too much detail, but there are five things you can say to a client. When they ask you to do something, you can say “Yes, of course, I can do that”. But not until this date you can say, “Yes, I can do that, but I need to swap something else out of our agreed work plan for this month because that wasn't included”. You can say yes, I can do that and it will cost you this much money.

And the fifth point is you can say no, I can't do that. So just remember that there are five ways of responding to, for example, client demands or staff demands. You don't always have to say yes or no. So just bear in mind that you need to learn to say no and it's actually okay. The world won't cave in if you do say no. So, as I said to sort of summarise this week's podcast, you just need to remember that you are not Superman or superwoman, So managing your time effectively as a business owner requires discipline, concern, federation focus and the ability to prioritise tasks.

And that means that when the world gets super crazy and super busy, sometimes we just need to put the pause button on for a moment, stand back and look at all of our work in context to help us prioritise. And by following these seven tips, hopefully, it's going to help you stay on top of your workload, ensure that you're making the most of your time and not lead to the feeling of being super stressed and super busy with no time to breathe. And all of what I've talked about goes out the window.

So remember, we get super busy. We almost need to be counterintuitive and just stop for a moment. Put the pause button on, and stand back from everything to help us prioritise before we take that pause button off and go and focus on that first task at hand. Because we've prioritised and applied these seven tips, we can be sure that the task that we're going to focus on are the ones that are definitely going to move the needle and move our agency for it. So there we go.

Another super practical episode. I hope you found that useful. If you did, please consider leaving a review. Make sure you subscribe and please share this podcast with your colleagues as well. Other than that, I will see you next Thursday for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast.

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