A key attribute for many successful business leaders is their disciplined time management. As a business grows, the demands on the leader outpace the available time capacity. This results in poor customer service, slipping team morale and plateaued business growth. So what do you do?

Disciplined time management is a learned skill. At the moment you are you doing your best to run the business and trying to make the best decisions every day. But that is not enough, you need a framework. If it is difficult now, imagine if you 10x the business?

The team at Shirlaws Group have a simple process which I love. They call it:

Red, Blue, Black.

If you look at the fundamentals of running a business you could segment tasks into:

  • business support,
  • revenue generating, or
  • future growth.

If you think about where you are allocating your time, put each task into one of the above segments. Is this an administrative task?¬† A delivery task? Perhaps a “working on the business” task? Shirlaws have gone a step further and used “colour coding” to further contextualise:

  • Red: administration and business support activities which are non-revenue generating. Examples include: accounting, email management, HR, IT, photocopying.
  • Blue: delivery and operational activities which are revenue generating. Examples include: marketing, sales, delivery of product or service.
  • Black: real strategy and working on the business activities which pipeline future growth. Examples include: strategic planning, new product development, opening new channels to market to, creating strategic partnerships.

Use this framework, Red Blue Black, to track and colour code your time. Where is your time being allocated? The question then needs to be asked “do you know where you should be spending your time?”


What Now?

Run this exercise for a week, track your time then at weeks end apply the red, blue black colours. Many leaders are doing too much red. If you run a small team then as a leader your ratios should be something like 50% black, 45% blue and 5% red. As the business grows, say to a team of 12, you as the business leader can elevate yourself to 100% black with a correctly structure team under you. The key is understanding the time management and colour coding of your team members. This framework also helps with understanding what type of team member to hire next.

Do yourself a favour and listen to a Shirlaws Director speaking about this in more detail: The Dent Podcast.

Time management is a key component to handling business growth, ensure you are being effective and also having a life outside of business. I’m sure this framework will give you insights into where your time is going and that of your team. Remember to stay disciplined. Most leaders don’t do this, but then again, most don’t run a remarkable business.

Brad Turville

Brad Turville

Director @ BJT Financial | Helping private businesses fast track their business growth through big firm expertise and boutique firm service.