Rhys: Our guest is Elaine Betts of Go Far Consulting. She’s an author, speaker, trainer and business owner for over 20 years. She is an expert in time management and business building. Thank you for being here.
Elaine: Thank you for inviting me, Rhys.
Rhys: Okay. So what is the first thing that people need to know about managing their time?
Elaine: Good question. I think one of the things that people don’t necessarily look at is where are they spending their time in the first place. Knowing what you’re doing with your time is a huge starting point. It’s just like money. If you’re managing money, you want to know where you’re spending your money so that you know what you can cut back on and where you want to spend it or invest it. Time is exactly the same. If we monitor where we’re spending our time, then we’ve got a good place to start in evaluating what’s a good use of our time.
Rhys: I see. I imagine there are a lot of tools these days to find ways to track your time. There are all kinds of time tracking programs. Other than that there’s the old yellow pad and pen.
Elaine: There are lots of different tools you can use and there are so many online things. Again, it depends on the person. There’s no one-style-fits-all. Everybody’s environment is different. Everyone’s business is different. Their goals are different. So it’s coming up with something that is suitable for you. Even a pad and paper is a great starting place. Picking the first three things that you want to achieve that day, looking to see how long those things are going to take you realistically, breaking them down into manageable chunks – that’s the best thing to start off with.
Rhys: Right. So these days, what are the main areas should block out in terms of time? In the macro. We’ll get into some more detail a little later.
Elaine: Look in to see what’s important. People with children, are you spending time with children? It doesn’t matter how old they are. I know my last year when my son was in high school, it would have been very easy for me to spend a lot of my time in my business and yet then feel regrets later on about not spending the time with my son before he went off to university. What’s important to you? What are you trying to achieve? Spending time in the areas of what is of most importance and having a balance because like anything else, if we focus on one thing too long it exhausts our brain and we need to give that a chance to recover. Just like any other—I know the brain isn’t necessarily a muscle—
Rhys: For some people.
Elaine: There is this place though where it needs time to recover and knowing what’s most important to you is the key factor.
Rhys: So what inspired you to get into helping people with time management?
Elaine: There are all sorts of things that happen in life and I’ve had many curveballs thrown at me, several of which have been pretty mind-blowing, definitely life-changing. For people who’ve got children, imagine one of those mornings when you’re going off to school trying to get them ready for school, breakfast, you’re getting cross because they’re not getting up. One’s still in the shower, one’s still in bed. And I get a phone call from the doctor to say that I had a brain tumor. In that one phone call, in that moment, my life changed completely about what was important. The fact that there was kids not getting ready for school, the fact that we weren’t going to be on time—all of a sudden it didn’t matter anymore. They were the most important thing. Not knowing what the future was going to hold, not knowing what that brain tumor was like, I didn’t know what the next thing for me was. Knowing then how much time you have becomes a huge commodity, and who is important to you and what is important to you. It’s really life-changing. And I want people to realize that life is very short and very fragile, and so it’s so vital that we make the most of our time and live life completely to the full with no regrets. That’s why I do what I do.
Rhys: And I assume that you’re fine?
Elaine: Oh yes. Yes, I’m fine.
Rhys: You’re here. And it doesn’t sound like your kids are little anymore.
Elaine: Yes, they’re not little anymore. That was 11 years ago. It’s really made me very, very passionate about particularly people in business. Why do we start in business? We start in business because we either think that we can do better at what we’re doing—working at a company, we love what we do and become an expert in that field—and we want to do more of that. The trouble is we also get caught up with it being a ball and chain. We lose our freedom and we end up working 24-7. Our business should be the vehicle to have what we want in life. It should be a balance between enjoying our business and then using that as a vehicle to then do the fun things that are important too, with family, with friends, hobbies, interests and having a good all-around balance.
Rhys: Yes. We’ve all known people who’ve let their business become, essentially, a not-so well paying job.
Elaine: Yup. A business is totally different from being self-employed and understanding that difference and where you want to be—do you want to be self-employed trading time for money, or do you want to have a business where you leverage who you are and build on that? So that you can walk away from your business for a week, for a month, for three months and your business still functions without you. That’s a business.
Rhys: Thank you very much. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about what people can do specifically to manage their time. We’ve been speaking with Elaine Betts from Go Far Consulting and if you want to see the full in-depth version of this interview go to the Small Business File website.