How to Manage Your Time: Lessons from the Cat

As the founder of MOBE, I find myself juggling an awful lot of tasks and projects from day to day. I am full of ideas and always motivated to grow the company. I also love getting out there and meeting people that have joined the business. The problem is, there are only so many hours in the day to accomplish all these things—and I didn’t decide to start my own business so that I would have to work 24 hours a day. You probably didn’t either.

Be like the Cat

So I’ve come up with a model for the ideal time management of a person that has their own small business: Be like the cat. Okay, I know that might surprise you. After all, a cat doesn’t seem very productive at first glance, but bear with me.

Look at your average housecat. It spends half the day and half the night doing something it’s famous for: relaxing. Let’s say on average your cat spends 16 hours just chilling out or sleeping. It spends the rest of its time eating, washing, hunting, playing, and checking out its territory.

If we take into consideration that sleeping and relaxing are the cat’s favorite activities, then this is a very effective use of time! In total, that’s about eight hours of wakefulness and productivity during every 24-hour period. That’s about the same amount of time you probably spent working as an employee.

Essentially, the cat spends the same amount of time working as most of us do, but arguably a lot more time enjoying itself than the rest of us.

Time management is all about deciding what you really want to be doing with your time and then getting your necessary tasks done so that you can spend more hours doing the things you enjoy. After all, that’s part of the reason all of us become entrepreneurs—to get the maximum benefit out of our working hours. Ideally, we needn’t work any more hours in a day than our cats!

The Business Owner’s Time Trap

In an article discussing how to work smarter, not longer when running your own business, Robert Craven of The Directors’ Centre says, “Whether unintentionally or not, many of us don’t work as efficiently as possible some or even most of the time.” He’s specifically addressing business owners, since we have a tendency to overwork ourselves and forget about things like food, breaks, and sometimes even other human beings.

I’m a numbers guy, and a lot of you probably are too. So how does better time management affect your bottom line? According to the Happy Planet Index, feeling non-stressed and happy during work results in 31 percent high productivity levels, and 37 percent more sales. The lesson I take from this is that we all need to work smarter and more effectively, not necessarily longer.

Final Thought

Try to dedicate a specific amount of time to your business each and every day, and keep a clear list of goals to work on so you don’t waste time. When you limit your working hours, you’ll discover that you stop fiddling with unprofitable activities and focus on the money-making activities instead. That’s the best way to work! If you need help with administrative tasks, look into hiring an assistant or part-time worker to help you maximize those working hours.

When work is finished, remember to relax and focus your attention on the things that make you relaxed and happy. Conversely, use your time at work effectively.

So is your cat awake? Don’t let him think he’s the most efficient creature in the house. Go be productive!