Time Management Techniques for Social Entrepreneurs: Balancing Mission and Operations


  Time Management Techniques for Social Entrepreneurs: Balancing Mission and Operations

Social Entrepreneurs are committed to the business of making real, meaningful change in society. In order to thrive, they need to balance their mission and operations. Some people don’t understand that a social enterprise is still a business and needs the appropriate management strategies just like any other company or organization. Over the next few weeks, I will introduce time management strategies for social entrepreneurs. I will provide several examples of companies that are doing really interesting things with time management and how you can learn from them.
Social Economics is an area of study that focuses on the way in which the market economy relate to individuals, corporations, communities and governments. The social enterprise movement is a specific application of the social economics idea that we can use market forces to achieve our social goals. Social entrepreneurs utilize market principles to create value for their mission and their operations because they recognize that all organizations seek value creation through efficient operation at a minimum cost. Social entrepreneurs are committed to serving people in need by providing jobs or developing products and services while making a profit. This is a much more difficult path than other businesses because they must ensure that their mission and their operations align.
The social entrepreneur has an obligation to create value for stakeholders and the general public. Social entrepreneurs need to make sure that they have a detailed philosophy of how their work affects the world, and how it will improve society as a whole. Once you understand your mission, you can then move on to develop metrics that you can use to evaluate your progress. It is very important for every social entrepreneur to develop reliable metrics for measuring how well they are achieving their goals of improving lives and increasing access to needed products or services.

The nine steps outlined on the right show how a social enterprise can develop their metrics and assess progress. A firm must grow in a structured manner as they achieve milestones of success and then continue to evaluate and improve their business model (also called the "Social Enterprise Operating Model" or "SEOM") as they move toward their mission. Here are some examples of how social enterprises use time management techniques:

1) The first step is to create specific goals for your work, which are known as “goals” in Social Economy parlance. This is based on the idea that aiming for something helps you define your mission. It helps you understand precisely what needs to be done to move forward in accomplishing your mission. It also forces you to focus on what you need to do in order to achieve your goals.

2) Once you have clearly defined your mission, the next step is to create a calendar. This calendar can be used for all the tasks or events that need to happen each day, each week or each month. The calendar should be broad enough so that the tasks are not too repetitive, but not so broad that there is no focus and no action. Some social entrepreneurs use an Excel spreadsheet for their calendars while some use dedicated software for this purpose. Some social entrepreneurs create spreadsheets specifically for time management purposes, so they don't always have spreadsheets available and have to it manually (like me).

3) The next step is to award specific tasks to different individuals or department. It simply means that you assign a specific timeline and budget for each operative. These individuals are accountable for the work. All these steps are taken in a beautiful order. The first step is to identify your mission so that you can prioritise and then you allocate your time, resources and money accordingly and then the next challenge will be to budget your time as per your allocated tasks.

4) Once you have assigned a task, you need to ensure that the individual or department has every resource available in order to complete their task within the allotted timeframe. This involves making sure all resources (people, money etc.) are available before it is assigned. If the person or department doesn't have the resources available, then you need to provide them with further training, budgeting or some other kind of support in order to enable them to complete their task.

5) The next step is to define deadlines for each task. Deadlines are especially important for the highest-priority tasks because these tasks must be completed first in order to allow other, less-important tasks to move forward. Deadlines push individuals and organizations towards completion of a task in ways that they wouldn't otherwise accomplish.

6) The next step is evaluate each individual's work. It is best done through an ongoing process because most people will perform at their best when they have some feedback on their performance. However, it is important to be honest about their progress and judgment is the next step.

7) The next step is to evaluate each individual's performance against their goals. Sometimes it becomes very difficult for a person to review his or her work based on regular intervals because people have a tendency to set unrealistic expectations or expectations that are seldom met due to events beyond their control. But, evaluating performance on an annual basis provides feedback which helps the individual and also provides accountability in respect of the goals that were set.
In other words, fiscal year evaluation results provide employees with better insight into how they did compared to previous years which instills more confidence in them as well as accountability towards the organization.

8) The next step is to keep track of what works and what doesn't work in order to identify opportunities to improve. By doing this, you can recognise areas where improvement can be made. Also, you will be more engaged because you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. The last step in this process is to listen to feedback from your stakeholders who are most likely your customers, employees and board members alike.

9) The last step is to review your goals for next year and then revise all of the above steps accordingly. This will help you assess how well you have done in accomplishing your mission so far. You can then move on to developing better metrics for the coming year.

The time budget method, like all other methods, has advantages and disadvantages.

Some online tools that are using the Time Budget Method:

It is assumed that time management can be taught. However, results from some recent studies are somewhat in contrast with the prevalent belief:
<br>One study suggests that task properties (task complexity) interact with time management strategies to explain why there were differences between students and teachers in their learning and performance outcomes. Another study suggests students’ self-regulation skills may be more important than their time-management skills for successful higher education placement into university courses.

Conclusion: Self-regulation skills may be more important than time-management skills for university students’ learning and performance. In addition, it was found that the students' self-regulation skills were positively related to their academic achievement and self-efficacy.

A review of the available research suggests that: "Theoretically, time management contributes to both productivity and well being; however, empirical evidence is mixed. Self-management interventions pertaining to time use have shown a slight positive trend regarding certain life satisfaction variables." The scientific journal "Psychology of Well Being" published research results in 2009 stating a slight positive trend re: certain life satisfaction variables for both self-regulatory interventions on time use & time management training.

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