Tag Archives: time management

Structure Your Week to Maximize Your Time

Many people I know complain about being too busy, not having enough time then feeling scattered and ineffective.  Yet they aren’t sure what to do about it.

In fact, we are each given the same amount of time: 24 hours, 1,400 minutes or 86,400 seconds each day.

The critical element is how we use that time.  Some people produce amazing results, mega deals or profound impact on their community.  Others seem to fritter away their time on meaningless activities, designed to have them feel comfortable and safe, but never reaching anywhere near their full potential.

I thought I’d share with you the strategy and tactics I use to allocate and leverage my time for maximum advantage and impact.

The over-arching short-term strategy is time blocking. I set aside chunks of time to focus and concentrate on one project or similar activities.  The advantage of this is rooted in early industrial age theories where doing similar, repetitive activities builds up a rhythm – a flow – which maximizes throughput.  When you multi-task, switching from phone calls, to email, to internet research to writing, your brain loses momentum.  The constant effort required to shift gears deludes you into thinking you’re accomplishing things while secretly eating away at your effectiveness.

I ‘see’ clients Tuesday – Thursday. That’s when I also attend a very few, carefully selected networking events and most speaking engagements. I schedule outside meetings around where I’m going to be in the city rather than driving all over creation for coffee or lunch. I strive to stay in the office on Mondays and Fridays and have very little client interaction on those days.  They are for me!

I subscribe to Marketing Mondays when I generally write these articles. I make plans for the week of who I need to call for prospecting or follow up purposes. I sketch out email marketing campaigns.

I also have Financial Fridays on the calendar.  That’s when I deal with some simple QuickBooks accounting issues and sales tax reporting. This keeps me current by doing a little each week so it doesn’t pile up and become overwhelming.

Here are 7 of my favorite other tactics.

1. Be crystal clear of your Dream Destination.
Think about this like your own personal “Happy Ending”. It’s not about the end of  your life but it is the state and quality of your life several years out in the future.  If things had gone better than you ever expected, what would you be experiencing?

2.  Sketch out a plan for the coming year.
You likely won’t get to your Dream Destination in one year and it’s tricky planning concrete events much farther out than a year. Convert your goals and outcomes to milestones and events and put activities (calls, meetings, marketing campaigns etc) on your calendar. Be bold and courageous as you do this.

3. Review long term goals at least monthly.

This will keep you from getting too distracted from immediate burning issues that would otherwise knock you off of your big target goals. You might decide to change your goals but at least it won’t be because you ‘forgot’ about them and their due date snuck up on you.

4.  Before you leave the office every day, make a list of the most important things to get done the following day.
If you skip this step, you run the risk of losing focus and getting caught up in unproductive busy work. You’ll forget about the important things and the day will end before you notice.

5.  Make sure marketing your business is on the list every day.
It’s tempting to spend all of your time serving your clients, but you can’t ignore the importance of continually engaging in marketing activities and sales conversations. Whether it’s nurturing referral partners, making cold, warm or follow up phone calls, or building lead generation processes for your website, you must perform actions that bring potential new clients ‘into the fold’.

6. Do the scariest things first.

Think big.  Then think bigger.  Make that important call.  Prepare yourself by doing some research so you’re prepared but don’t postpone making big calls by consuming yourself with research.

7. Delegate, delegate, delegate

I’ve said this before but it’s so important, it bears repeating.  Invest your valuable time to business development and selected product development that creates value for your firm.

Implement these practices on a consistent basis and watch your productivity soar.

How to Position Yourself for the Economic Recovery in 3 Simple Steps

The economy is showing signs of recovering.  It may be a slow rebound but there are things you MUST be doing now to make sure you participate in the recovery when it comes.

I talk to many business owners who are either hunkered down themselves waiting for the economic ‘storm’ to blow over or they’re trying to sell their products or services to those who are hunkered down.  Either way, not much is happening in the small business world.  Even the executives I speak to in corporations are still being a bit cautious about the investments they’re making in people, products and services.

1. Improve systems

Now is the time to make sure your internal engine is running properly.  Evaluate your sales, production, service delivery and administrative processes.  Determine how well they are functioning.  Do this even if you are the only person in your ‘company’. Ask yourself and your team if you have one where breakdowns happen. Who’s not getting the info they need?  What’s taking too long to happen?  What can be automated or streamlined? What needs to be documented so others can carry out the task when a transition occurs?

I helped one of my clients and his team eliminate the breakdowns between the office and field functions.  Right after that, his business exploded.  While we didn’t work directly on sales, he confided to me that if we hadn’t fixed his process breakdowns, they would have not been able to handle the onslaught of work and would have looked like “complete idiots”.  Save yourself from that potential business-killing embarrassment.

Improving systems improves your profitability.

2. Improve you

When you’re trimming expenses, it’s tempting to cut training.  Large and small companies often make the mistake of eliminating training when budgets are tight because the ROI on training seems slower and in some cases, hard to measure.  Yet, It’s during times of trouble that you MUST make sure everyone is functioning at their optimal level…including you!

You and your staff are your company’s most valuable possession. You might have some trademarked or patented processes. But even still, you and your people are carrying them out. No people or ineffective people, no profits.

Times are changing.  Even when the economy recovers, nothing will be quite the same again.  Make sure you and your team are mentally ready with the skills and attitudes that will carry you through the next iteration of the global economy. Invest now and position yourself to trounce the competition.

3. Improve sales

When you do the first two things, it’s likely that your sales will increase on their own.  However, here are a few tips for increasing sales even more.  Get feedback from clients about what you’re offering them and they need now.  Make sure you’ve adjusted to the current environment.  Consider flexible payment terms.  Cater to a different (hungrier or higher-income) crowd. Offer new products, programs and services. Talk to more people.  If you’re not having a number of sales conversations every day, you’re leaving money on the table.

Focusing on these three simple steps will help position you well for the recovery. Don’t sit around moping.  I’m sure you heard the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” when you were growing up.  Implementing these steps is one way you can help yourself. Get to work!

Need More Time? 5 Top Tips on How to Get More Done

roadrunnerrunningsmallerIf you’re like most of my coaching clients, you probably feel like you’re scampering around like a roadrunner – with too much to do in the time you have to get it done.

If that’s the case, read on, this article is all about improving your productivity and getting more meaningful work accomplished with the time you have.

The key is to focus more, concentrate your efforts and leverage your most productive skills.

Here are my top 5 tips for getting more done in a day.

1.  Prioritize
Before you leave at night, do two things: 1) straighten your desk up and 2)make a list of your most important items to accomplish the following day.

When you get in in the morning, start working on the list. Don’t open your email!  Work on the top two things on your most important list for at least an hour, if not two.

If people drop by during those first two hours, unless it’s an emergency (or your boss), ask if you can get back to them later in the day.

2. Get stingy with your time
Strive to reduce the number of meetings you need to sit in on.  See if you can send a delegate or submit a report in advance. For any meeting you conduct, make sure there is an agenda with outcomes of the discussion for each item on the agenda.

3. Be the boss of your email
Open your email two, maybe three times during the day and answer all of the emails during those times.  Then close your email program so you’re not distracted by the ‘you’ve-got-mail’ signal.

4. Systematize
Create/document systems and processes for your staff so they don’t have to bother you so much during the day. Make a list of the most common questions/issues and document your responses.  Cover them in staff meetings regularly.

5. Delegate/Outsource
Identify those things you do that someone else could do (even if you could do them better).  Document the process you use to complete those tasks.

Figure out who around you would be the best person to take the task on.  Meet with the person and explain what you want them to take over and how it will benefit them (and you) to start doing the task(s).

Ask what questions or concerns they have about taking on the task then address the questions/concerns. (Do this for the concerns you have about giving them the task as well.)

Invest some time in training the other person to take them over for you. Meet with him/her periodically to make sure things are going the way you want.

Implement these tips and get more done. Value your time.  It’s a scarce commodity.  Value your gifts and skills. They are treasures as well.  They should be invested in high-return activities.  When you value your time and abilities more, you’ll create more value in your life, business or career.

Is Your Fear of Raising Your Fees Stifling Your Growth?

What excuses are you using for not raising your fees?

  • The economy is too weak?
  • People aren’t buying anything but necessities these days?
  • I’ll lose more business than I’ll gain?

I’ve heard them all. I’ve even heard them come out of my own mouth in the past.

Watch this Michael Jordan video and then tell me what you think.

“Become Legendary”

What would it take for YOU to become legendary?

I can tell you one thing, it’s not waiting for the economy to recover.

I think there are five specific things that need to happen on the road to being legendary.

While being legendary isn’t my end goal, I believe that the discipline it takes to walk (or run) on that path is what being legendary is really about.

I had to grapple with one of them this week in order to develop the largest proposal I’ve ever written. I knew I could help this corporate client solve their problem, but it took more than a few deep breaths and a leap of faith on my part to put it all on paper and price it.

Here the five things I believe are critical to the pursuit of being legendary our lives and our businesses.

1. Recognize your gift(s)
So often we dismiss as ordinary the very things that make us unique.  Being legendary requires that we honor and treasure our gifts; that we hold them in special regard. We must nurture or they will whither away and die.

2. Be guided by a higher power
When we live ‘alone’, it’s easy to be frightened or swayed from our calling. Whether you believe in God or your internal guide, connecting with something beyond your worldly ego which will respond to stimuli from a place of defensiveness and fear or power (and not the productive kind).

3.  Do the work
Honoring your gifts means putting them to work.  Expressing them.  Doing what it takes to ensure that they fully unfold. This is a step beyond nurturing them.  Doing the work actually fortifies them. Do the bench presses. Study.  Take classes. Use discipline to get better at your craft.

4.  Stretch your limits
Human bodies & beings gravitate to the state of homeostasis (sameness).  Our brain and muscles tend to want to stay comfortable, in familiar surroundings. Step out. Do things you haven’t done before. Do more than you think you can do. Do it before you think you’re ready.

5.  Measure your impact
Another way we stay small is by ignoring the impact of our presence, words and actions.  Start to notice what happens for your clients when you work your magic.  Ask them to describe for you how your product or service has changed their lives.

Implement these 5 practices consistently and you will transform your experience of yourself. When your sense of self expands, so will your self-worth.

When you know your value, your clients will value you more. Find the courage, confidence and pathway to act on the ideas in your head and the dreams in your heart.

Be unstoppable.  Become legendary. Exceed your dreams.

3 Ways to Keep Your Past from Living Your Future

Let’s face it.  As human beings, we can be creatures of habit.  For that matter, most every living creature I can think of is either a creature of habit or instinct.  The advantage we enjoy is having access to judgment and choice. But how often to we access that advantage?

It serves us to leverage our past learnings.  Without that continuity, we would be ‘reinventing the wheel’ every moment of every day. We wouldn’t get much done.

The difficulty arises when we allow the past to dictate (even unconsciously) what we can do in the present. Our belief in the past limits our perspective. It constrains our actions.  It stymies our ability to conceive of what’s possible.

Here are three concrete, specific things you can do to expand your consciousness and live on the edge of possibility. Use them to soar to new heights, accomplish forsaken dreams, live life more fully, enjoy your time on earth more.

Click here now to read (and comment on) these exciting ideas on my blog

1. Dream of and set big scary goals
When you look toward the future, you disengage from the past – sometimes. You may need to challenge yourself not to be constrained by what you think is possible.  Your sense of ‘possible’ is likely all past-based taking into account what your brain ‘knows’ you can do. Don’t succumb to that.

2. Take a course that requires to express your creativity
Several years ago, I purchased a book titled, Drawing with the Right Side of the Brain. Reading it and doing the exercises within, forced me out of my habitual way of seeing the world. It encouraged me to focus on new things, new perspectives of items that were right in front of me.

3. Consult with people who will challenge you
Surround yourself with people who are out to accomplish the impossible themselves.  The fleeting life we are given is wasted watching endless characters on TV play out scripted or artificial ‘reality’  lives.  Set your own destiny.  Make your own mark. Vow to do more than survive.

You can break out of being a creature of habit.  It takes making a choice to live outside of your box then taking actions consistent with that choice.