A common misconception is that you can manage your time--you can’t. You can only manage what you do with your time.
#1 - DECIDE WHO'S IN CHARGE
One of the first things I do with a new client is help her to free more time.
Always, always we start the same way: with a decision.
Yes, you need to decide that you are in charge of your time-- not your phone, iPad or laptop.
If I don’t start by empowering the entrepreneur or business leader to take back their time, nothing will change. They won’t have time for me, our meetings, or any homework assigned to them. We don’t even get into time tips, tools and techniques until they get how important it is to own their time.
If you are like the 79% of 29-44 year olds that look at your phone, email, etc. before getting out of bed you are already handicapped for the day. The device has you and you are no longer in control. Think about it: there is never a quick check. One message leads your to Facebook, from there you are commenting, back to email and start responding. These diversions get you off on the wrong foot. They start your day by reacting vs planning. Now you are late and no planning gets done.
#2 - BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Imagine: You are pouring yourself a really nice glass of Cab at 7:30PM reflecting on the great day you just had….what happened? How was it a great day? What did you accomplish? Think about how you want to end the day at the start. This ensures that you think about the highest priorities. Visualize and walk yourself through the day. As you do this, think of the obstacles that could come your way and quickly decide how you would handle them.
#3 - BE EARLY
A client who was always late who lived in Washington Heights, way uptown. She had an extremely long commute and a demanding job and a frenetic energy. She wasted almost an hour every morning reacting to social media and email. She was always late for work and harried when she got there. She was losing confidence in morning meetings as she came in just in time for them and was typically out of breath. She planned to be at the office early--at least an hour before the meeting. We switched things around and she started her day with a 15 minute meditation and listing her priorities. On the subway she would enter all her priorities into her calendar and when she got to the office her boss could see her calendar and how organized she was for the day. When she arrived at the office she hit her email, since she was at her desk and feeling efficient, she didn’t need to spend time answering every email in detail. Her reward was that for 15 minutes before the morning meeting started she could get on social media and be in the meeting room calm, relaxed, and waiting for the others.
She who is at the meeting early, calm, and relaxed...the other party rushing in with a story about the subway--guess who is in the power seat at the start of the meeting.
# 4 - FOCUS ON INCOME
There are only two kinds of activities: those that are income producing and those that are not. Entrepreneurs tend to want to get things cleaned up all by themselves. Ha! That almost never happens. What will help you get things cleaned up is the assistant you can hire while you do those things that you do best that bring in more income. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Use the 50-50 rule. Make a list of all your activities. Put an “I” next to the ones that generate income. That could be sending an invoice out or asking for referrals to new business or calling some dormant clients to remind them that you care. When you prioritize your list make sure you are splitting the time between the items you marked with an "I" and the others.
Some founders fall in love with developing their business; it is dangerous to spend more than 50% of your time there. Lights, camera action...get out from behind the director’s chair!
#5 - THE MONDAY MORNING DATE WITH YOURSELF
Many years ago I started to love Mondays. Yes, you read that right! I owe it all to my Monday morning breakfast meeting with myself. Each Monday I get up earlier and start my day by 7:30am. I take myself to my favorite breakfast place and until 9am, I am “ON” my business vs. “IN” my business. I organize and plan my week, carefully prioritizing what gets to go on my calendar. That brings me to ….
#6 - SCHEDULE EVERYTHING
The calendar is a critical business tool that not only makes you look professional but makes it pretty tough for you to miss a meeting. I use them for all my social activities, too. I even have a client that uses them for scheduling her family events and gaining commitment from her kids! In Gmail and Outlook you can even color code your activities to use to audit your time plans. Getting yourself electronic for your calendar is a must.
It shocks me how many people of all ages and backgrounds still don’t use an electronic calendar.
Here are some helpful e-calendar videos from YouTube:
For Google Calendar - This is worth the 37 minute investment is great for Google calendar rookies or even intermediate users.
For iCal / Apple Calendar - Gives a good overview as to how iCal (now just called Calendar) can sync with your other Apple apps like Mail and iMessages.
Sunrise Calendar - My content coach swears by it. Syncs with all of your favorite productivity and social accounts for desktop, iPad, and mobile. Great video by Steve Dotto whose other videos are great for discovering many other productivity applications.
Make time by putting in your calendar! If you don’t get to it--don’t beat yourself up. Just reschedule. Move it to a time that day that does work.
Above all remember it is your time and you won’t get it back. Make it work for you first. Your boss, family, and friends will thank you.
What is your biggest time thief? Let’s talk. Chances are good that you can shift with intention and accountability. Schedule a call with me!