Think you don’t have enough time? You just have to get smart about how you use it.
What I have observed as I work with small business owners is that they often feel overwhelmed and feel like they are racing just to keep up. When I ask them how they are using their time, they cannot answer. When I ask them to keep a time log, they often resist as they are “Too Busy”.
The sad news is they will remain too busy until they take the time (there is that word again) to learn how they are actually using their time. And this does not have to be hard. It can be as simple as a day broken into 15- or 30-minute increments (link). Then as you work through your day, jot down what you were doing from 8:00 – 8:30 and then from 8:30 to 9:00.
As you identify what you have been doing and how long it takes, it will become clear what is taking up all of your time. And perhaps, more importantly, what you can let go of.
Now it’s time to gain control over your calendar so you can master your business. Here are some tips:
- Schedule daily Time To Think (TTT) this is strategic thinking about your business. Stepping back from working “IN” your business.
- Where can additional training, or process development now, ease the time for tasks later?
- Block time for important tasks. The time log you just developed will help you better estimate how long you need for your various projects.
- Delegate. This is important. You need to learn how to help other people help you to grow your business. If you do not, you are the bottleneck on your success.
- Learn to say “no”, or at least “not right now”.
- Learn to group similar things together. For example, block out an hour to return phone calls at one time versus writing an email, reviewing the numbers and then making a call. Give your brain a break.
As a small business owner your task lists probably says “Everything.” You want to learn how to find the Big Rocks, the most important priorities, and schedule them and then keep your schedule. Don’t break the appointments you set with yourself.
Learn to use what Tony Robbins calls “Net Time”.
– Listen to audiobooks during the commute.
– Read the article or journal to keep up on your industry while waiting for an appointment.
– Listen to podcasts while exercising.
– Leverage walking meetings with your team. Take a walk and cover their goals and tasks.
Finally, commit to yourself, your team, and your business. When you learn to control your calendar, you will be one step closer to mastering your business.
Most professional services want to land the big clients,
that will sustain and grow your business over the long run. Let’s learn to understand and think like a big company and how that can help you plan your approach and find success.
Before you can start landing big clients, you have to ensure that your team is onboard with your approach and vision. There are some steps to big client success. They are:
- Your First Impression: You have one shot to land a big client. If you make a mistake, you are out. Don’t give them a reason to doubt you or your abilities.
- They Are A Priority: The Big Client should always feel like they are your first priority. Returns their calls and emails immediately.
- Be Flexible: You need to be flexible in your negotiations. If they want a special service or for you to customize a solution, say yes. A little hassle now will be a big pay off later.
- Think Long-term: This goes along with the last one a bit. As you are approaching and negotiating with big clients you need to think about the long-term benefits for your business. If you go for a one-time big score, you will lose their interest. This requires nurturing.
- Have Fun: Clients like working with people that are having fun. You are sharing your vision with new people and including them in your future success and likewise. You are contagious and your enthusiasm and confidence will attract the big clients.
- Think of Ways to Help Them: If you invest time and offer your clients ways to save money or time by introducing them to potential business partners, this will demonstrate that you are invested and interested them and in their business..
Here are a few tactics you can use to bring in a big company vision to the people on your team. You can:
- Post these keys for all to see.
- Put together a performance-based incentive program.
- Conduct frequent team meetings.
- Put together a training and certification program based on the keys above.
These ideas should help you instill a big-company mindset throughout your company which will help you be more prepared and more likely to land your big clients. When your team is thinking this way, you’ll be unstoppable.
If you would like some help crafting an incentive program or other way to push your team toward the big company mindset, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our coaches or check out our resources and tools.
It’s become an all-too-common challenge. You begin your day by going through email and Slack messages, deleting the twenty or more you don’t need or want. Then you work your way through those from your, co-workers, customers, and vendors. Along the way, you respond to texts, Zoom chats and maybe a phone call or two. Perhaps you check Linked In, Facebook and Instagram just to stay in the loop. Finally, you take a breath and realize that the first hour of your day has been consumed by the digital treadmill that saps your time and focus. Then it is on to the first project or meeting, all the while clearing a never-ending series of messages.
By mid-morning, you realize the edge is off the day’s energy. What you’re feeling is the impact of decision fatigue and the world seems to be awash in it. Decision fatigue is when you start making less-than-optimal choices because your thinking gets fuzzy due to your inability to focus. In some cases, you feel too tired or hesitant to make the decision, so you just don’t. This is all the result of your body exhausting the supply of blood glucose (sugar energy) created while you slept. Instead of concentrating on significant decisions, it has been squandered on the hundreds of micro-decisions demanding your attention.
But this scourge is not just confined to emails, text, and social media. Consider the last time you searched for something online, only to end up battling all the pop-ups designed to distract you from your mission. What about trying to choose between ultra-white, super-white or optic white toothpaste? Or maybe the 200 shades of white paint in the home center? Perhaps it’s the information overload forced on us by the 24-hour news cycle.
We all deal with decision fatigue. But some people manage it much better than others. I’ve spent the past few years figuring out how they do it. Here is a sampling of the strategies they use.
Reverse the first two hours of your morning. Refrain from grabbing your smart phone the minute you wake up. Instead, center yourself. Eat a healthy breakfast and prepare mentally for the day. When you begin work, do the most critical thing first. Complete a project. Conduct an important conversation. Outline the upcoming presentation. THEN check your email, texts and social media. This simple switch enables the best decision-makers to use the top of their energy on the tasks that really count.
Close your message apps. The job of tech companies is to distract you any way they can. After all, eyeballs mean money. Those who best manage decision fatigue, turn off the endless array of applications when not using them. This stops the pop-ups, the vibrations, the sound effects and other distractions that impede their concentration. Over time, people will accept that you only respond during certain times, including your team and customers. (This might even inspire them to do the same thing.)
Eliminate your APPoplexy. APPoplexy is having too many apps on your phone. Have you ever spent five minutes trying to save two minutes, because you couldn’t find the right app? I’ve met people with as many as 210. Most are never used. So, uninstall them. Waiting in line? Uninstall an app. Waiting for the movie to start? Uninstall an app. Waiting to pick up a food order? Uninstall an app. You get the idea.
Use these phrases to shorten meetings, regardless of whether you’re in charge.
- At the beginning of the meeting, ask, “So what are we going to accomplish here?”
- If you sense the meeting is drifting, ask, “Can we take a minute to review what we’re trying to accomplish?”
- Or, “I feel like we’re getting off track. What exactly are we trying to decide?”
Again, regardless of whether you’re in charge, it is acceptable to ask these questions.
Ask before you agree. Ever had someone ask for a “few minutes” of your time and end up spending more than an hour trying to extricate yourself from their task? When they ask, say “Perhaps, tell me what’s involved.” This will help you avoid time wasters and limit your unplanned commitments.
Frame commitments with time-limiting phrases. Here are a few that work effectively:
- “Sure, I’ve got three minutes. Will that be enough time?”
- “Let’s take five minutes right now and make a decision.”
- “I’m committed right now, but I’ve got ten minutes at ___ PM. Will that work?”
- “I’d be happy to help. Do you have all the details so we can make the decision?”
All of these will compel the other person to better organize their time and clarify the actual commitment.
Eliminate your multi-tasking. In spite of everyone claiming to multi-task, it is physically impossible. The brain can only attend to one task at a time. What we think of as multi-tasking is really time-slicing, bouncing back and forth between two or more tasks. Every time we bounce, we needlessly expend sugar energy. Those who beat decision fatigue focus on one task to completion and then move on.
My book, Overcoming Overwhelm, contains more than 40 of these proven strategies. You can order a free copy at www.decisionfatiguebook.com. Just pay shipping.
Bob Wendover, the author of Overcoming Overwhelm, helps managers to improve workplace decision cultures and get the people around them to think on their feet. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Do you remember a Snipe Hunt? One of the initiations into Boy Scouts was to send the Tenderfeet out on a Snipe Hunt. This was where the new guys were sent out at night to find and bag a Snipe.
From the Oxford Dictionary
- a practical joke in which an unwitting victim is sent in pursuit of something that doesn’t exist.
- “one or two gullible youths are selected to participate in the notorious snipe hunt”
- a foolish or hopeless search for or pursuit of something unattainable; a wild goose chase
You can watch the video or read the rest below.
I can remember my first hunt. I was a new Tenderfoot in Boy Scouts and we were out at Camp Nash. Joey and I were excited. About thirty minutes in, we knew something was off. And sure enough, the older scouts were having a hoot at our expense as we scoured the woods at night, looking for the elusive Snipe.
I see too many owners pursuing the elusive Snipes in their business. They are posting meaningless “look at me and my business” posts on Facebook or other Social Media sites. Or they are drinking gallons of coffee networking and wondering where the business is. Or they are spending dollar after dollar in one form of advertising or another without really knowing who their ideal customer is and where they are, in order to message them.
Or there is the business owner that has grown to the point where they now are working 60 – 70 hours a week trying to keep up with the workload of delivery and the back-office work necessary to keep the business running. All because they haven’t taken the time to hire the right people and then to have the policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) so the business can run while the owner is not in the shop.
I get it. Many owners are busy. And, if they can take an hour or so once a week to 1) Identify the key systems and processes that drive their business. 2) Start writing out the steps to fulfill each process. 3) Have each process reviewed by the people that will be performing the process. 4) Storing these where they are accessible for everyone that needs access.
For all of you gloriously self-employed, congratulations… you have a different kind of job. Creating a business requires that you step out of the business on a regular basis to work on the business so it can run when you are not there.
Being busy is a Snipe. You can’t escape being busy. But you can become more productive and focused by taking the time to identify and then to optimize the processes that drive your business. Do yourself the biggest favor. Schedule two hours a week to step out of your business to focus on your business. Your family and your bottom line will thank you.
And if you would like access to some resources to help, you can check out the resources at www.ras-squared.com
We all know those people. They might be friends, they might be colleagues, they might be potential partners. They are chronically late! Not by a couple of minutes but by 15 – 30 or even blowing off the meeting at the last minute because something “important” came up.
If this is you, pay attention:
– You are about to get fired
– You are about to get dumped
– You are going to be ghosted
I have a friend of the family who is chronically late. ALWAYS. The story I tell myself about that is, that we are not important to this individual and, therefore, let’s just stop getting together. You see, I have a belief system that says if I am on time, I am late. So, when you are late, you are saying this is not important.
There is a colleague of mine who is on the cusp of getting fired and they don’t understand why. They feel the “boss” has it in for her. The reality is she continually is either late or misses meetings because she has other issues that come up. If you have a meeting with the boss, unless someone is bleeding, or the business is on fire you better show up.
Time is like inventory. If it’s wasted, it is gone forever and executives are not willing to lose that kind of time.
I am going to assume that if you are late it’s not because you are just being a jerk. It’s probably because you do not know how much time things take. Here are some tips.
- For a week, keep a time diary. Every 15 to 30 minutes jot down or type into your device what you have been doing. And how long it took. For example, If you are meeting someone for lunch, time the time it takes you to grab your keys, go out to the car, drive to the location, park, and enter the building. Do not stop timing until you enter the building.
- When you sit down to write your blog posts, time it from start to stop including edits and proofs, how long does it take?
- When you decide to set five appointments, how many calls did it take and how long did it take you to schedule five?
Too often people say they will do something and be someplace by a certain time. And their alarm goes off either at the default 15 – minutes prior or at the time it was due. If you are going to a meeting at 9:00 and you get up from your desk at 9:00 to head to the meeting…you are late.
Don’t lose a job, a client, or a friend because you can’t manage your time. If you would like some help, check out the resources available at https://ras-squared.com
This was originally posted at johngies.com