Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Taking Back Your Schedule

"Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!" A.Robbins

Whether you are the Jim in Jim's Plumbing and Heating or the Verna in Flowers by Verna; whether your small business is operated out of a rented space with its own water cooler or a home office/back-bedroom, for the small business owner time is a precious commodity.  The busier you get -- and that is the idea after all! -- the more precious your time becomes.

As your business grows you will no doubt find yourself being tugged and pulled in what may feel like a million directions.  At the end of the day, you may feel as though you've spent your time chasing your tail rather than making the progress necessary to stay on top.   You are likely to arrive home exhausted and wanting the name and number of the inventor of the phrase Work Life Balance.  And it's only Tuesday.

While few of us may be able to "master" time, most of us can leash it a bit!  Here are a few observations and suggestions to help you do just that:

Tail Chaser:  "To do two things at once is to do neither."    Publius Syrus.  

Good old Publius was right: multi-tasking doesn't work.  Well, at least not the way we've been encouraged to do it for decades.   Often we feel that if we can do two things at once then we have used our time so much more effectively.  We have cheated the clock!  Too soon, what we find is that it is much more likely we've cheated our customer out of the attention they deserve and ourselves out of the pride that comes from knowing our name is attached to something really first quality.  

Solution:  Go ahead and love your multi-tasking, but do it in blocks of time.  There's a difference between multi-tasking and doing two things at once!    Spend the first or last 15 minutes of your day reviewing the priority list you've prepared the evening before.  Become familiar with when you had planned to start and end each task -- and do it!  Yes, even if you just need five more minutes ...!  Learning to take control of your time -- rather than the other way around -- will make you more effective than you may imagine.

Tail Chaser:   "Um."

Solution:  You may be surprised how many hours of your business life are spent "hemming and hawing" when you already really know your answer.   Taking a deep breath and telling a vendor "No" the first time will save you the many interruptions that will come from their calls when they are simply looking for that decisive "Yes or No"!

Tail Chaser:  "Oh -- do we want to talk about ...?"

Solution:  To meet without an agenda is an enormous taker of your time!  Choose a start time for your meeting -- but choose a logical duration (and stick to it!) as well.  The experts tell us that meandering meetings are one of the biggest time drainers.   Be smart about scheduling -- you want to be certain to leave enough time between meetings to actually do something productive.  A fifteen minute break will likely only give you a five-free-minute window -- enough time to do nothing!

Tail Chaser:  "I'll just finish this one thing  and head home ..."

Solution:  Stop "working" 30-minutes before you leave for the day.  Take those minutes and organize your desk (ugh! , but a messy desk is a huge time waster), and spend a few moments reorganizing your thoughts.  Reviewing the day.  Making notes as you go for tomorrow.   Prioritize the next day's tasks and leave your schedule book open on your desk or print out your to-do list so that it's the first thing that you see when you arrive in the morning.   Scrambling takes not only time, but drains energy!  Having things ready to go first thing will give you a calm first-look as your day begins. 

These are just a few observations and solutions that we have identified -- we could go on and on listing those Tail Chasers -- and know that we all have our own to add to this list, as well. 

The Cordial Team welcomes you to share your Chasers and solutions and will continue to blog about ways to ... leash!

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