How many of us have been in a position where we have more to do than can realistically fit into one day, or week. So we spend all of our time feeling rushed, being rushed, and wondering how on earth we are going to manage. If you are having that feeling of overwhelm in your business, it's time to take stock of what's going on.
How well you manage yourself and the time you have, is crucial to your success. Wasted time equals lost opportunities. Lost opportunities equal lost business and profits.
Time can't be "saved" - it's an impossibility. You can't find more of it - it's a fixed commodity. You can only manage your activities as time passes. So how are you spending the 60 seconds in each minute - the 60 minutes in each hour - the 1,440 minutes in each day?
What you need is to achieve is working on your top priorities in the most effective way. Here are 10 great strategies for doing just that.
Lesson 1: Prioritize Aside from just listing what needs to be done, rank them from most important to least important. And then complete them in that order. Too often we start with the easy stuff or the quick stuff, regardless of how important it is. Look at the list of things that need to be done. Hi-light the activities that you could put on hold if you had to. How much time could you free up if you put some of those activities on hold?
Be realistic about the number of priorities you have. Most of the activities we are involved in are things we want to do. The problem with overwhelm is that there are many more things we want to do, than we physically have time for. So create some space by telling yourself that you are just putting some activities on hold for now. You are not giving them up forever, but you are giving yourself permission to put some activities on hold - so you can focus on the most important priorities. This may force you to make some tough choices - but it's a pretty empowering thing to do.|
Lesson 2: Be ruthless with e-mail. What a productivity killer email can be if misused. Use a private email address for clients and customers. Get everything else sent to a generic or alternate email address. That way you can deal with your client issues first, and the rest when you have time.
Only respond to your emails at set times during the day. I personally do emails first thing in the morning, and between 2 and 3pm each day. There's no need to respond the instant that you receive an email. This approach simply means you get interrupted all the time, and your productivity remains low.
Lesson 3: Restrict your use of the telephone. Try to devote a certain time of the day to both return and originate phone calls. Carrying a mobile telephone makes us feel as though we've got to be "connected" at all times - but this is just plain crazy. And just because someone calls us doesn't mean we have to answer immediately. Some people I now work extremely effectively by restricting calls to two periods during the day - one period in the morning to make all their calls, and another in the afternoon to return calls and to followup. At all other times, voicemail takes any messages. This may not work for your business, but the idea of not answering the telephone unless it is at a good time for you can really help you with the continuity of your work
Lesson 4: If you don't have time for something, just say so. There is no need to listen politely if you've already decided the conversation is not of interest. Simply say - "I am sorry to interrupt you, but I don't have time for this right now." Yes it's direct, but then you are not sitting there feeling frustrated about the time you are wasting.
Lesson 5: Limit your availability: This is one of the keys to beating overwork. Unexpected and unplanned interruptions and distractions can "steal" your day. An "open door" policy is fine, but not if it has a negative impact on productivity and profitability. Actually schedule time when you can't be interrupted, and let everyone know about it. During that time you don't answer emails, you don't answer the phone and you don't talk to others - you just do whatever it is you've got to do - no interruptions.
Lesson 6: Protect your productive time Each of us knows if we are a morning person or a night owl. We know if our peak productivity times are at 7 am or at 11pm. So make sure you are free and uninterrupted at those times. Try and make this time just for you and devote the activities that need your brain the most at the times you are most productive.
Lesson 7: Plan your day the night before I know - you've heard it before. But spending 5 minutes at the end of the day preparing for the next day helps to orient you in advance and mentally sets you up. So when you get up in the morning, you're ready to go! Do whatever works for you - make lists of activities, check your calendar, enter tasks into your electronic task list, schedule a couple of uninterrupted hours in your diary, tidy away your papers and get tomorrow's ones ready to go. Do whatever you need to to feel comfortable about the next day's work.
Lesson 8: Don't get buried by paper When possible, try to "touch" each piece of paper only once. File it, act on it or toss it! (Periodically, every quarter, purge your files. If you haven't touched it in 3 months, you probably never will...so toss it!). As the saying goes: "Do it, ditch it, or delegate it!"
Lesson 9: Group your appointments If you have several appointments or errands, try to group them all in the same day so that all of your external travel and time is scheduled for one or two days in the week. That leaves you 3 full days in the office without the need to go out for meetings.
Lesson 10: Confirm appointments: Never assume that your 1 o'clock is on! The realization that you've been "stood up" is both frustrating and irritating. A simple phone call or e-mail message, saves time, energy and anxiety.
Management expert Peter Drucker, once declared, "Time is the scarcest resource." Time really isn't scarce, it's uniform and constant. However, your ability to manage it is crucial to your success. If you can't get this part right, you may not need to not worry about cash management!