Archives For time management

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Anytime I speak to someone about marketing, social media, etc., their response is always … “How do I find the time?”  Here is a fact – no matter how busy you are, you have to carve out time every day to market your business – or you will fail. It’s that simple. And just like your money, you have to tell your time where to go. It’s about setting priorities, understanding what’s important in your business for both the short term and the long term, and planning.

Here are a few recommendations for getting more out of your day.

1.  Keep a journal of how you are spending your time for 30 days. Review it at the end of each week to find areas for improvement.

2.  Get rid of any tasks or strategies that are not moving your business forward.

3.  Learn how to say NO! to anything or anyone who wants to waste your time.

4.  If it takes less than 2 minutes to do, do it now. DO NOT put it on your to do list.

5.  Use time blocking. For example, block 30 minutes to make follow-up phone calls, 1 hour to put together a direct mail piece, 10 minutes to post to your social media, etc.

6.  Develop better filters. (related to step 3) Get rid of bad clients and don’t waste time on “prospects” who will never buy from you. And if you care more about your client’s business than they do, let them go.

It really doesn’t take a lot of time to do what’s really important to grow your business. It just takes doing it. For example, if you are spending 15 minutes a day 3 times a week on social media, you are doing more than the majority of business owners. So by dedicating 3 hours a month to social media, you are leading the pack.

Not having the time is never a reason for not getting something done … it’s an excuse. All you have to do is tell your time where to go, be aware of how you are spending your time, and set boundaries. You will see a significant difference in what you accomplish over the next 30 days, if you follow these basic guidelines.

Is what I’m doing right now the best use of my time if I want to get more clients and make more money? If you don’t ask this question every minute of every day, it will be easy to get overwhelmed with long to-do lists (that never get done), which leads to frustration and stress. Then you end the week wondering where your time went.

Here is the solution. Each day, write down the three most important tasks you need to complete for that day. This doesn’t mean you only do those three things and quit for the day. It simply allows you to complete the three most important tasks in your business, for that day, before doing anything else. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and relieve some of your stress.

You could write down a task that takes 2 minutes or one that takes two hours. Just make sure whatever you write down is doable, and make sure you allot a certain number or a certain amount of time to each task. You can make 3 sales calls, spend one hour prospecting, 15 minutes updating your blog. Whatever you do, make sure it’s measurable. Then, once these tasks are completed, you can move on to something else. It can be something totally different or you may want to go back to one of your tasks, such as making 3 sales calls, and make a few more calls.

Here is an example of the three things I wrote down for Monday – 1) Make 20 sales calls, 2) Spend 1 hour working on a client project, 3) Create and schedule my newsletter. All three tasks are measurable and they were tasks that I could actually complete. After I completed the three tasks, I had time to write a direct mail piece that I will be sending to dentists this week. I also sent a few follow up postcards and emails.

As you know, this is the time of year when everyone is making their New Year’s resolutions. Don’t worry about making a resolution. Take a couple of hours to figure out what you want to accomplish for the coming year. Map out a plan of action. Then write down the three most important tasks you have to do today that will get you one step closer to achieving your goal.

Do not let 2013 end wondering where the time went. Just like everyone else, you have 24 hours in each day. The main difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is how they use their time. By implementing the strategy I laid out for you in this newsletter, you will be much more effective in how you use your time.

My challenge to you is to give this a try for 30 days. If you will do this, it will start to become a habit that will dramatically change your business (and your life).

The next 30 days could determine whether you succeed or fail in your business. in the next 30 days, you could increase revenue and get more clients. But, what will it take to make it happen.

Most people can do anything for 30 days. If find yourself stuck in a rut, or if you have plateaued in your business, then creating a 30-day challenge for yourself may be just what you need. The first step is to write down 3 things you want to accomplish over the next 30 day period and figure out the necessary steps to make sure you take action on whatever you write down.

If you can’t think of anything, here are ten ideas that should help trigger your thought process:

1. Post to one of your social media accounts (or all of them) every day for 30 days.

2. Write one article per week and post it to ezinearticles.com.

3. Record one video per week to share your expertise and post it to YouTube, Vimeo.

4. Write one blog post per week.

5. Create a product. This could be a 25 page ebook, a 20 minute audio CD of training material, or whatever fits your business and helps promote your expertise.

6. Commit to making 3 sales calls every day. (For perspective, all the successful sales people I know make 100 calls per week.)

7. Commit to doing something to market your business every day.

8. Work 12 hour days over the next 30-days. This may sound like a lot for some of you, but think about how this could impact your business if you just commit to doing this for 30 days and work smart to get everything done.

9. Attend one networking event per week for 30 days.

10. Stretching every morning and spending time to meditate and think about your day and what you want to accomplish. This will energize you and improve your productivity.

Hopefully, the list above helped to generate a few ideas for you. Just think about your own 30-day challenge and how it will impact your business. Write down 3 things you will commit to doing over the next 30 days. Don’t let another month pass with the same results at the end.

Creating a sense of urgency in your business is one of the most important things you can do to experience both solid growth in your business and personal growth. But you have to focus that sense of urgency on what’s important in your business.

Steven Covey said, “If we don’t have a clear idea of what’s important, of the results we desire in our lives, we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent.” He says you must focus on what’s important, not what’s urgent.

For example, you may be gaining momentum in your sales and marketing efforts when you get an email telling you how to make $100k in the next month with very little work. And some people may fall for these type or similar things because they are looking for the easy way to get ahead. I refer to these type side trips as shiny things. They may seem urgent, but they are not important. You don’t want to lose your focus and momentum in your business by chasing shiny things.

Here is how you can prevent yourself from taking side trips in your business or in your life, and how you can create a sense of urgency for the important things you need to do.

Number one is stay focused. Don’t get distracted from the main goal in your business, which should be to make money, so you can keep the doors open and help more people.

Number two is know what’s important to you. Make a list of the 3 most important things you want to accomplish in your business on a daily basis. And ask yourself, “is this getting me closer to where I want to be”. If it’s not, then you don’t need to be doing it.

Number three is to have someone in your life who holds you accountable for your actions and helps keep you on your track. This is so valuable for keeping you focused on the important things and for maintaining that sense urgency in your business.

And number four is to be confident in whatever you do and keep moving forward regardless of circumstances, failures, or setbacks so you can maintain your sense of urgency regardless of your circumstances or what’s going on around you.

Whether using iCloud for my Mac devices or using Microsoft’s SkyDrive to create a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation, these are great tools to keep track of important information in your business. and they are available to everyone on the Cloud.

Most people have several devices to keep up with, such as an iPhone, iPad, laptop. And keeping all these devices in sync is almost impossible without using iCloud.

iCloud allows you to enter your information on any device and it automatically updates all your other devices almost immediately. It works with Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and allows you to keep your calendar synced. Im sure you’ve seen the Mac commercials, so you get the idea. It works. And you get 5GB of free storage.

Microsoft’s SkyDrive is another tool you can use to keep all your data in the cloud. The additional advantage of SkyDrive is you have access to free versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint that you can use within SkyDrive to create a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation. You can then share it or download it to your computer.

Amazon also has their version of the cloud. I currently use iCloud and SkyDrive but haven’t yet experienced Amazon’s Cloud. They also give you 5GB of free storage.

There are several advantages to using the cloud. It offers a cost-effective way to get more storage and allows you the flexibility of being able to share your documents, spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations, pictures, etc. with anyone regardless of your location.

Cloud storage also allows you to easily scale up or down depending on your storage needs.

So check out these great free tools and welcome to the 21st century.

Several times in the past few years, I’ve had clients who called me as a last resort. They were going under for the third time and sinking fast. Their expectations (or hope) was that I could turn their business around in a few days.

It took them years of bad decision making to get to where they are, but they want everything fixed in 30 days or less. Oh, and by the way, we don’t want to invest any more money in our business because we can’t afford anything else. But fix it and fix it fast.

NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!

It takes, at a minimum in most cases, 90 days to see any real results and usually 6-months to a year of hard work (80 hour weeks) to start turning a failing business around.

When you look at developing a brand or fixing a damaged brand, you are looking at 6 – 12 months.

Developing a social media strategy? You are facing 6 – 12 months of consistent effort to start seeing results.

Got a new website? 6 – 12 months of consistent effort working on your SEO (search engine optimization) to get ranked well in Google. You may get lucky and get to the first or second page in the first 30 days, but it takes work to stay there.

Have people seen results in each of the scenarios I mentioned above in a couple of days? Yes, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Marketing takes time. I was speaking with a very successful friend of mine last week and he told me about a couple of clients that took him almost a year to land. A lot of schmoozing and a lot of phone calls. And he is a multi-millionaire with a great track record in sales.

Everything takes time. You cannot turn a business around in a few days. You can start taking action to turn the business around, but it will not happen overnight. The people who seem to get the best results are the ones who are constantly trying to improve their business, even when things are going extremely well. They surround themselves with the coaches, consultants, and assistants they need, and they spend the money to make sure they are doing the right things to remain successful.

I was reminded of all this when I got a call from a former client a few days ago that I will start working with again next week. Things are going well in his business, but he realizes he needs to surround himself with people who can take him to an even higher level. That is the reason for his success.

Don’t wait until you are going under for the third time. Don’t spend years “trying to make things work”, struggling, and going deeper into debt before you call in the troops.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Find a coach, consultant, or whatever you need in your business … NOW … before you need them. This is what successful people do.

We have been trained to be store clerks, gas station attendants, grocery baggers, and we have even become our own travel agent. That is the premise of a book written by Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher and social critic, in 1981 titled “Shadow Work”.

Shadow work, according to Wikipedia, is the unpaid labor in any economy through self-service.

Recently, Chris Lambert wrote an article in The New York Times titled “Our Unpaid, Extra Shadow Work”.

Shadow work does not just affect front line workers. It affects everyone from top-level executives on down the chain.

Where top-level executives of days gone by had a secretarial pool to take care of correspondence and other tasks, they now do a lot of their own communication through email, texting, and making their own phone calls.

If you are in a store and need to check the price on an item, then you become what used to be a paid store clerk because many retailers now have scanning devices placed strategically around the store so you can check your own prices.

Think about the time you spend on shadow work. Most people spend around one minute and 30 seconds every day deleting spam from their email. This is around nine hours of unproductive time every year.

Now think about how much time you spend pumping gas, making reservations, bagging your own groceries, etc. and you’re not getting paid for any of it. How many hours (or weeks) a year are you spending on shadow work?

When did this happen? How did they manage to totally remove customer service and make us do everything for ourselves … with no compensation?

All of this has also impacted our economy. How many travel agents have lost their jobs because people go online and make their own travel arrangements? How many people in retail have lost their jobs because we bag our own groceries and perform the entire checkout process ourselves?

If you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed, then shadow work may be partially responsible.

I am not saying shadow work is good or bad. I actually like the speed and convenience of self-checkout.

It’s just the world we live in. Everyone has more and more on their plate and shadow work is responsible for a part of it.

What are your thoughts on the impact of shadow work?

Are you making the most of your time on any given day? It is more important now than ever before to be productive in everything you do. Many people have been downsized from their companies and are wondering what to do next. Others are starting small businesses and not sure what to do first.

People spend time in front of their computer thinking they are being productive while reading email, managing their online social networks, taking care of their finances, or chatting with friends. Although some of this time can be considered productive time, it may not be the best use of their time. I searched the web for time wasters and actually found pages of websites dedicated to how you can waste even more time. As if we don’t already have enough time-wasters already in place.

Here are three common time-wasters:

1. Attending networking events that produce no real leads. There is nothing wrong with socializing when the opportunity arises, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because you are attending a networking function that you are being productive and moving your business forward. Consider the time it takes to drive to and from the event and the time spent at the event. You may be consuming several hours. I am a firm believer in building relationships and developing the know, like, trust factor, but you can reach a point of diminishing returns after a few months of participation in these networking events with no results.

2. Spending too much time with online social networks and other technology. This is another area where people mistakenly think they are being productive. This is a very important strategy for your business, but should you really be doing it during the day or spending late hours at night working on them?

3. Having coffee or lunch with “potential” clients. Set a time limit for yourself for every meeting. Try to make appointments during your downtime — early morning, lunch, or late evening. Make sure you have a purpose or goal for the meeting. Learn to “qualify” people quickly so you know if you want to pursue this business relationship.

Are you doing things during the day that you could do later in the evening? Would your daytime hours be better spent making sales calls or attending productive networking events or spending time with qualified prospects?

So, what is the solution? How can you avoid wasting your valuable time?

Here are three tips to help you make better use of your time:

1. Use time blocking to get everything done. This is simply blocking out a specific amount of time to work on a task. For example – spend 1 hour at a networking event, 3 hours on sales calls, 30 minutes following up with prospects and clients.

2. Keep track of your time for one week. Write down every hour of the day and everything you do in your business that day. At the end of the week, review what you have written and look for ways to rearrange your schedule and to be more productive.

3. Every day ask yourself this question – Is what I am doing today moving me closer to my ultimate goal and generating revenue for my business? This one question can make a huge difference in your business and in your life.

Time really is money. You must learn to differentiate between tasks that are making you money and tasks that are not making you money. Make sure you are investing your time in the appropriate strategies and tasks that will help you reach your personal and business goals. Find the time-wasters and get rid of them. Evaluate every day to see what you can do better. In a nutshell, just be more aware of how you are spending your time.

Let me know what you consider to be your biggest time-waster.

How many times have you heard someone say the following: “I don’t have time to market my business.” “I am just too busy.” We never seem to have the time to do the things we want to do in our business on a daily basis. Constant interruptions, phone calls, and e-mails engage us throughout the day. How do we handle the flow of information that interrupts us constantly during the day? Time blocking is the answer. What is time blocking?

Time blocking is setting aside a predetermined amount of time to do the activities that you want to work on for the day.

Here is an example of one of my days using time blocking:

1 hour on reading and responding to e-mail.
1 hour following up with contacts and clients.
1 hour writing.
2 hours going to a networking event.
1 hour working on database and list.

That is a total of six hours out of my day, and I am assured of working on these tasks. They may not be complete, but I have spent an allotted amount of time on each task to make sure it gets the attention it deserves. This does not mean you can’t do anything else that day. It simply means you will at the very least accomplish these tasks. You are almost guaranteed you will accomplish something during your day. Wipe the slate clean for the next day and block out 4 to 8 hours for performing a few more tasks that will move your business forward. And it could be some of the same tasks carried over from the previous day.

So, what tasks do you need to get completed on a daily basis? And “I don’t know” is a correct answer. This is the first step in acknowledging you are not doing the right things everyday to build and grow your business. Spend a few minutes and come up with something. Even if you just think of one thing … write that down.

Make a list and set aside a specific amount of time to work on the task. In order to be effective in marketing your business and building your business, you must give it the time that it deserves. Like anything else, you must do this long enough for it to become a habit. I would recommend doing this for at least 5 days. After that amount of time you will should have no problem blocking out time, monitoring your time, and watching your business grow as a result.

How many times have you ended the day and wondered what did I accomplish today? So many times we get caught up in being “busy” during our day and before we know what hit us, the day is over. We spend time doing this for a minute or two, then we do something else for a few minutes, and then come back to what we started earlier in the day. This is not good time management. In this day of multitasking, some people take a sense of pride in being overwhelmed and “just too busy” to get anything done. Hours go by, days go by, and yes, even years go by without ever accomplishing anything.

Here is the solution. Time blocking can provide structure in your day and allow you to complete tasks or at least complete a large part of a task before moving on to something else. Here is how it works. Decide on the tasks you will do for a particular day. Instead of just having a “to do” list with everything listed in order of importance and working down the list, take a few items from the list that are top priority for accomplishing what you need to accomplish, and block out whatever time you want to allocate to that task. This can be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours. The point is to only allocate the allotted time to each task.

Here is an example. Today I want to write an article, follow-up with 3 contacts, go to a 1 networking event. I will allocate 1 hour to writing the article. This is a focused effort on just writing the article. Whether I finish the article or not is irrelevant. I will only spend one hour on writing the article. I will do the same for the other two tasks. I will allocate 30 minutes to following up with contacts, and allocate 2 hours to the networking event. By doing this you are sure to, at the very least, accomplish these tasks. You will not end your day wondering where the time went and what you accomplished.
Give this a chance and try it for 5 consecutive days and see if you have improved productivity, less stress, and more time to do the things that are important to your business and your life.