May 15, 2010
March 30, 2009
We have been busy all day but did not get a single thing done! It seems to be a common frustration. You wake up early, get home late, and you weren’t able to get one thing done to move forward because you were so busy doing all the little stuff that needs to be done in order to keep the day going and put food on the table. The biggest complaint I get, is when a prospect complains about not having time to work out.
The truth is that if you could avoid and/or properly manage the following list of time wasters and energy killers, you would be free to grow in profound ways:
1. Multi-tasking – Every time you have to shift gears to work on something else, you are not giving the original thing you were working on your full attention. It is very important to absorb yourself with one thing at a time, give that thing your fullest attention and complete it (at least the part you were planning to complete now) before moving. Otherwise, things are going to be done half-assed.
2. E-mails– E-mails are one of the biggest time wasters known to man in the modern world. They can be an important and valuable tool that, but the sad fact is that people let their inbox rule their day. I have time set daily where I respond to my e-mails, typically later in the day, because earlier in the day I want to do things that will move my business move forward, to help me make the future dollar, and to grow my business. When you are answering e-mails, you’re in the reactive mode; you’re responding to other people’s needs. Now, I understand that this needs to get done, but typically I’ll put this off until later in the day, and I have a scheduled time that I do this. If all the e-mails don’t get done in that time, oh well, I’ll get to them the next day. Typically, when I do an e-mail it is only a few short sentences. If it needs to be longer, usually a quick phone call will handle it better than an e-mail. Most e-mails can wait 48 to 72 hours to be responded to. We live in a society where we act as if we have to jump every time someone wants us to jump.
3. Phone calls – Phone calls are another time waster. Therefore, typically what I do is return phone calls once a day at the same time I do e-mails. I’ll do my e-mails, and then return my phone calls. This way I can pre-screen my calls, know who I’m calling, know what it’s about, and it can be on my terms. In today’s society, many of us run around with cell phones attached to our hip, and we act as if those cell phones are for everybody else’s convenience. The truth is that my cell phone is for my convenience, as your cell phone is for your convenience, as Tom’s cell phone is for Tom’s convenience, and Sally’s cell phone is for Sally’s convenience. One strategy that works great is to let people know that you will be returning phone calls during a set time of the day. So what you can do is let everybody who you work with is that you will be returning phone calls between 3:00 and 3:30. Another thing that I find very useful is to let people know, when you get on the phone, that you only have 2 or 5 or 10 or 15 minutes, or whatever time from you think you need to get that phone call done. Some people might think you’re being selfish with your time when you treat your phone in this way, but I say I think if there’s one thing you SHOULD be selfish with it’s your time. Usually, the people who get annoyed aren’t all that important anyway, and if they are and you explain your reasons they soon will understand.
4. Text messaging – Yes, sometimes text messages can be valuable and you can get a quick message to somebody; but this whole back and forth text messaging is a complete and utter waste of time! There is nothing that irritates me more than driving down the road and seeing the person drive next to me swerving around because he/she is text messaging.
5. The OCD Loop– Many times on a daily basis I would check my text messages, phone calls, internet-marketing rankings, e-mails, etc. I would do this in a loop, about every hour or two. This is a huge time waste! Now I have a scheduled time, once a day, where I get these activities out of the way. Instead of doing this multiple times through out the day, which I’m convinced was wasting many hours of my day, I schedule it once a day, usually in the second half of the day, and whatever doesn’t get finished in that time period gets forwarded to the next day. This system as saved me at least 10 hours per week.
6. Time Vampires – These are people, who just want to sit and chat, waste your time and drain you of your energy. I absolutely refuse to get into a conversation with one of them. Some people do this at a sub-conscious level but nonetheless, they are doing it and I am not going to have any part of it. What I found that works really well is if you look busy! Generally, people don’t bother a busy person. I recently had a vendor randomly pop in my office demanding to see me after I had previously told this person to make sure they have an appointment in order to talk with me. I think it is kind of rude when someone pops in on your time, demanding to rob your time, when you might be dedicating your time to other matters.
7. Not Using Time Blocks- If you don’t have a planned schedule of what you’re going to do with your time, that time will get taken up by little things seem urgent and seem like they need to get done. The truth is, most of these things are not important, but they will fill your time if you allow it to. It is almost law that any part of the workday that is not planned out will get filled with seemingly urgent task. It is extremely important to have your day blocked out in a set schedule of time blocks so you know what’s going to get done at what time, and it is very important to stick to that routine.
8. Do your most important workthat moves you toward your goals first thing in the morning. Do not start your days with e-mails or responding to people’s phone calls. Like I said, this puts you in the reactive mode, responding to other people’s needs and values. By the end of the day, you want to be able to know that even if you only did that one thing in the morning, and that is all you did, at least you know you moved towards your goal. I start my day off with something that moves me towards my goals.
9. The “Crackberry” aka Blackberry. I refuse to own one. I have a simple phone that I use for phone calls only. The last thing I want to do is carry around my e-mail with me everywhere I go. Enough said.
10. Working when hungry. Do not allow yourself to get hungry when you are working. You will be less efficient, you will bring a negative energy to the things you do, you will be agitated, ineffective, and a bad person to be around. The key is to eat small meals with a balance of protein, healthy fats, and high fiber every two to three hours. These meals should sustain you until the next meal. This kind of eating strategy will help you feel good, give you energy, and will keep you focused.
11. Interruptions – Do not allow interruptions during your day. Let people know that you respond to e-mails and phone calls only at a certain time of the day and to only come to you at other times if it is an emergency.
Bottom line is to focus your time and energy on the highest value, highest profit driven activities, that moves you closer to your goals. I once read a newsletter by John Carlton where he talked about putting tasks into A, B, and C piles. The ‘A’ pile, are things that are the most important to moving you towards your goals, and that absolutely should be done by you. The ‘B’ pile is what you can delegate out to somebody else. The ‘C’ pile are things that are just not that important and should go in the garbage. The goal is for you to spend your time doing the ‘A’ tasks, find any of the A tasks that can be moved to B tasks, and get rid of the B tasks that can be moved to the C pile (the trash can).