Archive for September, 2011



Given the current state of things, the average worker is experiencing heavier work loads and added responsibility. It’s more important now than it has been in the past to manage yourself effectively.  Given that scenario, focus has to be on getting more done with fewer resources. It’s important to get to the top priorities, manage time and projects, empower and keep yourself  from burning out.

The challenge is that  we have too much to do.  Even our children have too much to do these days.  The key to getting past having too much to do is to determine what things are worthy of your time.  Before you can decide what things are worth your time, you have to know what your values are.  Look at every area of your life and think about the things that are important to you and create a list, then use that list when you are deciding what things are worth your time.  If you choose to place things on your agenda that are in line with your values, you are more likely to accomplish goals that you set around those things than you would be if they weren’t values based.  When you base what you do upon the things that are important to you, you are placing the focus on personal balance, which has to be your first priority.

A vital factor in managing workflow effectively is having an organized environment.  Whether you work in a company office or your office at home, it must be organized.  Think about the stress involved, not to mention the extra time it takes, when you simply can’t find something.  Now,  it may take a number of hours to get an environment completely organized, but it’s time well spent and it will keep you from wasting time in the future looking for that particular file or what ever it might be.  With your environment organized, you’ll be able to access what you need in a matter of seconds.

In addition to your values and getting organized,  be sure to set time to schedule and plan your week and your day.  At the end of one week, sit down and plan for the next and do the same thing each day.  At the end of your day, look to see what you have set for the next day.  There may be some adjustments that you have to make to your schedule because something was canceled or perhaps there is something that needs to be added.  If a task is going to take longer than 15 minutes to complete, it should go into your calendar and not just on your to-do list.  If it doesn’t go into your calendar, you take the risk of something not getting done that day and the added stress that comes with the day being upset.

Distractions and interruptions will disrupt your flow.  Turn off the email notification, or better yet, close your email while you’re working on other things.  For those hours that you’re working on top priorities, turn off the ringer on the phone or place it on do not disturb.  If someone transfers calls to you, ask for your calls to be transferred into your voice mail and check them later in the day.  If necessary, close your office door for a while so that you can focus on what you’re doing.  Constant interruptions can destroy your concentration and cause added stress.

Finally, you have to keep your well being a priority.  During the course of your day, no matter how busy you are, you have to take breaks to stretch, take a short walk and make time to eat right.  Nothing that you have to do can be more important than your well being.  Even if you implemented each of the aforementioned in managing your workflow, things won’t flow smoothly if you don’t incorporate your well being.  It is a key factor in making it all flow.


Time!  There never seems to be enough of it to get in all of the things we want or need to do.  One reason we never seem to have what we consider to be enough time is that time is elusive.  It’s intangible.  We can’t see or touch it, it can’t be captured or moved and it’s hard to conceptualize.

If we can change our perception of time and develop a more tangible view of it and change our habits, we can master it.  First we must realize that since time is not a tangible thing, there really is no such thing as time management.  Time management is self management; we have to manage ourselves.

Secondly, we have to realize that time management, or how we manage ourselves when it comes to our time, is personal.  We each have our own time management personality based upon our relationship to time.  If we don’t know that personality and have a tool that matches it, our level or productivity is not at its prime.  It’s easy to walk into your favorite office supply or technology service provider and choose a tool, but the tool you choose may not work for you if it doesn’t fit your time management personality.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  Years ago a friend of mine purchased what was then, the latest and greatest Palm Pilot and absolutely hated it.  She said it didn’t work for her.  It didn’t work for her because it didn’t fit her time management personality, which is why when she went back to her Franklin Planner, she was able to easily manage her time again.  Her time management personality traits were a fit for a paper tool rather than an electronic one.  Just choosing a tool to manage your time without knowing what type of tool fits is like walking into a store and buying an outfit or a pair of shoes without considering your size.  You have to understand how you relate to time and choose a tool accordingly.

Knowing your time management personality is a key component in reaching your goals.  Once you understand how you relate to time, you’re on your way to increased productivity, which is vital to success in both your personal and business lives.  If you struggle to manage your time, it’s likely that you struggle to get everything done, and as a result your productivity level is lower than it would be if you had the right tool and a system to support it. Once you have the right tool and a system in place, you can smoothly navigate through your days, weeks and months as well as any turning points in your personal or business life.  Personalizing your time management can increase not only your productivity, but that of your team.

Some think that no one ever has enough time or that productive people work harder than others and neither of these myths is true.  We all get the same amount of time–1,440 minutes every day; it’s how we invest it that makes the difference.  If we invest it wisely, we end up getting it all done, working smarter, not harder.  Time is our most valuable resource and no matter how hard we wish for it, we can’t get more of it.  What we can do is change our perspective of time and learn to manage it so that we get to what matters most.  When we do so, we increase our productivity and positively impact our bottom line.

If you’re looking to learn your own time management personality, join me for a webinar where you will Discover Your Time Management Personality.  If you miss the webinar or the replay, check out Personalizing Time Management.

 


With Labor Day behind us, now is the time to sit down and map out a plan for the year ahead.  Sadly, only 3% of people actually do this, which explains why so many people get to the end of the year and look back to see that they haven’t accomplished what they wanted to.

Now is the time to look at what you want to see come to pass in the next year and make a clear decision to see it come to fruition.  So, what do you want to do?  Maybe you’d like to make more money or get in shape.  Whatever it is you want to be up to in 2012, you need a road map to get there.  Would you drive across country without directions and a map to get there?  Of course you wouldn’t.  It’s time to start mapping things out for your drive right now!

If you’re ready, to create your master plan, this quick check list will guide you through the steps to get moving:

  • Start by crystallizing and creating solid values-based, S.M.A.R.T. goals
  • Determine the resources you need to get from Point A to Point B
  • Create a road map for each of the goals you create that includes milestones/points of accomplishments along the way.
  • Decide how you’re going to make or celebrate each milestone
  • Once your plan is complete, break the process down into the smaller tasks it will take to accomplish each goal
  • Place the smaller tasks into your calendar to get the steps done
  • Create check points along the way to stop to evaluate and measure your progress and make adjustments to the plan if necessary

These steps will get you off to a great start.  Once you get it done, be sure to stick to the plan to keep it going.  If you’re challenged when it comes to planning, visit our website and take a look at P3: Power Planning Package to see if it’s a fit for you.  It’s available at a special discount through the month of September.

 


Key #3 to effectively managing your time is having supportive habits.  We all are in the habit of doing certain things, whether they are good or what’s considered to be bad habits.  Habits are defined as “routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, tend to occur subconsciously, without directly thinking consciously about them”. Your habits are a prime factor in what leads you to being productive or not.  They make the difference when it comes to getting things done.

So, what are your habits when it comes to managing your time?  Do those habits support you or present more of a challenge for you?  Whatever you do all the time is what you do best.  If you have a bad habit it’s something that you do best and being good at whatever that is will keep you from your top level of productivity.  Your habits make you who you are.

To shift into habits that support you, you first have to understand that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit.  That’s the amount of time that it takes to train the brain.  Sometimes it takes longer.  I recommend that you give yourself 30 days to develop a new habit.  You might think that’s a long time, but it really isn’t.  You may not want to focus on too many new habits all at once.  Be realistic, patient and honor the process.

Start by writing down the new habits that you want to develop.  Your head is a dangerous place for commitments to hang out.  When you write them down they become real and you get clarity about what you want to create and what that means for you.  It also helps to keep you committed.

Once you have that clarity, enroll a friend in supporting you.  Share with them what habit you’re giving up and what you are creating.  Keep them in the loop on how you’re doing and of any challenges that come up for you.  Allow them to help you through the rough spots and get you back on track so that you can successfully develop the new habits.  If you find that you’re in need of more support, consider hiring a coach.  Make sure that your new habits are consistent and that you do them every day for 30 days.

Understand that you are going to go through a process with your new habits.  The first 30 days will present some challenges and you might even feel as though you want to quit.  After a few months it becomes easier to keep the commitment and things run smooth at that point.  Once you’ve reached a year or so, it becomes harder to not be in the habit because that habit has become part of your routine and part of who you are.

 


As a solopreneur or entrepreneur you’re beyond busy, so it’s important that your business learn like a well-oiled machine.  The way to have it running like that is to create systems with processes to help streamline things and to support you.

Within most businesses you’ll find filing, accounting, marketing and  client management systems.  Each of those systems has processes within it that are performed on a regular basis to keep things running.  In addition to the systems that I mentioned, you’ll need others that will support you running your business including a time management system.

Look at the systems that you currently have in place and ask determine what’s working and what’s not working.  Of the things that aren’t working, review the system processes and change them accordingly so that you end up with something that works for you.  You want processes in place that get the job done without extra energy or effort or disruption.  There may be systems that you have to add as well.  Look at the things that you do all the time and create systems around them.  If you don’t have anything in place at all, it’s time to get cracking.  Start with the basic systems that I mentioned above and add other systems that you need.

To give you a couple of practical examples, your filing system should consist of action, reference and archive files.  Action files are files that you use on a regular basis, such as vendor and client files.  Reference files contain information that you use occasionally for information and archives consists of last years’ files and go back as far as necessary.  I would recommend checking with your accountant to see how long you have to keep financial files.  Usually archives are kept in a different location than your other files, but they don’t have to be.

Another example is your time management system.  That system starts with the right time management tool and includes your master task list, daily to-do list and supportive habits like planning, prioritizing, goal setting and even saying “no”.  If technology is a fit for your time management personality, there are other tools that you might incorporate to support you.

As a regular practice, review your systems to see if they’re still supporting you as much as they should.  When things change in your business, it may call for changes to be made to the systems you have in place.

Having effective systems for all areas of your business results in less wasted time and money, fewer mistakes, mishaps and avoids negatively impacting your bottom line.

In my next post I’ll reveal Key #3.

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