When I mention the word Time Management, what comes to mind? If you are like most people I know you think of boring, tedious and hard to stick with processes. Now, let me ask you another question, do you spend most of your time in reactive or a proactive mode? Which do you believe would be most beneficial to your business? When you are in reactive mode are you focused on the biggest impact area of your business or are you focused on an employee or a customer’s problem?
If you own and/or run a business and you are not spending specific time consistently working on the major impact areas of your business, then you are falling behind your competition. So what is an impact area? It is an area of your company that will have a direct impact on the bottom line. It could be sales or marketing; customer service; inventory or accounts receivable control; or a new product launch. Decisions you make every day affect where you spend your time and therefore by definition affect the ongoing impact you have on the bottom line.
So how does time management come into play? According to Chet Holmes, in his book entitled The Ultimate Sales Machine, there are six strategic steps that if followed daily will provide the opportunity to operate in a proactive manner, focused on what you want to be focused on.
- The first step is to touch it once. If you touch anything, then take action. If you open an e-mail, respond and file or delete it accordingly. If you pick up a piece of paper or open the mail, then deal with it, don’t set it aside for future consideration. One thought when responding to e-mails is if you change the topic of the e-mail string then change the subject line
- Make Lists. According to Chet, keeping lists will double your productivity. To be effective, list the six most important things that need to be completed today.
- Next determine the amount of time you will realistically spend on each task. Often a large task or project can be handled efficiently if you develop the specific tasks related to it that you will accomplish that day.
- Plan your day. Be specific and make sure you leave time to do the necessary things that need to be done, like time with staff, answering e-mails etc. time for the real emergencies that will occur.
- Prioritize-you should be working every day on those items that will move your company forward, your impact areas. This is the proactive part of time management. In addition, if you want your staff to become efficient, then examine what they are working on and when. People respect what you inspect.
- Throw Away. Do you really need to keep everything on your desk or that comes in the mail or that an employee gives you? If it is a distraction and you can obtain it when you need it then move it out of your office.
During the day stuff happens. The critical piece to remember is to deal with the emergency then get back to your plan of working on what is most important to your business.