These days, business owners, VP’s, directors, sales people, development officers and pretty much anyone who works, all have the same lament:
“I just don’t have enough hours in the day.”
It’s a vicious cycle: more to do, better resources and technology help accomplish those items—making them less labor intense, so then we add things to manage, report and thus, we have more to do.
So, then we all become guilty of diluting our core priorities and handling those fires that will “burn your house down” before we focus on the activities that will “build your house up.”
How do you turn this around and buy back more time?
Here are 2 strategies to get back your Priority Time:
Sound contradictory? Take a look at your core activities you should be doing—on a daily and/or weekly basis:
Generating Leads/Market Prospecting
Research and Preparation
Writing/Creating—blogs, social media, emails, marketing, proposals
Calling Prospects or Customers
You may or may not accomplish all of these activities but how effective are you in achieving your objectives if these actions are randomly or reactively scheduled, spread out or pushed off for other priorities?
In order to make sure you dedicate the time to the true priorities that move your business and your objectives forward, give them their very own time slot on your calendar.
Schedule your most important blocks—give them their own colors, names and meanings so they can easily be recognized and communicated to anyone who tries to impose on those activities:
Here are the top priorities with reoccurring appointments on my calendar. I give them names that speak to me and the weight they carry in my business:
“Green Time”—dedicated blocks of time that have the highest direct impact on revenue
Asking for referrals, et cetera
“Code Blue”—time set aside specifically to prepare for Green Time
Research—competitive market, influences
Prospect’s initiatives, contacts, press
Developing talking points, scripts, voicemail messages
“Orange Zone”—creative time to build the materials that support objectives
Blogs & social media content
These appointments have top billing and though “schtuff” happens, I don’t ever cancel the appointments with myself, I move them and keep those priorities.
Making these appointments a priority makes it harder to blow them off for things that “blow up.” You’ll find that when you operate with a deep commitment to the time that generates results, fewer “fires” flare up and need immediate attention.
Which is supported by the second strategy:
Unplug and Shut the Door.
That “open door” policy is good, until it’s not. Being available to answer questions and help your employees or colleagues can back fire on you when you consider the cost—
Derailing your focus and concentration
Opening you up to future consultation on the subject/problem
Getting off subject or side tracked with personal conversations
Getting in the middle of email chains and communication
Consider unplugging from email, phone calls and blocking out “office hours” so you can buckle down and work distraction free for set periods of time. This works in conjunction with setting your Appointment blocks on your calendars to focus on your top priorities.
Note—this is a tough change, though, that requires you to say “No,” or “Not right now” or better yet, “I have scheduled time tomorrow between 2 and 4 to focus on that project, let’s talk then.”
If someone isn’t literally on fire, it can wait—they’ll come back when you’re focused on that problem at that time, or, they’ll figure out the answer themselves. This position cuts down on a lot of personal conversation hijacking, eliminates extraneous emails, back and forth and makes “decisions” the focus of meetings, instead of “discussions” because you’ve set the bar to come to the table prepared and ready. Don’t let other people dilute your priorities – set yourself up to make that difficult.
Training your employees or colleagues and even clients that your focus is on your priorities can be a tough transition but will protect and optimize your time and even inspire them to get organized and be more productive and effective too.
Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!