Agonize or Organize
The most frequent excuse for not reaching a goal or completing a task is “There isn’t enough time.”
- The business owner grumbles about being bogged down with budget meetings, conference calls, vendor disputes and not having the time to launch the strategic planning sessions he’s been talking about for several months.
- The sales manager complains about wasting time putting out fires, approving special orders, chasing down reports, crunching sales numbers and not having the time to complete an accurate market analysis with which to create a targeted growth strategy.
- The salesperson complains that there just isn’t enough time to prospect for new business and still provide the appropriate level of service to existing customers.
They all agonize about time when it is just as easy and far more productive to organize it. The basis for all time organization is a plan - a personal plan that only you can devise and execute. Every minute you invest in planning saves you twice that amount of time in execution.
One: Define Your Goal
What exactly do you want to accomplish? What level of productivity do you want to reach? What project do you want to get off the ground? When you’ve identified what you want to accomplish, write it down. Be specific. Don’t generalize or use vague terms. “Growing your client base” is admirable. “Growing it by 10% in the next 90 days” is specific. If you want to earn more money, specify how much. Being specific allows you to develop measurable steps. Growing your client base by 10% in 90 days, for instance, might translate into six new clients. That means two new clients in each of the next three months…or one new client approximately every two weeks. Now, you can begin to focus on the activities necessary to identify and qualify prospects. And, you can estimate the amount of time needed for each activity. Let your history of accomplishments be your guide.
Two: Create a Timetable For Accomplishing Short-term Steps
Once you’ve determined your primary goal and identified the activities necessary to accomplish it, you can allocate and schedule an appropriate amount of time for each activity. Don’t try to do it all at once. Create a timetable or series of deadlines for yourself. Any project is easier to manage when broken down into smaller steps. Allocate segments of time on a regular schedule for each required activity. Allow a realistic time limit for each; then live up to it. For instance, rather than chain yourself to the desk and attempt to make all of your prospecting calls in one day, schedule shorter time periods—perhaps an hour and a half—on four days during the week.
Also, if a particular activity requires preparation time, allow for and schedule time for it as well.
Three: Do One Thing at a Time
A law of physics states that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The same holds true for thoughts. You cannot hold two thoughts in your mind at the same time. You can think about one thing; then another; then back to the first, but not both at the same time. If you’re working on one task while you’re thinking or worrying about another, the task at hand will suffer…and you’ll end up behind schedule.
Record your timetable and schedule for every day’s business activities— hour by hour—in your personal planner and/or calendar. If there are personal activities you must perform during the day, record them as well. Write everything down and then forget about it until pops up on your planner.
Four: “Spend” Your Time Wisely
How much is your time worth? Divide your present income by the amount of time you invest in your job and you can determine exactly how much each hour and minute is worth. Next, review the various activities you perform during the average work week. Is each and every activity worth the rate of pay you calculated? Are you wasting valuable time (and money) performing a job yourself that could be done just as well by someone else? Are you a $75-per-hour salesperson doing $15-per-hour work? That is, are you performing routine tasks every day, perhaps through habit that don’t merit your time? Can those tasks be delegated to someone else? The failure to delegate work can become a big stumbling block in the way of your progress.
Five: Do What Is Essential
In every task there are those elements that are absolutely essential…and there are those that are helpful. Don’t commit to performing the same task the same way day after day just because that’s the way you’ve always done it. Is every part of every step really essential to completing the task? Are the “helpful” elements really necessary? To determine essentials of tasks, ask yourself the following questions: Can this process be rearranged and still achieve the same result? Can the process be altered and improve the result? Don’t be afraid to shake things up. Commit to the outcome, not the process. The best time to begin to organize your time is NOW. Define your goals. Create a timetable and schedule. Do one thing at a time. Don’t spend dollar time on penny tasks. Concentrate on essentials.