Phones going off, email constantly arriving in your boxes and now today we have this idea of wearable technology like smart watches, and even glasses! Its amazing that we even have time to get anything done with all this distraction that goes one throughout the day. Not having a plan for your day can be very un-rewarding. You stress yourself out, you drive your team crazy, you spin your wheels all day long come home, come through the door exhausted and say things like ” I have no idea what I did today.”
Most of us are attracted to things that flash and beep. We want to know and we want to know now! I personally have issue with email. If my email inbox is not cleaned out, I mean with zero email sitting in there, I don’t feel like my work is done. The problem is that you can easily fall into the trap of letting email suck away all your time because the you wasted too much of it looking at what your Facebook friend just liked, or reading that junk political email that your best friend sent you.
One of the biggest key factors at Davis Cellular, is that we coached our managers, and admin staff how to manage time. Managing time is very important in business. You’ve heard the saying, time is money! Our admin team at Davis Cellular was awesome. We had “processes” in place and they were being executed brilliantly. The issue though was that my admin team wanted to do all the work every day they came to work. For example, we paid bills on Friday. The urge was to pay a bill as soon as it was opened and approved. However, that was not the best way to manage our time for that task. It really didn’t make sense to go through the process each day of paying bills when it could simply be done during a 2 or 3 hour time slot 1 day each week. With online banking and bill pay, along with the ability to ACH and wire money all over the world, paying bills was an easy task (if you have the money!) that we could knock it in just a few hours a week instead of spending a half hour to an hour doing this each day.
Here are a few tips to follow to leverage more out of your valuable time:
1. Make a list.
Making a list may seem cliche. However this list can be very simple and very easy and at the same time have the biggest impact of what you get done in a day. Dave Ramsey has a great method on making lists. He calls it steak sauce, the A-1 list. It goes like this – write down the things that you want to get done today. Beside each item, write an A by the most important items, a B by the next most important items and a C by the items that if you get to today that would be good, but not the end of your company if you do not. Then, next to the A items list them in order. What is the number one thing that you must get done today, and if you can only get this one item done today, this is the one thing that must get done. Do the same with the B’s, and then the C’s. Now, reorder your list starting with the A-1, then the B’s, then the C’s. Now you have A-1, the most important thing for you to do today, at the top of your list! I still do this each and every day. It is unbelievable to me how much time business owners and mangers spend working on things that are not even important in their role. We used to have a saying that, “Work on something that only you can do”. In other words, do work that only you can do, don’t do meaningless tasks or other things that waste your time!
2. Set Meeting Agendas
Do you dread going into meetings? The reality is that most companies that have employees need to, and should have meetings, frequent meetings. A meeting done correctly is the most effective way to communicate to your team what is happening in your company. Most mangers walk into a meeting unprepared and it becomes more like a bunch of people sitting around talking and or complaining about what is going on. Have an agenda for your meeting. Put items on the agenda that are only pertain to those attending the meeting, and only the items on the agenda can be discussed at the meeting. Also, allow the attendees to add to the agenda if they would like. At Davis Cellular we had managers meetings every Monday morning at the corp office. Any manager that wanted to talk about a specific item would place that item on the agenda before the meeting starts. You would be amazed how short those meetings became once we had a dedicated purpose for meeting, and had an agenda of exactly what we were talking about.
3. Leverage Technology
So we talked about list making and meetings, lets tie some of that together with some Tech! I’m not a paper person and my handwriting is terrible. Some prefer paper and that is ok too. But with apps like Evernote, Workflowy, and a countless amount of note taking apps that will allow you to hand-write your notes, making an A-1 list doesn’t have to be time consuming. If you utilize some these apps you also have the ability to see each daily list in a flash, just in case you ever need to see a previous day. And the best part, its always with you most of these apps will work cross platform – Windows, iOS, Mac and Android.
There are also some great video chatting apps that many businesses are now using to meet face to face across long distances. Skype, Google Hangouts, Fuze are a few apps that work well for this. I recommend a personal gathering at a minimum of 2 times per year for your whole company no matter what the distance and size are. I know it may be tough and somewhat expensive to get everyone together but it will pay off. Communication is key, remember that communication is the grease in the gears of your company.
4. The Urgent and Important
The time management grid, by Stephen Covey. Check it out here. This is a staple for any organization when it comes to determining exactly what activities are important during your day. Using this grid along with your A-1 list will really start to help resonate the importance of time management for you and your organization. Basically there are 4 quadrants: Q1, Urgent and Important, Q2 Not Urgent and Important, Q3 Urgent and Not Important, Q4 Not Urgent and Not Important. Mr Covey says that we divide up all our time into 1 of these four quadrants. Take a look at the attachment here and print if off. It will be very eye opening if you follow it!
Email has become on the greatest forms of communication on the planet. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can fire out an email to your entire company. Most companies overuse email, in my opinion. Email has its place, but be very careful not to get consumed by it. I challenge you to do this: Schedule times throughout the day to check your email. Most of you reading this will come up with 10 excuses why you “can’t” do that. I was one of them. However, once you break away from your inbox your really seem to realize how much time you now have that you never thought you had! Here is what I recommend. When you get to the office, clean out your inbox. Respond to email, forward, reply send new whatever. Then, close your email. After lunch, do the same thing again, and then 15 minutes before you leave for home do it again. Now, some of you are already saying “But what if I miss a really important email?” Most of the time email is not so important that it cannot wait 3 or 4 hours for a response. Anything that important should be a phone call not an email! I can’t think of one business deal I ever lost because I didn’t return an email within 15 seconds.
Give it a try – I challenge you. Oh, what about your smartphone you say? It depends, if you are somewhat disciplined I would suggest a wearable. A sleek looking smart watch is great to monitor the message traffic coming into your digital life. However, don’t break the rules. Reply, send, and all that only during a scheduled time. I leave my phone on silent all the time. Yes Heather, I really do. However, I wear a smart watch so that I can monitor my digital aura during the day so that if I need to respond to a text message or take a phone call, I don’t miss them. I also have upwards of 5 email inbox’s that is getting mail all day long so if I let it, I will be consumed by email all day and get absolutely nothing done! I would recommend shutting of the email notification on your phone at the least. Your device will still get them and you will still be able to reply, forward etc you just won’t get a notification every time one arrives.
So there you have it. Look, you spend more time at work than you do anywhere else in your life. So two things, love what you do, and be good at it! Budget your time like you would budget your money. You will be happier, get more done and have a much better feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day!