Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

Do you love your work, and are you doing what you love to do?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Sounds a simple question and I meet many small business owners who really DO love what they do.  It’s quite refreshing to hear, especially after working with some managers who struggle from day to day, and are overwhelmed with daily challenges, deadlines and email content to absorb. Yet many small business owners, managers and leaders have numerous tasks that they don't enjoy doing.

I love what I do, I love coaching one-to-one, training groups of people, and I actually love the business generation side, meeting new people, networking, finding out about their challenges and helping them to move forward. Yet there are tasks that haunt me from my To Do list. They are tasks that I am capable of doing, but if I was to allocate a chunk of time doing them, I would feel guilty that I wasn’t out there looking for new business, or working on my own personal and professional development! They are tasks that desperately need doing to progress my business, yet they don’t move from the list as quickly as they should.

Just before Christmas I attended a one day workshop learning about Talent Dynamics (TD). This is a personality profiling tool, which helps you to identify when you are ‘in flow’. Being ‘in flow’ is when you are totally absorbed in what you are doing, you are fully focused, and time just seems to disappear.

My TD profile is a ‘Star’. This isn’t about me being the centre of attention, it’s about me being centre stage, but shining a light on those around me. My ‘strengths’ (according to the report) are: creative, outgoing, able to motivate and inspire others, quick to connect, holds the stage, high energy and knows how to have fun. Yes, that sounds like me.

My best activities in the workplace are: marketing, promotion, sales leadership, presenting, motivation and starting new projects. Yes, that’s me too.

My worst activities are: Financial detail, research and measurement, detailed writing and project management. Yep – spot on.

Which explains everything! It explains why I avoid researching information (I would rather be chatting to someone at a networking event), I struggle to read and absorb lots of detail (just give me the bullet points), and I would rather be giving a talk than taking down the detailed minutes of a meeting.

Well, I actually know all of this having being trained in psychometric profiling tools, but what I hadn’t realised that I have been my own block to success. I have been wearing so many hats, trying to do the detail as well as the creative thinking, that stuff just isn’t being followed through. I’m great at starting projects, but not following through. And so, when I paused, and considered for a moment what jobs I would love to let go of, and who could do them for me, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. 

I have now found someone, Lynne (my sister!), to do the detailed tasks that I procrastinate on, and she loves doing research, managing projects, and getting things completed. In fact she has the exact opposite TD profile to me, which means we complement each other perfectly. This means that I have time to do more talks, networking, marketing which will help me to grow my business, knowing that the projects that have been simmering rather too quietly in the background, are now gathering momentum. 

And which is why I have the time to write this blog – at last!

Do you suffer from procrastination?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

"When I get the feeling to do something, I lie down until the feeling goes away"

We’re all guilty of it, and know we’re doing it, so just why do we put things off?  When you finally decide to start that project you know has to be done, tidying up your desk, or making a coffee suddenly become quite appealing.

There are many reasons why we delay doing the important but not urgent stuff:

  • The project is so big you don’t know where to start.
  • The project isn’t interesting.
  • You have too long to do the task.
  • You don’t like the task you need to do.

We put off the majority of important tasks because they are too overwhelming. They are too complex or time consuming for us to handle.

Swiss Cheese Technique

Alan Lakein suggests the Swiss Cheese Technique.

  • Pick a small task related to the main project & do it.
  • Follow this task with another small, easy & instant task & do it.

This process is dubbed as poking holes in the cheese. Eventually the cheese gets filled with holes, you get more and more involved in the project and it becomes much easier.

Don’t try and bite the same hole out of the cheese twice. If you tried one task and it didn’t lead to involvement, just try another task. Use the same technique for unpleasant tasks – do little 5 minute tasks then do something else.

Eat the ugly frog first!

Mark Twain said that, suppose tomorrow morning the first that you do, is catch a live frog, stuff it into your mouth, munch it down and swallow it all up. Once you did that, the day can’t get much worse now can it?

Therefore every morning, find the ugliest most repulsive task that you have on your to-do list (i.e. your frog) and knock that off before getting on to doing anything else. Once you’ve got that done, the rest of the day when you’re doing the easy tasks would seem like relishing your favourite dessert.

Brian Tracy, author of ‘Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’, takes the analogy further:

  • If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.
  • When you’ve got two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
  • You cannot eat every tadpole and frog in the pond, but you can eat the biggest and ugliest one.
  • How do you eat your biggest, ugliest frog? The answer is: “One bite at a time.” i.e. you break it down into specific step by step activities and then start on the first one.
  • You should never be distracted by a tadpole when a big frog is sitting there waiting to be eaten.


Getting your prorities right

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

How long is your To Do list today? Is it longer or shorter than yesterday? Do you have items on it that have been there for more than a week? A month? Or longer??

To Do lists are a great way of getting things done, as long as you are prioritising and completing tasks, and making sure you tackle the Important as well as the Urgent.

How do you choose which task to complete next on your list? The easiest? The quickest? The next one down the list?

I used to find myself scanning the list and doing the easiest and quickest tasks, which meant the more time consuming ones rarely moved to the top of the list. And it was the time consuming ones that were generally the important ones, like re-designing my website, or reading up on a new coaching technique.

The first step is to prioritise. Assess each item and decide which is urgent v important – you will know – and allocate how long the task will take.

For more information see Steven Covey's Urgent v Important matrix, get his excellent book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'. This is Habit 3 – Put First Things First.

Now split your list into three:
1) Long term list, 2) Short term list, 3) Daily list, using the 5 D's approach:

  • Do it – if it takes less than 5 minutes
  • Delegate it – who else is quicker and smarter at completing this?
  • Dump it – has it been on your list for more than 6 months? If it IS important, diarise it.
  • Defer it – Put it on your long term To Do list and re- assess in 3 months
  • Diarise it – be realistic with how long it will take, if necessary break it down into small actions.

Rename your daily To Do list, to become the 'Will Do' list.

This daily list should only contain the 2 or 3 important tasks that you WILL complete by the end of the day!

Too much to do?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

This morning I ran a networking workshop helping business owners to focus on their sales & marketing. 

Part of the session was exploring what delegates find most challenging about marketing, and for most of the people in the room, the key challenges in a nutshell are:  There's too much to do, not sure what to do first, and not enough time to do it all! 

If your To Do list is never ending, and some items never seem to disappear, then drastic action is needed…

Here is a basic time management tip – apply the Five D's Rule:

Take your To Do list, get everything written on it and apply one of the 5 D's below:

Do it – if it takes less than 5 minutes

Delegate it – who else is quicker and smarter at completing this?

Dump it – has it been on your list for more than 6 months? If it IS important, diarise it or explore what stopping you from dealing with it.

Defer it – put it on your long term To Do list, and re-assess in 3 months.

Diarise it – be realistic with how long it will take, if necessary break it down into small actions.

Rename your To Do list, to become the 'Will Do' list. This daily list should only contain the 2 or 3 important tasks that you WILL complete by the end of the day.

If you're struggling with your time management, click on the Coaching Solutions tab to find out how coaching can help you.

Email Management

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Do you get frustrated when people don't respond to your emails? How does it make you feel? Neglected? Irritated? Not important?

We can make allowances for prospects, clients and friends who have other priorities, but what about emails you've sent to a supplier?

When a supplier doesn't respond to my email request, it makes me wonder,

a) How important is my business to them?
b) If they can't organise and manage their inbox, what quality of work should I expect from them?

Are you guilty of owning an unorganised and overflowing inbox? An inbox with client emails awaiting your attention?

Then it's possible you have unhappy clients who feel frustrated and neglected. And it will be expensive to replace them when they leave you for someone who pays them more attention.

Some basic time management techniques can help you resolve the inbox issue, and keep your clients happy. Emails have replaced a large percentage of the postman's delivery, therefore it's time to treat your inbox as you used to treat your stack of post.
Start getting into the habit of dealing with your emails as though they are a task to be dealt with. Effectively managing your inbox is simply a matter of applying some techniques used to deal with interruptions, procrastination and prioritising.

By following a few simple rules, you will be amazed at how much more you can achieve, you will be more focused, more motivated and much more productive.

Oh, and your clients and prospects will feel more valued too..

Tips to put you back in control…

1. Unsubscribe from unnecessary mailing lists.
2. If you get jokes/chain letters, ask friends to remove you from their lists.
3. Set up Outlook to organise incoming mail, i.e. newsletters that you do want to read can go straight into your ‘Newsletter’ folder.
4. Set a regular time to check incoming e-mail & when to respond to mail, and then close your inbox!
5. If you can’t bear to close it, turn off the automatic alert so that you are not distracted.
6. Set up Outlook folders and allocate to the following:
          a) Deal with today – set a time to deal with them
          b) Deal with this week
          c) Deal with this month

And remember to allocate time in your diary to action/read the contents.