Give yourself the time to be able to achieve what really matters for the success of your business.
Oh, the famous to-do list that never seems to end! We all have them, and many entrepreneurs I meet even have several…
“How do you manage to do it all, Sara?” This is a question I often get asked in coaching. My answer is always the same: “We don’t do everything; we only do what really makes a difference.”
Let me explain. Before talking about time management and priorities, it’s important to understand the end goal. From there, selecting the tasks or projects that will help us get there becomes much easier.
I like to use the GPS analogy. When I get in my car, the first piece of information I need to enter in my GPS is the destination—depending on whether I want to go to Quebec or Ottawa, I’ll take a different route. So, when the destination is determined, it’s much easier to say “yes” to the things that bring us there and to say “no” to the things that do not bring us there.
It all starts with a “no”
Let’s say you’ve already established your 20-year business vision – your ultimate destination. List all the things that needs to happen to get there. Go spontaneously, without judgments or filters. This exercise of brain dumping allows you to free your mind from daily emergencies; then you can think much more strategically.
Your list will include two types of things to accomplish: tasks and business projects.
Tasks are small, everyday things. For example, call Mr. Smith; book a meeting with a centre of influence; follow up with a potential client; prepare a client’s plan.
As for business projects, these are larger actions: updating the website; develop a communication or visibility strategy; develop the client experience protocol.
Often, people mix up tasks and business projects. But, the reality, is that you’re in a different state of mind whether you must accomplish a simple task or move forward with an important business project.
How to manage tasks
First, let’s clarify one thing: not everything that needs to be done needs to be done by YOU.
- Are all the tasks on my to-do list essential? Do they bring value to us and our clients?
- How could we achieve the same results in half the time?
- Who is the best person to accomplish such or such task?
You’ll see how effective this exercise is. When I do it, my to-do list goes down drastically.
As for the things that remain on your list—those tasks that can only be accomplished by you—here’s how to do it.
Divide all tasks into three categories:
- What must be done this week.
- What should be done this week.
- What it would be nice to do this week.
2. Work in time slots
Multitasking is one of the biggest myths in our society. We cannot focus on two tasks at the same time; biologically, it is impossible. My advice: use the proven time-and-time-again method of time slots.
It’s about scheduling specific times of the week to do your various tasks. For example, Monday morning is dedicated to administration; Monday afternoon, making client plans; Tuesdays and Thursdays are for client meetings; Wednesday morning is for prospecting; etc.
Then, take all the tasks from category 1 (things that must be done this week) in their respective time slots. Here, you want to be very precise: Monday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: complete the plan for Mr. and Mrs. Johnson; 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.: plan for the McCarrick family.
The difference between a to-do list and one with its items checked off is a well-planned schedule … that you stick to! Focus on one task at a time, without getting distracted by the phone, emails, and more.
How to manage business projects
On the other hand, business projects are longer in duration. I’m sure you’ve had several great ideas in mind for a while, but still haven’t had time to implement them: reviewing your website; create a blog and update it regularly, etc.
That time is not something you have, it’s something you create.
Leveraging the concept of time slots, block off Friday afternoons for business projects, a time when you put everything aside to work on a specific project (you know the infamous “working on your business, not in your business”)
Yes, there will always be something else to do and you can always be busy being busy, but if you really want to bring your success to the next level, you need to take the time to work on the projects that will make a big difference.
From your initial list of business projects, select one per month. For example – in July update the website; in August, communication and visibility strategies. By working on a single project every Friday afternoon, you’ll really succeed in making it happen. And that is very motivating – for you and for your team.
In other words, do fewer things, but do them well and until the end. This is how we do the most important things!
Because when we realize that time management is simply about resource management, we see that in life …so much more is possible…
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