How to avoid getting chased around by a 10 foot, 1800 pound flesh-eating, stress inducing calendar
Do you find yourself bouncing around from meeting to phone call to networking event, then find that you are actually accomplishing much, only to spend the rest of your time answering emails and putting out fires. Then everything that you were supposed to do piles up until the last minute causing you to begin running around the office trying to get everyone to move as quickly as possible to get the work done at the last minute.
I hate that.
“Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”
As business leaders,we need to kill the 10 foot 1800 pound monster. It’s not like it’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about. It is, rather, personal to us and bares down on everything we do and could potentially consume us. It destroys productivity, a sense of accomplishment and potentially, the quality of our work and relationships.
One of the reasons businesses fail to innovate is that business leaders and teams simply don’t manage their time. Failure to innovate often results in failure to exist. As a business leader, managing your time (or finding someone to do it for you) is essential for getting the monumental number of things you have to do done. But don’t stop there…the things that you devote your time and energy to need to have purpose or create value.
When you respond to every fire, shiny thing, micro-manage your employees and try to be everywhere, your productivity suffers. This doesn’t mean that you stop being a go-getter, but rather, you guard your time and energy viciously so that you can bring your ‘A’ game to the tasks that only you can do.
Here’s how you do it:
- Create a note on your smartphone and label it “Stuff I hate.” Stuff you hate to do are actually tasks that steal your energy. Yes, there will always be tasks that you hate, but the more you can get on this list, the better you are able to manage and prioritize. Evernote or OneNote are good for this so the notes will sync with your other devices, plus you can create voice notes, take pictures or embed them.
- For the next month, whenever you come across a task you hate doing, or something you wish someone else would/could do for you, note it in whatever method works best. Now, you will probably forget over the course of the month, so set an alarm to do this at least once a day. Recapping is never a problem.
- At the end of the month, review the list. If you have video notes, audio notes or picture notes, transfer the information. If this is one of the admin tasks you hate to do, hire someone to do this for you. Why? The results of this will increase your productivity and ultimately save you a ton of money.
- Group the list. For example, if many of the tasks are administrative, group them all together.
- For each group, prioritize the tasks by the amount of value created for the company versus the level of hate for the task. For example, if you hate project management, but that is required for retaining your customers, that is a very high level need. This is the type of task that you want to find a competent person to fill.
- Review the list. There may be some things on the list that ACTUALLY only you can do, versus those that you THINK only you can do. For example, an executive assistant CAN go through your emails and route only the ones that are most important to you. Your primary role could potentially be broken down; perhaps someone else could proofread or close the building at night or manage your projects. Get an objective eye to look at this if necessary.
- Find ways to get the crapola off of your plate. You have your list prioritized tasks you hate; think about what you would could do to create value if you didn’t have to do this task. Would it lead to more revenue? What would it take for that revenue to exceed the expense? How long will it take? Again, if this is not in your strong suit, so to speak, then find someone to help with this.
- With the remaining tasks you have to do, plan time for each of them. Break out your calendar and write down when you will do the things you need to do each day over the course of a week or month. If you need to do bizdev activities for 3 hours per day to grow the company, schedule it.
Don’t let others manage your calendar. In the event you MUST move something, move it. Don’t just delete it because you can get right back to the place where your calendar is managing you. Finally, there will be some ties when you have to say, “no.” Operate from intelligence, not inertia. Make intentional steps.
You will find that with each task you get off of your plate, you have more clarity on your tasks, fewer fires to put out and increased productivity (amount of stuff you get done over the course of a day.)
Is the time/money investment worth it? Absolutely. Will it happen over night? You are trying to get an 1800 pound calendar off your back. Absolutely not. It is 1800 pounds. You exercise discipline and whittle a way at it. Take the long view. Build an extraordinary business.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
Join us for a 30-minute complimentary Coffee & a Consult, to learn more about Aepiphanni and how we might help you move your company from existing to extraordinary.