Today’s blog is from a guest author, Craig Valine. He is the Independent Business Advisor for the Glazer Kennedy Insiders Circle Chapter here in Pasadena. Craig has been a great help to me in creating my marketing strategies, and it was on his recommendation that I created this blog and newsletter. In this post, Craig offers some very helpful tips for time management.
10 Time Management Tips I Learned as a “[Former] Struggling Consultant”
By Craig Valine, Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle, Glendale/Pasadena Local Chapter
One of the biggest problems I had when I started out as a consultant was managing my time effectively.
This seems to be a major problem with most consultants and entrepreneurs, but I was bad. I couldn’t manage my projects and I did things that went completely against what I was trying to accomplish. You know, attending networking events that I thought were going to be valuable, only to be wasting an hour to get there, two hours there, and an hour to drive home. (Not a good use of my time!)
I’ve read a lot of time management books, and I’ve used a lot of different time management systems, like Day-Timer, Franklin-Covey, etc. but they didn’t help me one bit. When I became President of a non-profit a few years back, I found it mandatory that I figure this “time-management thing” out, once and for all.
I finally did find a book – a book by my very own teacher Mr. Dan Kennedy called “No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs.” It was the book I had been waiting for my whole life.
Here are ten time management techniques that I adopted as a result of the book, and how I’m using them today:
1. Tame the phone.
Here’s a major “kick-in-the-pants” idea: Don’t answer your phone!
Just because the phone rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it. If it’s super-duper-important, whomever is trying to reach you will call back again and again. But, for those average phonecalls, whether it’s a client or not, don’t let the phone interrupt your flow of work during the day.
Instead, create a time-slot (or a few), and listen to messages and return phonecalls at YOUR convenience.
One thing I learned the hard way was, experts are rarely at the beg-and-call of the people who want to do business with them. Being “hard-to-reach” is sometimes a great thing when positioning yourself. But, the main benefit is, you don’t get interrupted while you’re trying to get things done!
2. Minimize meetings.
Whatever you must do, stop meeting people at restaurants, Starbuck’s, or other… because they’ll very often keep you waiting. Not only is there the time it takes to travel to meet them (which is not billable), but there’s the time waiting and meeting with them (that’s also not billable).
Your time is valuable. And, when you have to wait for people (or worse, get stood up!), that’s not good for your business.
Instead, if you’re going to meet someone or some people, have them come to your office first. Then, you can travel together and catch up. The best part of this is, you get to continue to work until they show up.
If you have to an “off-site” meeting, make sure you bring something to do or read while you’re waiting.
3. Be punctual.
There’s something to be said about the person who is always late for an appointment. He either doesn’t respect YOU, he’s lazy, or he doesn’t care. That’s not someone you want to do business.
On the flipside, if you’re late and you don’t call, it shows you don’t respect them.
Practice absolute punctuality.
4. Make and uses lists.
Every time management program out there uses some sort of lists. But, here are the one’s that help me maximize my day:
- I have my schedule
- I have my “things to get done” list
- I have my “people to call” list, and
- I have my “personal notes” list (where I write notes for people I speak with on a regular basis)
As I mentioned above, I have used a lot of different time management systems. But, I’ve found (and it’s sitting right here next to me on my desk) that a yellow pad does the work for me. It’s not complex at all. It’s simple. When I leave my office, I create a tri-fold and stuff it in my jacket pocket for easy reference.
This tip is simple. But, use it!
5. Try to link everything you do to your goals.
One question I ask myself when doing something or asked to do something is,
— > “How will this get me closer to my goals?”
When I was a struggling consultant and taking on “crap” work, I would find myself in this pickle all the time. I was doing things outside of my expertise to earn a dollar or two, but it wasn’t helping me reach my goals. I wasn’t the expert. Instead, I was like the handyman, or “jack-of-all-trades”, and that wasn’t positioning me as a million-dollar expert.
Leverage your time and effort and make sure that the things you are working on are the things that will accelerate your success towards your dreams and goals. If not, get rid of them — or give them to someone who works for you or could work for you.
Remember, always be asking yourself,
—– > “Is what I’m doing right now moving me measure closer to my goals?”
6. Use a “Tickler” file
This was probably one of my better things to learn and apply. I used to have piles of stuff on my desk that had a deadline or follow-up date attached to it, and I’d forget all about it because I didn’t see it.
Once I discovered how easy and simple having folders set up in advance with the days of the month written on them for easy follow up, my life literally became stress-free.
Since then, I’ve created a better system. Here’s the simple idea:
Get 90 file folders, red numbered 1-30; blue numbered 1-30; green numbered 1-30. This way, you’ve got your follow up program set up for 90 days. Just rotate the colors each month.
It’s been working for me.. and I’ve rarely forgotten about anything since!
7. Block your time.
I was told this one thing and it’s stuck with me ever since. I even teach it to my own clients:
“The secret to peak productivity is, Make inviolate appointments with yourself.”
Many consultants I mean say, “I don’t have time for marketing” or “It’s always something that keeps me from getting “X” done.”
NONSENSE! You’ve got to set appointments with yourself just as you would with your most important client!
Don’t get distracted. Block out the time you need to get things done. Don’t take phonecalls during that time. Don’t let others interrup you. Block out the time for yourself and get things done!
8. Minimize unplanned activity.
I’ve been very guilty of this in the past – and even recently. My friends always call me to meet them for lunch. Although I don’t always go, there are days I go when I know I should be in my office writing or doing productive work. I enjoy meeting with them… but I can’t do it all the time.
My advice to you… DON’T GET DISTRACTED. In his book, “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling”, Frank Bettger said he would make time twice a week for unplanned lunches or coffee. If someone called and said, “Hey Frank. Let’s meet for lunch!” and his two available times were booked, he’d politely say, “I’d love to meet you. However, my schedule is booked for this week. Can I schedule for next week on ____.”
I’ve started doing that and it makes all the difference in my days.
On a personal note, because I work 1/2 my week out of my home, I get interrupted here all the time. “Hey! Let’s take Mitchell (my son) to the park.” Or, “Can you run to the store and get ____.”
Learn to say “No!” Do what I do… put a “do not disturb” sign on your door!
9. Leverage your “odd-lot” time
I always carry a book with me wherever I go. In my car I always have several CD’s of seminars or books on tape. I now carry a digital recorder with me so I can create new products or record good ideas.
Make the best of the time you have nothing to do. Profit by using time waiting for someone or something to happen to do work or catch-up on something that will make you more money or a better person.
10. Live off peak.
Do you know I get more done from 8pm to 1am than I do all during my day? It’s true. If you have to travel to work in the morning, why sit in traffic? Work from home in the morning, then go to the office later?
If you have to do shopping, don’t do it when everyone else is there. Go in the morning right when they open or on a day when it’s the lightest. My family did this a couple of Saturday’s ago at Costco. We were out of there in 30 minutes! Usually, we’d be there for about an hour and half, easily!
Make the most of your time. YOU are your product. You have to manage your time efficiently to earn the income you deserve. Teach others how to respect your time and you’ll profit undoubtedly.
About the Author: Craig Valine is an Entrepreneurial Marketing Expert, and the Director for the Local Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle (aka “GKIC”) Chapter in Pasadena, CA. GKIC is a group for entrepreneurs to share “what’s working” in entrepreneurial-style marketing, and get support from other like-minded entrepreneurs to help reach personal and professional goals in the fastest time possible. To learn more, visit http://GlendalePasadenaGKIC.com
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TmanTed A. Moreno Personal/Small Business Coach Certified Hypnotherapist Specializing in Your Success www.TedMoreno.com (626) 826-0612