Four Steps to Save Time When There is No Time

My client told me, “I would really like to sit down with you and discuss performance, but I just don’t have any time right now!” I replied, “But Bill, the primary reason that we need to talk is to help you save some time and free up some time so that you can get back to managing your business instead of your business managing you!”

When there is no time to save time, you’re in trouble. You will make poor decisions, run your health into the ground, irritate employees, upset customers, and frustrated friends and family.  You can put your business and future in serious jeopardy and not even realize the dangers of your actions.

Step One. Acknowledge that you are too busy.

Burning the candle at both ends, and in the long-run, it cannot be healthy or wise. Busy doesn’t always mean that you are productive and productive doesn’t mean that you are being efficient or effective. Are you doing the most important things that you should be doing?

Step two. Find the root cause of your time crunch.

As long as you just tweak the symptoms of this problem it will never be resolved. In fact, my experience tells me that is exactly what you have been doing up to this point or you wouldn’t be “too busy.”

Step Three. Create a new plan of action or inaction.

You need to create a plan that also determines which tasks you shouldn’t be doing. Regardless, you need a different plan than the one you are using.

Step Four. Get the help and support that you need.

If you could solve this by yourself, you would have done it by now. As a business owner, you need a business specialist to help you create and execute better plans and to manage yourself and your business more effectively and efficiently.

Stan Broesder is a Small Business Managment Specialist with Crossroads Consultants. If you want to see change take place in your life or business, especially performance management contact Stan. He can be reached Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com or 980-241-0189 and leave a message.

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Super Busy Costs you, here is a Solution

From so many commitments that you can’t seem to breathe, to working so hard on everyday problems and issues you never seem to see beyond today. ‘Super busy’ can look different for different people.

Define “Busy”
You need to be able to define what it means when you say that you are “busy.” Everybody is doing something every single hour of every day. What does your busy look like? Are you working more hours than is healthy, are you inefficient because you cannot solve a time management issue, or do you have a problem saying no and are now overcommitted in a number of areas and cannot seem to juggle it all?

A very common scenario is growing in a business until you are maxed out, then hiring someone to help in the front office. This person handles all the phone calls, customer complaints, invoicing, bill payment preparation, errands, occasional social media posting, and whatever else you can dump on them. But it is never enough. So, who is the next person that you can add to take some load off of you? You can’t afford someone who doesn’t produce income.

The Hard Part
More importantly, why is your “busy” a problem? You need to determine what really going on that is causing you to be too busy. What are the implications of you being so busy? What is the price?  Is it causing stress, sleepless nights? Maybe it is impacting relationships in your life, but you just grunt on and keep going, not knowing when or how it will stop!

The Solution
Find time. Take time. You might need an hour, so take it in 10-minute increments. Whatever it takes, but do it. You must find some time to breathe.  Once you take some time, we invest that time to find a little more time, and then we take that extra time to make more money to buy you your freedom. Here is where you start.

First, list ALL of your roles and responsibilities, from selling to the prospect to cleaning the toilets. Whatever you do in the company as a part of owning your business, WRITE IT DOWN!

Second, prioritize every listed item from the most critical and money producing activity to the least.

Third, look for ways to delegate or contract out the less income producing and impactful activities to someone else. If you are worried about quality control, as many are, that is a problem of systems and management skills (and Crossroads Consultants can help you with that).

Fourth, make a plan. Once you have freed up some time, use it to plan out your future and solve problems of delegation, control and bringing in more income. It takes time to make a good plan but that is what you need to have the freedom you need to reach your goals. Being Super Busy can be great for the ego, but the cost can be devastating.

Stan Broesder is the owner of Crossroads Consultants a business management and growth consulting company. If your business is going to grow the owners and management team must grow with it, or it won’t work. Marketing today is beyond the expertise of most owners and manager. In order to effectively market your business and grow you need someone who can plan and manage your marketing. Crossroads Consultants will provide you with a lower cost provisional marketing management solution. Contact Stan at 980-241-0189 or Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

Time to get organized?

What if you had the time to do all that you needed to do? What would you do? We have all heard the statement that time is money and the even more important “time is life”. But the question is what will you do with your time?

Many that I talk to complain about not being organized, not having the time, not having the information they need when they need it, missing deadlines, and feeling like they are just being run ragged. Most people do not realize that being organized is not a gift that a few people have, but is actually a skill set which can be learned and developed over time. The question is, are you working on developing that skill? It is something that I also struggle with and work on.

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Being organized is not about being neat, or making your office look pretty. But it is about being more effective in your actions and operations. It takes effort to be organized,  but the return on your investment will be much greater because of our increased effectiveness.

Being organized means that you have the information you need when you need it, about prioritizing and making choices to do what is best, like being on time for meetings with the proper resources. Being organized is first about doing the right things and then doing them right.

Think of the professional mechanic who can’t find the right tool and spends just five minutes looking for it. That mechanic is not organized. There should be a place for everything and everything in its place. Okay, that might be perfection, but for the mechanic it is money. You already set up systems for daily routines, where you place your keys, where the salt and pepper shakers are, etc. Prioritize and decide is the key and a skill that is not easy to learn. Keep working on it!

So what are you going to do to become more organized? There are a number of good books out that can help you develop this skill set. Go to a library or bookstore and look for books on organizing. This must be a conscientious decision and an investment of time and energy. Learn this skill and it will pay back many times in the future. Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of being organized, get help and start small, but start.

Stan Broesder, MBA is owner of Crossroads Consultants and a Business Consultant specializing in helping business professionals to be more efficient, effective by developing skills, strategies, and systems that increase profits and business growth. For more information on how you can be better organized, email Stan at:  Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com.

Why Planning Won’t Work!

Planning is one part of the management puzzle but it requires another piece of the puzzle. You can have the perfect plan or blueprint, but if you can’t organize the resources to accomplish the plan, it will cost you dearly.

No one plans like you, thinks like you or works like you! Be yourself, but strive to be better! Your personality and individuality are very important to your planning, how you organize and how effective or efficient you will be.

The second piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have your ‘ducks in a row’– that you are organized. Being organized is not the same thing as being neat. It doesn’t mean that you have to live your life like a drill Sargent. Being organized means that you know your priorities and where the information and resources are to meet those priorities when needed.

Find a way that works for you. Don’t kid yourself and say that you are organized when you spend 20 minutes looking for the phone number you wrote down, or a copy of that proposal you sent two weeks ago. Constantly work on creating better plans, better systems and being better organized. Strive to be a better you!

You must create systems or have someone help you to create systems that work for you. Then your plans will have a better chance of being accomplished and the changes that you want to see happen.

Take five minutes to make a list of what are the top five priority goals in your life and the critical information and resources that you need to reach those priorities. Then ask yourself, “how organized am I really in these critical areas?”

As a person who has worked with business professionals for over 25 years, I have helped to create the systems and strategies that fit your individual needs and to bring about the changes that you want in your life or business. When will you take the time to start getting organized?

Make your planning work for you!

Which way to go? Too many choices!

On Friday morning you see a pile of tasks on your schedule that kept falling over from each day during the week. Two items on Monday dropped into an already full Tuesday, which then dropped 5 items onto Wednesday. Now on Friday it is way more than you can do and you hope you can push it out over next week and so you dump it on to Monday.

Too many opportunities
In business today there are so many opportunities and choices and things to do. All of them are urgent and important, at least it seems that way. So how do you handle phone calls, complaints, emergencies, emails, proposals, bills, critical undelivered materials that you need to get your project completed, and on, and on, and on?

The Big Rocks Story
There is a great story that is often told in seminars that deal with planning and time management, but most people miss the point. It is generally called “The Big Rocks” you can read the story <here:> or go to: http://www.successfulacademic.com/ezines/apr252005.htm

There will always be more to do than you can possibly get done, more opportunities, no matter if you see them all or not. The key is developing your skill of prioritizing. It is a matter of being able to look at all of the tasks, opportunities and urgencies and determining which are the most important to do at this time. Okay, I would agree it is a little more difficult than that. But if you look at a few key principles of setting priorities you will at least improve your skills and start making great strides in the right direction.

Not values again!
Deciding what is most important is where you start the process. And in order to do that you have to decide what your values are. “You have got to be kidding, really?!” It is like the old joke when a robber meets a couple out for a walk. The robber jumps out from the bushes and says “your money or your life!” So the man grabs his wife and shoves her toward the robber who is stunned and says, “What are you doing?” Too which the man replies, “I thought you said my money or my wife”. Yes values are important. You wake up in the middle of the night because you thought you heard something. When you get halfway through the house you realize there is a fire at the far end of the house, what do you do? 1. Grab your most recent Sports Illustrated, 2. Rescue the fish 3. Get the marshmallows or 4. Oh, yeah, wake up your family.

Life isn’t that easy, but it helps to understand ahead of time what your values are and even which are more important than others. Loyalty is a very important value, but is it more important than integrity? You get two big project opportunities, but you cannot handle both. You must decide which has priority, money or an opportunity to expand into a great developing area of your industry. Again the choices won’t be that easy. In fact, the problem is that the choices are subtle, and NOW. The choices that are the most difficult are the ones that demand your decision right now and the consequences are sometimes obscured.

Watch your emotions
Too many times our emotions play a role in our prioritizing skills. When we don’t have our values down clearly it is an opportunity for our emotions to create conflict and frustration. Having a clear understanding about our goals and our values is critical to being able to prioritize our lives.

Learn to see end results
In developing our ability to prioritize our opportunities and tasks we need to develop our ability to see the value of the outcomes of our efforts. To be able to think through the effects of our work and the value of those results is critical and is missed by a lot of people. We’ve all known someone who could buy things at garage sales or from the classified ads and could turn them around and make money on them. They would see a motorcycle or boat along the road with a for sale sign on it and the next thing you know they bought it and then sold it within a week for a nice profit. How do they do that? It isn’t luck. They know the value of certain items and they know a deal when they see it. What happens is some of us try that and lose our shirt and scratch our heads. You have to know the value of the outcome.

Clearly understanding your goals and your values and understanding the consequences of our choices, while keeping your emotions in check, are important to being able to prioritize your life. Creating the discipline to follow through on what you know is best, and to do the most important thing now is the key to success.

What do you do when your business is out of control?

It is real tough when you come in on Monday morning and a few key people are out sick, you get a call from a major customer who wants to postpone that big order that they gave you last week and your vendor tells you that the big order that you gave them last week will arrive earlier than expected, in fact it will be here this morning, the #4 machine needs to be shut down  and will need a swing arm replaced which will take at least ten days to fix if we can find the part and have it shipped overnight.  You already have meetings scheduled and emails to go out, phone calls to make and now this.

You can sometimes quickly feel out of control. This can happen when you feel like all you do is fight fires all day long and can’t seem to get to your own “To Do” list. Your plans can fall apart even before you’ve had any chance to get them started.  But you still have all those “To Do’s” to do.

So how do you move forward? There are three things to remember:

First, there is only so much time every day and there is no more. And time is constant, it doesn’t slow down or speed up even though it might seem that way. You can only do what you can do. Don’t allow the size and number of fires you “have” zap your energy.

Second, there are techniques for making your life more efficient. If you have a “To Do” list that is one of them. There are many more and you can read about them or just by really thinking about your life you can create your own. Sometimes getting ideas from other books, magazines or people can help. Efficiency is not enough, and it will not prevent the problems and challenges.

Third, a great efficient system is not enough. An economy car may be advertised as efficient, but it has very little use for a soccer mom with lots of kids, or hauling some lumber for that project you are working on. Efficiency at the expense of effectiveness is a waste of energy and ultimately is not efficient. You have to be effective in what you do as well as being efficient in the doing of it.

To gain control there are three basic things that you need:

  1. Information. Having timely and accurate information is critical if you are going to be making decisions that will affect the energy, resources and your future.
  2. Priorities. Deciding a head of time what are your priorities is critical to being able to gain control. It is better to work on this before the fires in your life come along. Most people are quick to understand that family and the lives of others would be priority in say a house fire. Pictures and even the pets come in a distant second.
  3. Resources. You must know the capabilities of your resources. What realistically can you, your personnel, and your business do to resolve the problem without creating a worse problem. Knowing what you can accomplish with what you have will help you to delegate (if possible) and tackle the most appropriate fires first.

Information, priorities and resources are key ingredients to being able to get back in control. For more information on how to get control of your business go to http://www.MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

 

How Can I think About My Future When I Am So Busy Now?

Right now I am so busy that I don’t have time to really think about my future. I work long hard hours now and I don’t see how I can do anything different.

Maybe you are finding yourself with this attitude about your business or career. There are so many things to do now, how do you add more to it? Brian Tracey once said, “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”
Here are five things that can change your future.

1. Decide. What it is that you want? Call it a purpose, objective or goal, but write down what you really want to accomplish either in your business or life.
2. Take Stock. Figure out where you are right now. Describe your life and business. This includes your resources, the environment that you are in, the friends and contacts that you have. Everything that has value or might have value is important to recognize.
3. Anticipate. What are the obstacles that are currently standing in your way for reaching your purpose or goals? What is very likely to stand in your way in the future? Keep the future obstacles in mind as well so that you can prepare for them and not allow them to sabotage your plans.
4. Plan. Put together a plan that is flexible and yet realistic in being able to achieve the goals or purpose that you have set out to accomplish. Most people stumble right here. They think that a list of goals is a plan. But there is more to it than that. You must include time frames, costs (financial, energy, skills, etc.) support from others, etc. if you are going to put a realistic plan together.
5. Execute. Flight plans and road trip plans don’t do any good if you don’t get the car started or go to the airport. You must ACT if you are going to reach your goals. If you procrastinate in any area, understand that it is an obstacle that you must find a way to overcome or you will be stuck right where you are. Action focused on the plan is the key. Change plans carefully and if necessary. But keep moving forward.

You can achieve so much more than you ever thought possible when you put a plan together and develop the skills and systems to effectively utilize the resources that you have and will have in the future.