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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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.

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

 

Fourth Quarter — Are you going to make it?

How close are you to reaching your year-end goals? Are you 75% of the way there?

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Whether you are trying to hit a sales target, or revenue target how are you doing? Maybe you are trying to lose weight or reduce personal expenses. Do you know where you stand?

Making assumptions

This line of questioning assumes quite a few things that are generally not true in our world today.

First, there is the assumption that you really do have a specific goal that you are trying to attain. It is amazing to me how many people do not set real goals. Goals in your head are mushy and iffy at best. It is like the guy who told his wife he was going to 25 pound in January and then in December claims that he said it was 5 pounds. We wouldn’t dare write it down; because we know our wives will find it and show it to us in December.

Second, there is the assumption that you know where you are right now in relationship to that goal. One of the first things to go in the demise of our goals is keeping track of where we are. Instead, we go with the gut. Yeah, I’m doing all right! I haven’t balanced my bank accounts or my accounting software lately but I have some money in the bank and some people owe me money so I am doing… okay! I haven’t stepped on the scale but I haven’t changed dress sizes so I must be doing okay. But do you know where you are compared to your goal?

Third, there is the assumption that having set the goal, knowing where you are, that you put together some type of plan and are following that plan to achieve the goal. Many people have the plan of “just work harder”, “put in some extra time”, “just keep going it has to turn around sometime”! Hope is not a strategy and winging it is not a plan. You need a real plan!!

Finally, there is the assumption that if you are not going to reach your goal at the current projections, that you know how to change your action plan to still reach the goal. But of course if you knew how to produce more than you are currently doing, you would already be doing it right? We sometimes forget that the plan that was designed nine months ago may not be sufficient and with new data and opportunities that arise in those months you might be able to increase productivity.

So now what?

What do we do here at the start of the fourth quarter? There are several things that you have to do if you are going to turn around a plan that is falling short.

First, make the first three assumptions real. Clarify and rewrite your goals. Figure out exactly where you are today. Do the work to balance the books, step on the scale, etc. Review your plan to see if you are following it or not. An honest look at the plan and the reality of your life may be just enough to show you that you can still make it.

Second, take a hard look at what are the obstacles that you are facing to reach your goal. This is very important and most people skip by this one and it can cost them. Take the time to clearly outline all of the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your goal. The better that you are able to describe your obstacles, the more likely you will be able to overcome them. Don’t say, I don’t have enough time. Be specific, what else is demanding your time and preventing you from achieving your goal?

Now, here is the hardest part. Finally, you must change what you have been doing, if what you have been doing is not getting it done. The hard part here is the mental game. The argument is “if it were possible I would have thought of it already”. Or, “I can’t work any harder.” But if anyone is able to produce more with less time and effort, then you can. All it takes is learning how to shift gears and then stepping on it.

Look at your greatest achievements for the last 9 months or longer. What was it about that sale, new customer, loss of weight, or whatever that gave you a higher return on your investment of energy, time and money than other activities? Can those mini-successes be duplicated again? Are there small changes that you can make that would make them happen again? What are your greatest strengths profit-wise? What activities produce the most profit? How can you concentrate on those and maximize your time and energy?

Now is not the time to give up!

Now is the time to focus and renew your commitment to your renewed and clarified goals by working smarter, figure out where you are, list your obstacles, decide what you are going to do to overcome them and then track how you are progressing. If you have set worthwhile goals than it will be worth you investing some time to make sure that you reach them. Of course, it starts with setting a real worthwhile goal.

Stan Broesder, is a Management Consultant and Business Coach who lives in Lincolnton, NC. He has worked with small businesses for over 20 years. He has a Masters in Business Administration degree and specializes in helping business owners to improve their productivity, profitability and control of their business and life. His clients enjoy less stress, greater sense of purpose, an increase in productivity and greater profitability. You can find out more about Stan on his website:  www.MYCrossroadsConsultants.com,  call him at 980-241-0189, or email him at:  Stan@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.

Who has time to get it all done?

When we are working at 100% now, who has the time to expand a business or increase marketing, sales, etc. We have plans for growing our business but who has the time to implement the ideas?

This is much more common than people realize. We have cut back expenses to the bare minimums, which means we as the business owner are going to carry as much of the load as possible and wonder when will we be able to invest just a little bit more time and money to help grow the business.

If we do invest a little bit to grow the business will it be enough to move forward and create the needed cash flow to keep that investment going? And can we sustain the pressure and weight of adding more to our plate on a daily basis. Even if we hire someone on a part-time or contract basis, we will need to manage that person and project.

So how do we get ahead? How do we get to the point that we can reduce the stress, increase the cash reserves, and free up just a little bit of time?

There are several profitable initiatives that can be implemented in almost every business to capture some elusive cash flow and profit. The question is do you know what they are and can you implement the initiative yourself or will you need help?

Your concern should be to find the quickest return on your investment so that you can continue to invest and find additional and bigger cash flow and profit gains.

A. Low or no profit Products and services

One place to start would be to search for low or no profit products and services and to eliminate them or make them more profitable. Anywhere from 20 to 40% of all products and services fall into this category. Often it is subsidized by other products and services and we don’t even know it.

 B. No or low profit customers

Another possibility would be to find the low or no profit customer and show them why the cost for keeping them as your customer is higher than others and then renegotiate your price with them. While this may not be possible every time, many times a customer will accept a change in what they are being charged if they understand that it needs to be a win-win for everyone.

 These are just two initiatives that a business owner can use. There are many more to consider. Once you can squeeze a some extra from your business you can continue to develop plans to really grow your profits. 

If you have any questions about how you can implement these cash flow and profit initiatives call Crossroads Consultants at: 980-241-0189.

Not enough time to get it all done?

 

How can I get it all done? At least how can I get more of it done? I never seem to have enough time or energy to get everything done that I want.

This is very common today and especially among business professionals. There seems to be so much to do and not enough time to do it. So what can we do to be more productive and not so exhausted all the time? The issue is how do you live your life, spend your time, and utilize your resources?

Years ago Jim Croce sang a song called “Time in a Bottle”, that had the lyrics “But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.” And there never is, and there never will be! You have to understand a small but critical concept called “opportunity costs”.

Let’s say you have just won the lottery, say $10 Million dollars. What is the FIRST thing that you would do? Now everyone will have a different answer. So let’s say your answer would be, “I would buy a new house”. Okay, which house? Why that one? Why not this one? Maybe you should go visit these homes first. But wait, we have more homes for you to look at before you buy. The choices would be abundant.

You see, “Opportunity Costs” says that you cannot have “B” if you choose “A”. You cannot have a beard and a clean shaven face.  When it comes to time, the resource if very limited, but the opportunities are not. When this happens if we don’t decide what we really want, we will always feel the frustration of “not enough time”.  So the quick answer is you must choose what things you will do and what things you will not do. You also must decide which things will do first and then next, and then next, and then next.

People tend to buy more groceries when they are hungry. They also tend to buy more when they don’t have a list. They also miss things they really wanted to buy but…forgot. If you create and use a list, you can manage your choices better, keep your costs down and you end up with just what you need and not as much of what you don’t need. Using a list is the most basic method of planning. It illustrates the point that planning isn’t about creating an environment that you must live in like a machine. It is about thinking ahead of time about the choices that are available, the value and consequence of each of those choices, and time to reflect on what do you really want verses item “B”.

When you use quality planning tools like a list your life actually has more choices, not less. You can always change your mind, but now you will have a better grasp of the issues and consequences of that decision.