Business is all about creating systems. Without systems it’s impossible to be efficient, which is what builds profit into the balance sheet. It makes sense, then, that time management is the first area in which you need to create systems, or practices, that allow you to focus on getting the most important growth tasks done.
Identifying growth activities
If you are that person who is “too busy” to work on thought leadership, building your authority or standing out in one of your networks, then you might find that your new prospects eventually diminish.
Let me introduce you to the Pareto principle (also called the 80-20 rule) which dictates that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. You might also find that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients. Despite knowing this, people often prioritize tasks that they find easy rather than those that get them out of their comfort zone but produce results.
Now is the time to ask yourself “what are the 3-5 activities that almost always fill my pipeline and get me results?
These are often the things that no one is asking for and that aren’t urgent, but you know they set you apart and put you at the top of your game (i.e.. writing, contact management, developing partnerships, participation in discussions with peers, developing tools and proprietary methodologies for delivering value and so on).
That is the first step to effective time management: identifying important business development activities that bring in your best clients.
The second step is clearing out your schedule so you have the time to do all this important work.
Time management tips to simplify your day
Here are a number of time management tools that I use and that my clients love. Pick the ones that feel right for you:
- Use a whiteboard or a monthly calendar to figure out which of your major projects you would like to complete each month. Write them down and don’t look at the ones you aren’t doing until you’re ready to act.
- Plan your weekly schedule in advance. Prior to each week decide what you want to accomplish that week towards your monthly goals. Ensure you carve out project-only time. Actually block that time off in big chunks and plan to minimize distractions (i.e. turn off your email and phone).
- Stimulate the flow by working on things with ample time. Time-blocking in your online calendar is the most effective tool to plan out your time and properly account for how long tasks take.
- Work on projects until they are done. Don’t start with the next thing until the first project is finished.
- Use an idea notebooks or Evernote to capture ideas without interrupting focused time. (See our list of other helpful apps)
- Cluster appointments, business development-only days, and writing-only days to create flow.
- Create a work plan for bigger projects.
- Use a mind-map to consider the possibilities and generate a 40,000 foot view, and to stimulate the creativity.
Choose one of these tools at a time so you can solidly implement them into your regular workflow cycle until they become natural. Soon you are on your way to creating maximum efficiency and growth potential.
Do you have an approach to time management that gives you an edge during your busy day? I’d love to hear about it below!
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