Taming the Time Tangle

Taming the Time Tangle

We can work hard and make a good living and complete projects, but one thing we can’t do is make more hours in the day.

Regardless of what type business you are in, our days are comprised of thinking, conversations and actions.  And there are some factors we can’t totally control during the day. This could be interruptions due to phone calls, questions from customers, and co-workers who need information. You could have the dreaded blue screen of death show up on your PC. You could have a team member out sick. Your boss might come in with a priority project that wasn’t on your schedule.

While there are some things you can’t control, there are many factors that are within our control. A great tip is to put a sign on your door that you can’t be disturbed from x time to y time. This will limit the distractions from people who just want to stop in and see how your day is going.

You have to plan. Start the day with a priority list. Try not to jump project to project. Limit your distractions caused by email or web surfing. Pick designated times during the day to check messages and respond. Turn off your notifications so that you aren’t compelled to look every time a new message comes in. One of my best tips is to touch an email only once. You can delete it. You can set it aside to respond later if you need follow-up information or time to think about your response. Save it for reference later or respond to it immediately. Don’t open and close them over and over throughout the day.

Procrastination is also a big problem. All of us are tempted at times to put something we don’t really enjoy or want to do.

Think about it – we try to spend about eight hours a day sleeping. We spend about an hour a day on personal care (some of us more). Typically, we spend about eight and a half hours at work. Then there is the time we spend taking care of family, chores, and the house. This accounts for another 5 hours each day. That’s at least 22 hours. What are you going to give up to find more time for a project or personal passion that requires more than what is typically allotted?

There’s a few ways you can tackle the schedule nightmare that will free up pockets of time you need.

  1. Make sure you are setting goals. Give them deadlines and identify all of the steps you think need to be in place to successfully complete your mission. Once you have the list of goals, you need to prioritize them.
  2. When you start prioritizing them, make sure you list them from most important to least important, not based on which you will enjoy working on most. Handle things once. Someone once told me to either do it, delegate it or dump it. That is terrific advice.
  3. Quit procrastinating. If you find yourself saying, “I’ll do it later.” Stop. Break the difficult tasks up into manageable chunks. Establish time slots to deal with each slot. Put harder tasks in the time blocks where you are most productive. Reward yourself along the way. Get your favorite coffee. Treat yourself to a nice lunch out of the office instead of eating in.
  4. Scheduling is important. Leave gaps in your schedule for things that pop up in the day. Use one calendar for work, family and personal appointments. That way you don’t overlook or cross book your day. If you hold meetings adhere to a time schedule. Others will respect the fact you respect their time as well. Stick to a start and stop time.
  5. Finally, take the last 30 minutes of your day to plan tomorrow. That way you’ll come in with a plan in place and be ready to tackle what’s in front of you.

you.com

you.com

Personal websites are not an oddity anymore. You don’t have to be self-employed or a small business owner to have your own site. With WordPress and Square Space and other companies providing templates that are basically copy and paste or drag and drop, it’s super easy to build an online community. If you are thinking about branching out into the freelance world, either to supplement your income or with the thoughts of your passion becoming a full-time career, you’ve got to have a personalized online presence.   

Most importantly you need to choose the right domain. Unless you have an established business name, I suggest you use your name as the domain. Choose a .com,.org or .net address because these are the ones people are most familiar with.

The site needs to be about you, not the business alone. It should be designed for the group of people you are trying to reach, not for the masses. You need to think about what it is you want them to do when they arrive. Make sure it’s easy for them to find the things they need.

Make it visual. Videos and pictures grab attention must faster than text. Show that you have been successful and are qualified to provide the service you are promoting by including recommendations from people who have used your services.

Make your bio a piece that shows who you are and gives an insight into your personality and why you care about what you do. Share stories about your life. The more personal you can be, the bigger chance that you connect to a client. People do business with people, not a company.

Offer freebies to help build your email list. Growing that list will give you the biggest chance to market your services down the road. However, don’t abuse it. People have trusted you with the information, so don’t overload their inbox and don’t share the information unless they have given you permission.

Do some thinking before you start building that site and soon you’ll have crafted a vibrant place that draws people to you and hopefully increase your client base.

Thoughts on Leadership

Thoughts on Leadership

I’ve been taking part in a leadership program hosted by our local Chamber of Commerce. Our first session dealt with …… you guessed it, didn’t you? Leadership.

Several thoughts from our first session have stuck with me the past month.

The first is, you must lead with vision. Lewis Carol (of Alice in Wonderland fame) said “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” There’s such truth in that. Leadership should come with a plan and a vision. You’ve got to be able to see where you want to be three months or three years down the road.  You’ve got to be able to show people what you are leading them towards.

Secondly, when you are in charge, be in charge. Don’t be wishy washy. Don’t make people doubt that you have a plan. That doesn’t mean you aren’t open to ideas and discussion. You’ve just got to pick a path and help guide everyone to a point. You’ve got to inspire you team to push through. Someone said, “Hope is not a method.” You can’t expect people to work with you if you don’t have a solid plan in place.

Leaders have integrity. Leaders don’t lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those that do. If you are going to be a leader, your character must be above board. You also must encourage your team to be accountable in the same way. They won’t respect you if you sit idly and watch others not carrying their weight or being deceitful and not stepping in. They also won’t follow if they don’t trust you.

Finally, leaders don’t squash innovation. Some people like innovation if you still do it the same way you always have. If you want to move ahead of status quo, you’ve got to be able to be willing embrace change at times. Don’t be afraid of trying something new. What’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work. That’s not necessarily bad, you learned what didn’t work didn’t you? How many times did Bell attempt to make the phone or Edison (or Tesla – depending on your view) fail before creating a bulb that worked. You can learn from failure as well. The idea is not to fear it so much that you never move forward.