It recently occurred to me what my second favorite day of the year is (after Thanksgiving). It’s not my birthday or even Christmas: It is the day after we move the clocks back for daylight saving time. On that Sunday morning in November, I wake up with the wonderful gift of an extra hour. That extra hour completely changes the pace of my day. It allows me to feel less rushed and to accomplish more, and it gives me an opportunity to connect more with my family, who often feel that I don’t have enough time for them. It’s a gift I am given annually, but I especially appreciate it in today’s environment.
People today are time starved. Many of us (including your clients) value time more than money. The pace of life keeps increasing, but we still only have 24 hours in a day. One common denominator of successful people is how they approach time. Here are some tips that may help you gain a few extra hours in your week.
1. Reduce reactive time. The two primary sources of reactive time are your clients and your team members. So on Monday morning, send a note to all your active clients that might want to interact with you, and ask them if you can set a time to connect that week. Control it. They will feel better about you and so will you.
When team members interrupt you with issues, simply ask them if you can discuss their issue at a specific time when you are available. They will either address the problem on their own or meet with you at the prescribed time. (The problem might even vaporize.)
2. Just say “no.” None of us want to disappoint, but we waste time on many things that go nowhere. If a prospect asks for an estimate, give them a budget range right then. If clients ask you for more research, do it only after you exhaust the options through conversation and advice on the spot. By being a little smarter in what you decide to undertake, you will get the gift of time.
3. Plan, then work your plan. Give me an hour to buy a loaf of bread, and I will figure out a way to use that whole hour. But if you plan on using only 20 minutes, the process will take 20 minutes. Many people create daily to-do lists. A “to-do” list is not a plan. Rather, a plan is a blueprint of your day. Learn how to make a plan in order to better control your day.
4. Leverage. The most successful people are great at leveraging their time. You do it naturally when it comes to juggling personal tasks, but try to make it a mindset. When you are doing your daily planning, think about the best way to leverage your energy. If you are driving to an appointment, for example, make your car a communication center. Leveraging is a mindset and a process more than a happenstance.
5. Dump some of the time wasters. Sitting through TV commercials, talking to solicitors, and holding unnecessary team meetings take up time you don’t have. Make a list of how you spend your time, then eliminate some of the time wasters. You’ll discover you don’t miss it.
Once you’re successful with these tips, make sure you don’t just add more to your plate. Try to celebrate. Stop and smell the roses. Think more. Enjoy hanging out with your family. Time really is a gift and with a little focus, you can find more of it.