1 – Find your perfect system. Not everyone works the same. Some people do well planning on a legal pad, others with a smart phone or tablet, some a planner, others an electronic calendar reminder system.
2 – What is your most productive time? Do you do best working at night or in the early morning? When is your best time for telephone calls, email follow-up or creative work? Do you get more done in a four day week, ten hours a day, or five, eight hour days?
3 – Block your activities. Pick a time for returning all calls, another for emails, another if needed for employee questions, then when you’re in creative mode don’t allow these activities to interrupt. Even if it means putting a sign on your door and turning off your phone. Or consider doing these activities out of the office or during an off peak hour like early in the morning or after the office closes.
4 – Decide what can you delegate. The most successful and productive people know they can’t do it all. Consider the adage: “If you don’t have an assistant, you are an assistant!” Anything you do that would cost you less to hire out is inefficient for you to handle yourself and can hurt your business growth; for example picking up stamps, delivering packages to clients, checking voicemail, and buying a printer cartridge could all be handled by someone you pay $10 an hour while you spend your time dealing with paying clients.
5 – Hire experts, they pay for themselves. You cannot be an expert in everything! Hiring a CPA, marketing consultant, manager or coach to be on your “team” can save you time, money and hassle.
6 – Plan backwards. Look at the big picture goal, then break it down into smaller and smaller steps that can be put into your daily, weekly and monthly goals. For example: To make an additional 10k this year, means one additional sale a month of 1k. This means I need to generate eight new leads in a month to assure I make one additional sale. Which means I need to be meeting with two new people each week. The daily goal is generating three new leads to set up meetings with over the next week, allowing for one cancellation as cushion.
7 – Get out of your box. Find a way to look at your business from a fresh angle. Get input from a mentor or coach. A friend in another industry may give you ideas from their field that would apply to yours. Sometimes brainstorming outside of the office environment leads to new ideas. Think retreat!
8 – Say no often. Many activities you will be invited to may not serve your interests to attend. Will this class or event fit into your learning or marketing plan? Will you be in a target rich environment for meeting new client contacts? Select how you spend your time, wisely, based on your current goals.
9 – Sleep, exercise, vacation and have fun! Good self-care is the best-kept secret of the highly productive. Good health; mental and physical; is a product of relieving stress through time off, plenty of sleep, healthy eating and exercise.
10 – Step back and look at what is working…or not. Is your current marketing plan bringing you business? Does the association or networking group you belong to lead to sales? Is that group you are leading for free or cheap turning into other business? Reconsider how you could increase your available time by looking at what is working and phase out what is not.