This blog originally published in Printing Impressions
Seems like most owners, CEO’s, and sales teams that I interact with are busy these days. Yet, many of them are frustrated in that they aren’t accomplishing the things that are important to them. I think part of the issue revolves around how proactive a person is versus reactive in planning and managing their time.
This goes beyond time management 101 skills, as the real world has a tendency to dictate much of what we do. Those skills are important though, in guarding your most valuable commodity – your time. So, balancing the two opposing forces can be a challenge at times. One clear habit I see from those that are busy is that they have not invested the time to make a plan. Those that seem to be more productive usually have some sort of a plan or agenda for the day or week ahead. Whether that plan is for the morning or afternoon, or the week, or it’s a plan on how they’ll react to email and those door-jam conversations with peers – it’s a plan. My comments aren’t based on scientific research or a survey, it’s based on working with folks from various companies every day and every week, and trying to hold them accountable for accomplishing the things that they identified as being important to their success. Let’s just say that some do this better than others.
It’s hard. It’s hard to carve out a certain amount of time to allot to a project, or email, or to business development. But what’s the alternative? The alternative is that you bounce around all day, kicking the can, and just keeping the plates spinning. It’s your time. It’s the projects or assignments that you said are important to your success. What is fascinating though is reading about some of the key executives at large companies and how they manage their day. It usually is focused on taking care of themselves first, time for family, time to read and learn, and time for working out and taking care of their health. Then they plot out their day or week, when and how they will respond to email, phone calls, meetings, and also making their travel time productive. They are realistic in that they keep some free time available to respond to the unknown because you know it’ll happen. Doing all of this well means that it’s not a 9-5 gig – you do have to work at it.
Like much I’ve written about, there are no silver bullets to making this better or easier. Start by making a list of the things that are important for you to accomplish each day, how much time you’ll allow to get it done, and enter it into your schedule. It may be helpful to share your schedule with your team or peers so that they know the best time to reach out to you, and who knows, it may encourage them to follow your lead and now you can hold each other accountable. If that’s all you do, you’ll be ahead of the pack. The worst case is that important client or team issues turn your day upside down and you have to reload for tomorrow. When speaking to folks and listening to how these issues totally disrupted their day, I’ll often ask – “what tasks or appointments did you have to cancel in order to take care of fighting those fires?” The response is often, “what do you mean?” I rest my case.
Whatever your role is in your organization, unless you are the “help desk,” you need to have a plan to accomplish your goals every day. Otherwise, you’ll be in react mode and play the role of the fireman. Just make sure that you’re not also playing the role of the arsonist as well. What are you doing to be less busy and more productive? – Send me a note or leave a comment if you’re looking at different things.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.