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Time Execution

Change The Grains - Control Your Day

Are you working below your pay grade?  You need to know the value of your time and use that as a prism through which you review all the activities that you take on. It is time to start to replace the grains of sand falling through your personal hour glass and ruthlessly eliminate everything that doesn't belong in your day.

Outsource Everything

How many things are you doing in your business that could be handled by another organization that specializes in just that task and does it better than you ever will? By insisting on handling it yourself, how much time do you waste and, more importantly, how much risk are you taking?

Develop a "to don't" list

Time management experts stress the importance of having a “To Do” list that will help you identify and execute the most important things. What it won't do is help you identify what you should eliminate from your day. For that you need a “To Don’t” list for things that need doing…just not by you.

The Time Management Index

Time is wasted in a thousand different places in your day and there is no magic silver bullet that can change things in a single bound. There are a number of areas that have to be addressed and it is an ongoing process that needs to be continually repeated as inappropriate things creep back repeatedly into your day.

The easiest starting point is to identify tasks that you perform that are below your pay grade. The most effective way to do this exercise is to keep a log for as long as you can bear (but at least a week) of all the things you do. If you cannot bear to do it this way, then write down a list off the top of your head and then think repeatedly throughout your day whether the task you are performing is one that you should be performing…whether it is below your pay grade.

When you have a list of the major components of how you spend your day add four columns to the right hand side as follows, each on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is unimportant and 10 is extremely important:

· Importance. Use whatever criteria you deem best to identify the importance level.

· The pay code for each activity. To express this on the scale of 1 to 10 have $15/hour as 1 and increase ratably to $350+/hour for 10.

· Ability to delegate. The harder it is to delegate and the more reluctant you are to let it go the higher the score you should give it.

· Total. Add the scores from the other three columns.

Once you have done this sort by the total column and start to evaluate the task with the lowest score and see whether it is something that can easily be removed from your day.

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Time Management Tips

  • When somebody interrupts you when you are busy, don't let them interrupt your train of thought. Ask them to come back and see you at a specific time – you may be surprised that they actually figure out the answer and don't come back to ask you.

  • Everybody has about three hours during the day when they are at their best. Figure out what your "Prime Time" is and then plan your day around it. Make sure that you dedicate that time to focus without interruptions on the activities that are of most value to you.

  • It is all too easy to waste time on phone calls. Keep an egg timer next to the phone to keep track of exactly how long you are talking. It will keep the time you are spending in the forefront of your mind and will help you handle the call more efficiently.

  • Never go to the bank to deposit checks, it is a Time Bandit way below your pay grade, and claiming it is therapeutic and gets you out of the office is deluding yourself. Send somebody else!  Better still, get a check scanning machine...and make sure the bank pays!

  • Organize your office so the door isn't in your immediate line of vision. The big payoff is that people can't appear at your door, hover, catch your eye and distract you. If you make it harder to interrupt you, people may figure out answers themselves rather than asking you.

  • When you have to give out an e-mail address to somebody who's going to send you things you don't want in your inbox, give them a special "junk" e-mail address. Then set up a rule so that everything to that address goes to a folder you review on your timetable.

  • When somebody interrupts you to ask you a question always reply with a question back. Ask them how they would deal with it, and make them think proactively rather than just relying on you. A good technique is to ask: "If I wasn't available today, what would you do?"

  • If your key customers expect you to answer the phone at all times, get an Internet phone line and give them a "VIP" phone number to call. Set it up with a unique ring on your system and you'll know that calls on that line are from your most important customers.

  • Most people have a “To Do” list to record the tasks they need to "Get Done", but it doesn't help identify what you shouldn't do yourself. For that you need a “To Don’t” list. Identify the culprits, put them on the list and defend your time by assigning them elsewhere. 

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone now as the most dangerously effective of all Time Bandits. Turn off your e mail alert and check your e-mail only four times a it on your schedule not the schedule of the people who are interrupting your more productive work.

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone as the most dangerously effective of all time wasters. The worst thing is the e mail alert that pops up on your computer screen. Don't let other people interrupt you in this way and take back control of your time by turning the alert off

  • When somebody interrupts you while sitting at your desk, stand up. It changes the pace of the interaction and sends a message to the interrupter that they have invaded your time. The more you can send this message, the more effective you will become at protecting your time.

  • When somebody comes to you with an issue they should figure out themselves, don't allow yourself to relieve them of the burden and take it on yourself. Instead of saying "leave it with me" when this happens, say "never delegate upwards" and ask them for their solution.

  • Entrepreneurs wear so many of the hats in their business that many of the tasks they carry out are at a level way below the real value of their time. Are you working below your pay grade by not handing off menial tasks that should be done by others?

  • When you are hiring new employees, ask candidates about their time management abilities. The best employees are those that can prioritize their work and handle interruptions, so be sure to ask relevant questions to probe in those areas so that you hire somebody who has those skills.

  • Email has become a huge time-waster and taking control of your Inbox is becoming more critical than ever. The ideal state is only to have things in your Inbox that are important, urgent or time sensitive, and to put everything else automatically into folders using Rules governing what happens when they come in. I’ve been using Outlook Rules for a number of years to sort specific topics, but I recently came across a new rule that makes a dramatic difference.

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Entrepreneurs wear so many of the hats in their business that many of the tasks they carry out are at a level way below the real value of their time. Are you working below your pay grade by not handing off menial tasks that should be done by others?