Abe Lincoln’s Philosophy:
“One hour of preparation saves me eight hours of perspiration.”
• Preparation involves Planning – short and long term
• Planning involves Time Management
• Time Management requires being Organized
Being prepared means that you have spare tools on hand and quickly accessible. To be prepared, store frequently used back-up supplies in your office and close to your desk. Take a look around your work area. Do you have these items available without having to get up from your desk to retrieve them?
• Extra paper
• Stapler refills
• Blank file folders
• Pens / highlighters
• Ink Cartridges
The average person that leaves their workspace in a corporate work environment is gone 8 1/2 minutes. In a home-based office, that number can easily triple to over 20 minutes. After all, you might have to pet Fido, check the mailbox or make a pit stop at the coffee pot!
Plan your schedule before it plans you! Preplan & then plan again. Use Friday afternoon and/or Monday morning to decide what you will accomplish that week. In order to keep your eye on the big picture, it is critical to block time in advance of your workweek for setting your intentions. The most influential business people take time every week to plan their agenda. Most do this as a wrap at the end of the week and again before they begin work on Monday.
On Friday, before you end the day, make notes about what you were not able to finish on your tasks/goals list and move those items forward onto the next week’s schedule.
On Monday, before the day begins, which means literally before checking emails, voice mails and attending meetings, take the time to schedule your unfinished tasks. Compile your new list of tasks to accomplish that week. Set your schedule as much as possible during this critical planning time. Create umbrellas or intentions of activities planned for each day that week.
Time Management – Umbrella Your Day
You save countless hours by grouping related tasks together in to the same time frame. For instance, making all of your follow up calls together, researching in long uninterrupted blocks of time. To umbrella your tasks, you first need to list the tasks that you need to perform every week onto a sheet of paper. Then you can begin to allocate time in your schedule for these recurring tasks. Block tasks into similar types of activities, for instance, phone calls, paperwork, outside meetings. • Divide your main job activities into 5 days
* Planning Day (Friday or Monday)
o Set goals/intentions- line up the week
* Current Large Project
* Outside Appointments, Client Meetings
* Client Follow-up and Research
* Administrative, Reports & Paperwork
• Create chunks of time for related activities, if possible by day. Inotherwords, if you need to research client files every week, schedule your research for the same day each week. The benefit of this is that when a client calls for information, you can safely tell them tat you will be working on it on a specific day. I know what you are thinking at this point, “but they want it now!”Trust me when I say this, clients care more about the quality of your work and whether you meet your promised delivery date more than they care about instant gratification. Good things take time. As an entrepreneur for the past twenty years, my clients have taught me this over and over again. You can offer price, service or quality – choose two of these because you can never offer all three consistently. I have always chosen service and quality. Lower pricing always involves speed because of low margins, which, in turn, sacrifices quality and service. Okay, enough Sales 101 training… The same rule applies for outside meetings, filing, phone calls and whatever else you need to do to be successful in your career. If you know when you will be able to make phone calls, you can easily tell your clients when you will be getting back to them. Filing on a regular basis will relieve you of paper maladies that also block your productivity.
This tactic not only helps you increase productivity, it also gives you a solid structure to provide amazing service to your clients. This method allows you to tell your clients exactly when you will work on their project and helps you set future appointments with ease. For instance, if you know that you are on outside appointments every Thursday, you know that this is the time to book the appointment time when a client requests a meeting.
Granted, things happen and there is never a perfect and consistent schedule. Some clients might insist that you see them on a different day than your designated “client meeting day”. The upside to umbrella planning is that if you decide to honor their request, you are fully aware of what will get bumped in order to accommodate them. Knowing this, you can make a very informed decision about whether to bend to their scheduling needs. Sometimes it is advantageous, sometimes not. More often then not, clients are more flexible than they acknowledge, especially if they know that you are organized and professional with your schedule.
Check back for the continuation of this article…