Monday, April 23, 2012
Actions That Will Save Time
Do you know what time it is? It’s “Time Management” month. Did you know there was such an occasion? Yes indeed! Consider for a moment that “time management” is much more than how you plan and spend your time each day. In my seminars I often ask: “Can you manage time?” I always receive a variety of answers; but my answer is “No.” Instead, you must learn how to manage actions and choose to spend your time. In other words; “actions that produce productive results lead to the efficient management of time.”
There are many actions and techniques that you can employ to help you be more productive and hopefully save you some time.
Starting today use these three specific actions and I guarantee you will save some of your valuable time
1. Stop hiding behind e-mail. Sometimes it’s better to just pick up the phone, have a five-minute call, get to the point, listen to the tone and get your questions asked/resolved. Stop the back-and-forth; it takes more time. And, if you need to cover your you-know-what, then write a brief follow-up e-mail to summarize the key points discussed and file that away.
2. Use one electronic task management system. Yes, “electronic.” If you still prefer a paper list, print your electronic list and use it to jot things down throughout the day. Everyone needs a location to store ideas, tasks and projects to get them out of their head and down into a collection tool. I recognize there are numerous tools (software, apps, etc…) to help you track and organize your tasks. The number one problem I see with task management systems is that the end user never fully implements the system and doesn’t get all of the tasks into a system to they can use it on a daily basis. I also see a lot of wasted time trying to take a system or methodology (such as GTD – Getting Things Done) and spending so much time trying to get the software or app to “conform” to the methodology that they end up not getting things done. So far I’ve not found the perfect piece of software, cloud-based tool or app that solves everyone’s needs 100%, what I look for instead is “how” can we use 80% of the functionality and perhaps slightly modify our methodology so that it’s a great fit for everyday use.
Please understand that there is a difference between a “task” and a “project” and there are solutions to help you manage both. Action Method is a great example of a tool that allows you to track both. A “task” is a single action item, while a “project” is comprised of multiple action items.
My final bit of advice on this action is that you ensure your electronic task management system of choice syncs to all of your computers and mobile devices so you always have the most up-to-date version of your lists at your fingertips. At the end of this newsletter, I share information about a FREE app that will help you synchronize your tasks in Outlook to your iPhone if you don’t like how the “reminders” in the latest version of the Apple iOS displays them on your iPhone.
3. Schedule time for administrative tasks. Everyone has some administrative tasks they need to complete on a weekly basis. However, unless you are in an administrative role, you may not have considered that these may never get done if you don’t make time for them. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are notorious for avoiding such vital activities as recording expenses, invoicing, following up with clients, paying bills and keeping customer information current in a CRM.
Just this week I had a call with a potential client who claimed she had piles all over her desk, yet stated she had multiple systems to manage all of her client’s paperwork. She also knew that she should only touch a piece of paper once. When she was offered help, her response was “no one can help me.” I would beg to disagree. What the conversation really boiled down to was that while a)she had a system(s) and b) knew what to do, she never scheduled time on a daily or weekly basis for this task. Over time, as the piles built up, it this task became much more time-consuming to look at old information and make decisions. If this was done on a more frequent basis, it would require far less time to complete the same task.
And to her point you should only touch a piece of paper once; I disagree. There are “some” papers you should only touch once and be done with them; but the majority of paper you will need to touch more than once. What you need is a place to temporarily store them until you are ready to take the next action.
There is one final thought I’d like to leave you with….”Everyone is busy, not everyone is productive.” I hope that you will discover that if you implement just one of these actions that you will save a bit of time – time you can use for something you really enjoy!