Remember that feeling when you first decided to become an independent entrepreneur? If you are like most people you probably experienced a healthy amount of both fear and excitement.
Some of the key reasons why people go out on their own are to:
- Control their time
- Create a healthy work/life balance
- Make decisions without having to consult a boss or committee
- Spend more time doing what they love and less time doing what they don’t enjoy
- Gain financial independence
- And many more…
It doesn’t take too long before entrepreneurs feel overworked and sometimes overwhelmed with all of the roles and responsibilities they must accomplish day in and day out. When this happens, they feel trapped and exhausted. They feel that they are no longer running their business, but that that their business is running them.
Staying in this state of stress for too long is unhealthy both for you and your business.
So, what are some common symptoms that you are being run by your business?
- Your to-do list only gets longer and longer
- You and/or your team solve the same problem multiple times
- You continually miss important family functions
- You don’t, can’t or won’t delegate
- You’ve lost sight of your vision
- You are constantly interrupted
- You’ve stopped learning and growing
Can you relate to any of the above? Is so, don’t lose heart. There are solutions available to you. Once you have recognized and admitted that there is a problem, you’re on your way to make the necessary improvements. Here are some suggestions:
- Revisit or create your personal Vision Statement of what you want your business and personal life to look like. It is important to be able to articulate and envision the life you want. This is a powerful tool that will keep you on track by providing a way to evaluate what is a mission critical task vs distraction.
- Delegate, Delegate, Delegate – In the short run, it may be more efficient and time effective to just do it yourself, however, it will hurt you in the long run. Continually ask yourself this question, “What is the highest and best use of my time”. If you are spending too much time outside of those functions and tasks, you’re adding to the problem.
- Technology – Is your technology up to date and are you and/or your team taking full advantage of its capabilities? Improvement in this one area could free up a significant amount of time that could be put to better use.
- F.O.M.O. – Fear of Missed Opportunities. Are you a slave to your email and phone? Do you constantly monitor both? There’s no need to do that. All those self-imposed interruptions are cutting into your efficiency. Create a schedule to check on both voice mail and email messages.
- Outsource – Now that you’re thinking about what your time is worth and what the highest and best use of your time really is, it’s time to consider outsourcing those tasks that represent too much of a drain on your time.
- Playbook – Are all your processes documented? If not, it’s time to get started. Whatever can be reduced to writing and tracked can be improved.
To feel like you’re running your business like a business, spend a few hours each week evaluating, planning, and strategizing what’s working and where improvements are needed. Be sure to keep your vision in mind as you gage the success and effectiveness of each operation.
Good luck on your journey to success.
Many of you were trained to create to do lists every day. If the list got too long, you were taught to determine what is most important and then to prioritize A1, A2, B1, B2, etc. That system may have worked before we all became very busy and over-worked and our lists got longer and longer.
As a result, many of the things that needed to be done, go unfinished.
There are many reasons for this. Some reasons are totally out of our control. Yet you would be surprised to learn how many times we are the cause for our own lack of accomplishments.
According to research from iDoneThis (a project tracking software provider), almost 67% of professionals write to do lists, yet only 41% of all to do list tasks actually get done.
The Problem with To Do Lists
According to Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, to do lists have three major problems:
They don’t consider how much time a task will take.
To do lists are a great way to do a brain dump about everything we can think of that needs to get accomplished. This is an excellent start. But often that’s as far as it goes. We need to estimate how long each task will take. Without knowing that vital piece of information, we can’t plan accordingly.
They don’t distinguish between which ones need immediate attention and which ones are less important.
Traditional to do lists don’t necessarily distinguish between which ones are critical vs urgent vs important. This information is needed to properly schedule when the tasks need to be completed.
They contribute to stress.
These traditional to do lists that never seem to get shorter add to our tension levels. Just knowing that you have so much unfinished business, drains your energy and often prevents you from accomplishing what’s most important. It actually leads to procrastination.
Suggestions for Improvement
I’ve long been an advocate for the concept of time blocking (see my blog: (http://polarisone.com/blog/help-i-need-to-get-organized-once-and-for-all) My theory is that if you can’t plan what a perfect day looks like on a piece of paper, you have no hope of carrying out in real life.
Before you create that ideal day or week, get really clear on what’s important to you.
What are those key goals that you want to achieve? Each one of your to do’s must support those goals. If not, you’re wasting time.
Once you have that clarity, you can now begin to craft what your idea schedule should look like. Figure out how much time each task needs and then actually block off that time in your real calendar, much as you would an appointment for your best client.
Then show up at the appointed time and work on that task.
Your ideal week should also include both business and non-business activities to help maintain a good work/life balance. (For a sample Ideal Work Week, go to http://polarisone.com/free-book and download my book What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No Nonsense Guide To Sales Success for free.)
Make Actionable Statements
For an even more powerful approach to getting more of your to do list completed, once you have eliminated the non-essential or non-important items, convert the ones that are left into actionable statements. A well written action statement will take the guesswork out of what you need to do to accomplish it. It should be broken down into manageable small steps that will be easier to check off as complete.
Charlie Gilkey suggests that each action item be written as if you were writing it to someone else. This will make it easier to recall what needs to be done.
Action items should include as much useful information as possible. For example, when does it need to be completed? Does it need to be turned in or forwarded to someone other than you? Once you complete it, do you need to track any next steps? Can the task be assigned to someone else? If so, what background do they need to know?
In other words, tasks that get scheduled in your calendar that are written as action items stand a much greater chance of getting accomplished.
Determine Your Optimal Time of Day
Here’s a secret I learned many years ago. Determine what time or times during the day you are the most productive. Don’t squander that time by doing mundane tasks like checking email or social media. Leverage that time to make a real difference in your personal and business life.
Good luck on your journey to success.
Over my many years of executive coaching, I have learned that there are certain common traits that successful producers have in common.
Most of these success traits have many layers. The most successful producers master these levels either through their own actions and skills or by surrounding themselves with a team of qualified and competent people who do, and then manage their team effectively.
If you have ever said to yourself:
- "There's not enough time in the day to get everything done,"
- "My to do list is out of control,"
- “I'd delegate more if I only had the time to do it,"
If you have then you're probably a good candidate to make some improvements in more effective time management.
So where do you start? It all starts with having a very clear and passionate desire to achieve very specific goals. Once you can articulate what these goals are, you will be able to then evaluate how you are spending your time and where your energy goes each and every day.Read More
It has been my experience that most people who make New Year's resolutions don't achieve the vast majority of them.
Is that true for you as well? We start the year with ambitious goals and wonderful expectations, yet not even before January comes to an end we find ourselves off-track. Why is this phenomenon an almost universally common experience? I believe it is true because most resolutions are merely ought to's, should do's or nice to do's. They are merely a hopeful wish list.
Make this year different. Here's how. Ask yourself this question, "If there is only ONE THING that I can do differently this year that would make all the difference in the world to having me achieve my goals, what would that ONE THING be?"Read More
"Nothing is as fatiguing as the continued hanging on of an uncompleted task."
It's quite simple, really. Doing the same things in the same way yields the same results. It's not rocket science. Working harder at doing the same or ineffective activities is self-destructive and zaps your energy and enthusiasm, and steals away precious time, yet we often persist in our "old" and comfortable ways.
Why? Because it's often easier to continue with our old habits; change takes effort, and not everyone is comfortable with the idea of change. In fact, many people are so frightened of change that they'll often settle in life rather than face their fears.
In order to conquer your time and organization management problems, to improve your insurance and financial services practice or to experience personal and professional growth, you must do things differently. I recently assembled a research and development team to explore the problems associated with poor time management and organization. We discovered that there were six categories that included at least 30 blockages to effective time and organization management.Read More
Perhaps one of the most frequent questions I receive in my coaching practice is, "Can you help me get organized once and for all?" or "I don't have enough time each day to accomplish everything that needs to get done, can you help me?" Are these people saying that they don't know how to get organized? I think not. Most people already know what to do to solve a problem or initiate a new goal or strategy.
Too Many Promises and Good Intentions
The way our mind works can get in the way of us actually following through on our goals or the promises we make to ourselves. Basic human nature causes us to move in the direction of what gives us pleasure or to move away from what might cause us pain or to be uncomfortable. Therein lies the problem. Overcoming this natural tendency of doing what feels good and not doing what doesn't feel good is a real challenge.
Following Through StrategiesRead More
On July 1st 1976, the new National Air and Space Museum building opened its doors to visitors in downtown D.C. This was not your ordinary ribbon cutting ceremony. President Ford was among the dignitaries present who watched a red, white, and blue ribbon being cut by a signal radioed back to Earth over nearly 200 million miles away from a Viking spacecraft that was approaching the planet Mars. Within two years, the museum welcomed over twenty million visitors. To this day, the National Air and Space Museum greets about 10 million visitors each year, making it the most visited Museum in the world!Read More