1. Take stuff. Never go to an appointment without something to do; especially places like the doctor or dentist where you could be waiting 5 minutes to 50 minutes. Reading is ideal; business magazines, newsletters, reports, or material you have to check.
2. Multi Task. Obviously not two important tasks at once; you won’t do either well, but if you’re on the phone to someone, clean your desk at the same time. Putting pens in the drawer requires no brainpower, but doing it later takes time. Another thing is to do something else whilst you’re driving. Either return phone calls (not those you need to take notes – and of course only using hands free) or listen to the kids spelling in the morning in the car.
3. Bulk up. When you cook something like spaghetti Bolognese, do a double batch and freeze one; you’ll really appreciate that quick meal after a busy day and avoiding take-away for the twentieth time that month.
4. Be prepared. Have a folder of reading material always in the car; even when you don’t plan to wait, it always happens – picking kids up from sport or you arrive for an appointment early – just pull it out and read a little. Mark top right-and cover of all material “read” to avoid any double ups.
5. Delegate - professional. If you’re running a business, this is a must. And it doesn’t just mean staff. If you don’t have staff, you can still outsource, especially the tasks which you hate, take up time and you may not have the specific skills for – bookkeeping is a perfect example. Sit down and write a list of things which fall into these categories – and seriously think about how you could delegate out this task and monitor it’s progress.
6. Delegate – family. Involve your children in your business in a way to earn pocket money. An 8 year old can easily (and even enjoy) shredding. A 12 year old (once shown) can do basic filing. It’s not “slave labour” as your older children may chime; you are teaching them the valuable lesson of work ethic, teaching them skills, preparing them to be able to write a great resume AND you are getting help AND spending time with them AND teaching them that money doesn’t grow on trees – it has to be earned.
7. Track your Time. You may say you work a 50 hour week – but do you? I run a consultancy business and before I began using the electronic timesheets which we now use (which tracks time in 5 minute increments), I thought I was doing 40 hours a week. Turns out that the first week of the new system, which was on a “quiet week” I did in fact 69 hours!! Way off the mark.
8. Control Interruptions. Whether you work from home or in a formal office, the interruption factor is devastating. At home, have work time and family time. Communicate this clearly with your family and stick to it ! If the kids show you work till 4pm and then will come out and spend time with them, they will learn to wait, but be prepared; pens down at 4pm sharp! In the office, don’t have a comfy chair in your office, it encourages “stay arounds”. Encourage co-workers to book time with you – not just drop as they feel like it. And then book them all in a block. That way, they know they have limited time and the next one is
9. Be organised. I can’t stress this enough. If you are not naturally an organised person, then I suggest you learn now. Better than reading a book, get material in CD format, that you can listen to in the car – saving you time in the process. Being organised is everything from having systems and processes, doing templates (such as marketing letters which you do over and over … write it once and well and re-use), have a place for everything and everything in it’s place and only handling something once. Use programs such as Tasks in Outlook to keep reminders on things to do or chase up – makes you very efficient.
10. You. You absolutely must make time for yourself and very regularly. I play netball on a Wednesday morning. This is “me time”. I do it even when I’m busy at work. I write the time in my diary for 9am every Wednesday. Do whatever is your release and gives you pleasure. Make it a monthly massage, or weekly sport, or ½ hour walk in the morning with the dog, 1 hour pottery class. It doesn’t matter what it is – just that it’s about you (grocery shopping, washing, typing kids assignments do NOT count!) and that it’s regular and that you stick to it.
ABOUT THE EXPERT:
Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. She shares this knowledge and expertise with clients to guide them in their own success. Donna is the author of the Stepping Stone series of books. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au