I am so blessed to work with such an incredibly amazing team at Southwestern Consulting. This week I bring you some serious wisdom from one of our coaches, Kristen Hartnagel.
“If I could just get half the things done on my list, I wouldn’t feel so overloaded!” If this is you, let’s take a timeout to explore some time management strategies.
Of course, I’ve heard many clients say they don’t have time for planning. That’s a big red flag. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”, take your pick – we’ve heard the warnings – let’s understand this much – You will gain by making time for Time!
Here is a 3-step process that can help you feel like YOU are living your life – instead of life living you!
Part 1 | Planning Checklist
Not on the fly as ideas break through your awareness, but as an intentional exercise, write down everything you’d love to get done in the coming week. Include everything, from the drycleaners to cleaning out the closet, from work and your personal life. It’s ok to add to it later, but this initial effort is important.
Once you sit and put your mind on what you want to accomplish, more ideas will come to you. We’re taking advantage of the Law of Attraction here – thoughts attract like thoughts, so sit and do a brain dump, with no judgment, just let it all flow and get it down on paper. Next, go back through your list and assign A’s, B’s & C’s to prioritize. In Part Two we will assign these items to specific time slots on specific days, so you might decide A’s need to be done today, B’s need to be this week and C’s need to be done but may not be time sensitive.
Part Two | Ideal Schedule
Create an Ideal Schedule for the week by assigning the items from your Planning Checklist. We may not live it perfectly, but if we don’t know what the perfect week looks like, we may never know how close we can get! Put the A’s into your Ideal Schedule first. Any appointments you already have need to be placed. Also, as an example, since most of my clients are working on ways to grow their business, prospecting is an A. So phone time needs to go into their Ideal Schedule.
We respond to routine, so it helps if you can block like things at the same time everyday. Color coding makes it easier on our brains too as we don’t have to read each entry as we become accustomed to what colors mean. Having a routine becomes something stable, reliable. When we can count on it, it frees our mind so we can better focus when we move on to the next thing. Many people resist this at first, claiming they need to see people whenever it is convenient for their prospects – but those who truly take this on and guide people to appointment times that don’t interrupt their crucial prospecting time have experienced amazing results. Like Randy Boss from Ottawa Kent Insurance who said, “For the first time in a long time, I’m going home on Friday without feeling like I have to go back in on Saturday!”
Next, place B’s and C’s in any remaining time slots, as available. Block ‘white space’ time too. This is intentional time with no agenda. This is time to address things you ordinarily react to that can throw you off schedule. Now you can respond instead of react – you can ask yourself, “Can this wait until white space time?” Giving yourself the opportunity to make a decision like this can pay huge dividends. Once your Ideal Schedule is complete, print it out and send it to your VIPs. My Ideal schedule goes to my team, my team leader, my assistant and I post one so my husband and my kids know my plan.
Now, once this Ideal is created, the goal is to live it as closely as possible. It becomes your North Star, your guide to your ideal. But live from your normal schedule. For instance, any new appointments or adjustments that need to be made, I handle in my Outlook calendar. I do not go back into my Ideal Schedule and make changes. And even though I may not live my ideal week as planned, I can rest assured that I won’t get too off track, because of part three.
Part Three | Button Up the Day
In order to develop this habit of planning your work and then working your plan, it’s important to Button Up the Day – EVERY DAY. Compare what actually happened to your Ideal Schedule. Anything that did not transpire can be assigned a future time – thus making time for it in my Outlook calendar, or it goes back on my Planning Checklist to be assigned to a future date.
What about your Big Picture goals? We can live groundhog day until time runs out and never do the things that make our hearts sing, if we don’t make time to take action. Sometimes we struggle knowing what action to take. To help with this, make a mind map to move from concept to action. Put your goal in a circle in the center of a piece of paper and brainstorm into satellite circles. Think about how you would tell someone else to do this thing you want to do. What might you need to start doing, stop doing, do more of, do less of? And each of these might lead to their own satellite circles and reveal their own actions. These actions can then be added to your Planning Checklist and Ideal Schedule.
Time to be a student of the game, to work on coaching action items for instance, goes onto your Planning Checklist and into your Ideal Schedule too. Your Planning Checklist and Ideal Schedule might include things like goal review, practicing talk tracks and making a call list for the next day. Some actions are daily, some weekly, monthly, quarterly and some annually – but your ever-evolving Planning Checklist keeps them on your radar so great ideas don’t fall away.
Take yourself on with this process and soon you’ll find that time is on your side!
Need some accountability in you life to help with this process? CLICK HERE to set up a 1 on 1 call with one of our Professional Sales + Leadership coaches.