Successful people make great use of time. A busy life can be fun but can be very stressful if you lose control. Regain control through time management.
I have always led a very busy working life running a number of businesses concurrently. It has been amazing fun but there was a time when it became stressful primarily because I lost control of my own time.
My primary profession is Dentistry so I had a very bust ten hour day packed with appointments. My patients are also busy people and do not like being kept waiting. As a dentist, time management is delegated to a receptionist on whom there is a different set pressures to constantly find time for busy people and emergencies.
Take control of your own time.
There were many other calls on my time for the needs of the other businesses and for voluntary activities. Gaining control of time management made such a difference. How did I do it?
Time cannot be created was my constant complaint to those who managed my diary. Squeezing an appointment in between two others satisfies the customer or patient and removes the stress for the secretary but just creates stress for me, causes delays and bad reputation for me as a professional.
In a busy life, diary management will normally be delegated to others. It is important to set the rules so that it is managed thoughtfully but never wasted. Your diary or appointment book is your life and not for anyone else to manage for their own interests.
Time is like a jigsaw. Only so many pieces will fit. Forcing in another, no matter how small, will burst it apart. Gaps not filled are conspicuous.
Proper training of those responsible is essential.
Delegate all tasks other than those which you must do personally.
It is very motivational to do so for those to whom tasks are delegated. The question is simple. What is the best use of the time of every member of the team. This can be a great source of new ideas. Why don’t we do it this way? is often the first question asked by the person to whom a new task is delegated. Greater efficiency follows.
Have a perpetual to do list.
In a busy life it is easy to forget ideas which come to mind. Keep a method of note keeping – electronic or otherwise – beside you constantly day and night. Sometimes the best ideas come when asleep or you remember the need to do something important in the middle of the night, record it immediately. This removes the worry of forgetting which can interfere with sleep.
At the end of each day prioritise what needs to be done next day. Simple rule, if it is not on the list it cannot be done. First thing next morning read the priorities and find a spot where they will fit into the day list of the diary.
Many years ago I learnt from Brian Tracy the simple question. What would I have to do – must do – if I was called away urgently right now. This is a valuable exercise in a number of ways. As you go through your list you begin to realise what is most important but, equally so, you realise what it is that really does not matter.
It is also a brilliant way of realising what else you can delegate to others on a permanent basis. If they can be trusted to do it today then surely that must follow.
When a gap appears, make maximum use of it.
Put up your fees if possible.
If you are too busy it may be because your customers value you more than you do yourself. Your services may be undervalued. Put your fees up and test the market. This is one method of managing workload. It may be that with higher fees you will have less to do but profitability is better.
Be considerate of others’ time
One of the great stressors for me was being behind time and keeping people waiting. I like being efficient, neither too early or too late. We managed this stressor by calling people ahead of time to apprise them of the delay. If I hate waiting then perhaps they will also.
Avoid social media
Social media are a waste of time unless your business depends on the marketing from them. This is a task which can be delegated.
Don’t waste time on emails
A modern phone is useful, however, in helping to get maximum use of spare minutes. My first Blackberry saved me about twenty minutes at the end of a day because I could weed through emails in free moments.
If you want to be efficient, keep fit.
Above all, it is so good to keep fit. If you want to be efficiently busy, train for it. An hour’s running every day almost without fail made my life so enjoyable. Running was like meditation where the challenges of the day were resolved and wonderful new ideas flowed. It washed away the residue of the stress of a normal day. The beauty of running is that it does not require any arrangement with others so it does not have to be in the diary as a commitment. It can happen at any time of the day or night.
At the end of each run new ideas and solutions are immediately added to the list ready for the working day.
Read my new book: The Mind Diet.