8 Guidelines For Scheduling Your Time
Create Time Blocks
Look for activities that are the same and seem to occur randomly throughout the day. This could include answering phone calls or answering employees questions. Now, find a way to group these activities into individual time blocks, and add them to your schedule. This may mean, for example, that you will return all of your telephone messages at 10:00 AM and then again at 3:00 PM. The rest of the time, you’ll be unreachable, except for an emergency. What constitutes an emergency? This will vary from business to business, but you have to be clear about with the person that takes your messages for you. Whenever possible, daily tasks should be completed during appropriate time blocks.
Use A Gatekeeper
If at all possible, have someone else screen your visitors and your phone calls. They can then set up appointments for you that fit into your schedule rather than allowing you to be disturbed at random throughout your day. If this is not possible right now, voice mail and posted office hours are a good start.
Increase Your “Green Time”
Do some business development work each day. If you don’t start doing this now you will never get around to it, so schedule some quiet time on your calendar and let your employees know you will be unavailable. This makes many entrepreneurs nervous at first. They imagine that if their employees are unable to reach them for an hour that everything will fall apart. If this describes you, try it for two weeks as an experiment. You will be pleasantly surprised that your business is still standing when you open up your office door at the end of the hour.
Plan the following day at the end of each day, the following week at the end of each week, the following month at the end of each month and the following year at the end of each year.
Choose the one or two most important tasks you need to accomplish each day and don’t leave work without completing them.
Do one thing at a time and complete it before moving onto something else. Most entrepreneurs think and move at an accelerated pace. Consequently, they do not typically have the patience to finish what they have started. They want to move on to the next thing right away, so they leave a wake of unfinished projects behind them. Unfortunately, this approach can be highly unproductive. Successful entrepreneurs realize this, and though it may be against their nature, they make a conscious effort to complete what they have started, or at least have someone else do this for them. They know the value in an activity cannot be realized until it has been completed.
Organize Your Meetings
Whenever possible, schedule your meeting in advance rather than holding them spontaneously, and always use an agenda. Also, make sure your meetings have both a starting time and an ending time. (There is more on meetings in Book 2 Management).
Learn to Say “No” to Low Priority Items That Pull You Off Your Direction
This is one many entrepreneurs have trouble with. They know they can solve nearly any problem an employee brings to them, so they are inclined to do so. It just seems easier to say “yes” and take over than say “no” and leave the problem with the employee. “No” doesn’t mean that you are not interested or are not willing to help, it just means you are not willing to take your employees’ problems off of their shoulders and pile them onto yours.