In answer to earlier questions you will have worked out your three year goals to meet your vision of where you want to be in three years time, and looking back from there worked out what you will need to have achieved in one year and i order to meet the one year goals, what you will need to achieve in a month’s time, and to meet your month’s achievements what you will need to achieve this week and then what you need to do today.
You have done that, haven’t you? If not then now is absolutely the time to do it. Your goals need to be inspired by your very clear vision and from that vision you can look back and se what needs to occur for that vision to materialise. Just setting goals whether they are realistic, specific or timebound or any of those other good things is a waste of time if they are not drawing you towards your vision and will not get done, or will be done in an ad hoc manner.
Ok assuming you have gone back and done that you now need to work out your priorities. This is going to seem weird but the first thing you need to do is to set aside time when you do nothing on your business. Yes I mean nothing – no laptop, no email messages, no reading around the subject, nothing. Why? Because giving yourself a complete break gives the subconscious time to take stock of where you are and what you are doing. Be honest haven’t you sometimes had your best ideas when you are thinking about something else entirely, or when you are on holiday? If you can make sure you have a complete distraction so you don’t get the opportunity to consciously think about work either.
Giving yourself the occasional twenty four hour break gives you the opportunity to be really present with your family/ friends/ hobbies etc. and it is amazing how sometimes the subconscious works away in the background and the great thing is that it is brilliant for families and friends too to have your full attention for a day.
Because you carve out time when you cannot work on the business ( I won’t be prescriptive about how much, but I have seen a month to six weeks work very well!) it means that you have to be more effective and efficient when you are working.
The same process applies during the day. You now need to set priorities for the day
I have taken the basis of this (and adapted it) from the Steven Covey Book – if you haven’t read it I think it is one of the best business books of all time. First of all categorise your task into those items that are urgent and important, those that are urgent and not important and those that are important but not urgent. If something is not important and not urgent it is something that you can happily leave off the list entirely! If you are running your own business you need o make sure you have one marketing activity a day as that is important, particularly when you first set out when it will also be urgent as well.
Break up your day into either power hours ( actually 50 minutes focused work followed by ten minutes stretch. do something different/ make a cup of tea), or into half hour slots (actually 25 minutes, followed by five minutes breaks – called pomodoros – you can get an app for it on the iphone). Personally, although I used to do “power hours” I found that the half hour slot was better as I could do half an hour’s tedious task and focus on getting it accomplished, whereas the thought of an hour of it would put me off and I wouldn’t get started. Funny how cleaning the bathroom really needs to be done when there is a deadline looming!
Anyway allocate your time to the different slots. It is easy to think ” I must do all the urgent things first” – if you do I can almost guarantee that you won’t do the important but non urgent task. What is important but not urgent? Health is classic one – unfortunately we can’t just go to the gym once and say ” we’re fit and healthy” we don’t need to go anymore, it has to be ( virtually) daily practice. If it is not then it is so easy to say ,” yes I know, I will go next week”. I know I do it myself. We know what to do but don’t do it, because we do not prioritise it. If you do just one important none urgent thing for your half hour slot ( going for a run or bouncing on a trampoline), then focus on the urgent and the important ( meeting a marketing deadline for a press release) then you will have made progress towards those longer term goals that can easily be ignored.
One point s that only answer your emails at one time during the day ( not at the beginning either), ditto answering phone calls. They are almost certainly someone else’s urgent items, not yours.
Well I must stop now, my pomodoro is coming to an end.
Plan Your Time, or more correctly your priorities
First allocate free time where you spend days where you do NOTHING on your business. These give you time to recharge, do other things and give you perspective.
Allocate a priority to each task on your to do list –
urgent and important;
important and not urgent;
not important and urgent;
not urgent and not important
Break up your day into hour/ half hour slots and put the important tasks first ( even those that are not urgent)
TAKE ACTION… Better to take some action and tweak it later than to “get it perfect” and miss the opportunity