time-management-and-planning

How Time Management and Planning go Hand in Hand

We all know that time management is an essential part of running a successful business, and without a doubt, one of the keys to successful time management is planning. Planning your time is crucial if you want to be more productive, get more done in less time and achieve your goals, no matter how large or small. This is true for all areas of your life, not just in business.

Why is planning your time so vital?

Making a plan and sticking to it has many benefits; important tasks won’t be forgotten, you’ll use your time more efficiently and you’ll be less frazzled with everything you need to do in a day. Of course it’s only possible if you know what you should spend your time on and that means that a good plan is a necessary pre-requisite to being able to manage your time properly.

Planning also includes a couple of psychological benefits. Two of these are that having a clear plan and managing it:

  1. Gives you a sense of being in control – this gives you confidence and reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed. It reduces your stress levels and lets you think more clearly.
  2. Highlights the progress you’re making – you can tick off the steps to move towards your goals.

Being in control and making progress towards a goal are strong human motivators. You’ll be more organised, will achieve more in the same amount of time and you’ll be far less likely to procrastinate (a major productivity killer!).

How to ensure your plan works for you

When you’re putting your plan together, be sure to:

  1. Start with the end first

The goals you set need to be SMART ones – that is, Specific, Measureable, Achievable, a Result and Time-scaled. You won’t know where you’re headed unless you look at the finish line and work backwards.

  1. Make sure your goals are exciting to you

Do your goals excite you, and are they aligned with your long term goals? If not, you’ll find it hard to stick to a plan.

  1. Use as many steps as necessary

Outline the steps needed to achieve your goal. This makes the overall goal more manageable and structured.

  1. Make sure the steps are realistic

Including too many things to work on at once, or not leaving yourself enough time is going to be a goal killer. Look at the steps in your plan and determine whether they can realistically all be achieved in the time you’ve allowed.

  1. Monitor your progress

Make sure each step is SMAT – specific, measurable, achievable and has time allocated. It’s similar to SMART goals, yet because they are just steps in a plan, they are not each a result.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” so with this in mind, start planning today! For more information about time management and planning, download your free eBook “The Real Guide to Effective Time Management” here.

3 Tips on How to Beat Procrastination

Benjamin Franklin said “You may delay, but time will not.” Charles Dickens said “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” and Abraham Lincoln said “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

If these notable procrastination quotes aren’t enough to make you want to leap up and tackle your next business task – ActionCOACH has these 3 proven tips to show you how to beat procrastination.

Tip 1. The 1 Minute Battle

Let’s start by trying to achieve the opposite of procrastination. That is; achieving a ‘state of flow’ or getting ‘in the zone’. You may have experienced such moments where you are totally focussed on the task and achieve optimal mental or physical performance. You may have even surprised yourself with the amount you achieved in this space of time. So how do we do this every time we sit down to a task??

The challenge with getting in the zone is that it takes between 7-10mins for the brain to open up the neural pathways to align themselves for you to go into flow. If you can sit down and try to get through the first minute (we call this the One Minute Battle) then chances are you will stay for 7 minutes and get into the flow. So all you need to think about is “what am I going to do for the next minute?” The 1 Minute Battle can be applied to high value business activities.

Tip 2. Eat the Frog

Sounds delicious!??? Time Management expert Brian Tracy coined this phrase in his book, and he means if you were told you had to eat a live frog by tomorrow or you would die, when would you eat it? Either you would eat it immediately to get it over with, or stress about it until tomorrow and then have to eat it anyway. The same can be applied to all our challenging business tasks. At the end of each day, write down your “frog” that needs to be done the next day – i.e. the big, important, valuable thing you know you should get completed. The following morning, simply do it first and get it over and done with. You’ll be motivated and satisfied that you’ve made meaningful progress and the day has just begun….so you’re then likely to  get a whole lot more done in the rest of the day.

Tip 3. Remind yourself WHY

Interestingly it’s often the big and important tasks that are procrastinated over, while the quick and easy tasks get actioned immediately. This is crazy when you think about the value to your business if you complete the big tasks before the menial. If you catch yourself procrastinating – stand up, walk to a window and look outside. Stay there for 5 minutes and think about your business goals and dreams. Ask yourself, “Why am I procrastinating? Why would I want to delay doing this task and achieving my goals?” Then go back to your desk and keep working on it!

Finally, let’s quash a few of the 3 most common procrastination excuses out there, so we can leave them behind right now and get on with building our successful businesses!

  1. “I’ll start after…” If the most important tasks need doing, they cannot wait until ‘after’ anything!
  2. “It’s not the right time” If not now, when? Let’s face it – the time will never be perfect.
  3. “I’ve got too much to do” ActionCOACH has written several helpful articles on how to build processes and teams that will enable you to focus on the most important tasks in your business. There shouldn’t be a whole list of unimportant tasks standing in the way of the big stuff. <Click here to see a list of helpful articles>

ActionCOACH has worked with thousands of growing businesses to deliver strategies on how to avoid procrastination, and we understand that it takes a lots of time and tasks to achieve your ultimate business goals. Rest assured you will have some great, productive, effective and wonderful times, but you’ll also have some times where it feels as though you’re not in the zone at all. One great day won’t get you there, but one bad day won’t stop you getting there either. Stick at it, avoid procrastination and you will get there!

For more tips on Time Management, please download a copy of the free eBook here or contact ActionCOACH today for some one-on-one coaching that will motivate you and keep you focussed on the most productive tasks to propel your business toward success 02 9146 4439.

plan-your-time-effectively

How to plan your time effectively….to give you more of it!

Before you go leaping into action and working towards an end goal for your business (don’t get us wrong, ActionCOACH loves that kind of enthusiasm!) you will need to plan your time effectively. Without a plan, you won’t know how you’re tracking week to week and you won’t be as productive as you could be.

And we all want to work smarter, not harder, right?

How to plan your time

Whilst every time management plan is unique to you and your circumstances, the same principles apply for planning your time and getting organised and productive.

The process you follow each week should be the same. Sit down at the end of every week (a Friday or Sunday night), work out what needs to be accomplished for the following week and make sure you have appropriate time allocated to accomplish it all. This way, you’ll arrive to work on Monday morning, hit the ground running and maximise the value of your Reticular Activating System (RAS). Your subconscious mind is already processing it and getting it to work for you.

Principles to follow:

  • Look at your 90-day plan as a starting point – it will tell you much of what needs to be completed next week.
  • Not only book in specific times for meetings, but set aside specific times to do activities that will develop your business.
  • When setting aside time for work requiring focus and attention, make it a maximum of 2 hours. You’re unlikely to be able to work at your peak for longer than that.
  • For more complicated tasks that require concentration, make time earlier in the day. You’ll have more mental energy because you’ll be fresher. You’ll also be “eating the frog” (an excellent tactic you can learn all about in our free eBook)
  • When setting out your calendar for the week ahead, be sure to take into account your personal commitments, not just work tasks. E.g. Lunch with your spouse, a game of squash, kids sports activities, etc.
  • Be sure to include “buffer times”. After you’ve scheduled your meetings, set aside some extra time. The reality is meetings sometimes run longer than expected, you’ll still get emails and phone calls, there’ll be issues to fix, things to change and address, and unexpected problems that come along. Plan for these as well so you’re not stressed and pushed for time.
  • Once everything has been scheduled in, your calendar for the week should be full.

Categorising your tasks

Tasks and events that get added to your calendar can be categorised as either urgent or important. Sometimes they are both and sometimes neither.

There are often driving factors that determine when you do something. If a task is deemed urgent, it needs to be done soon. Are you doing it because it has immediate requirements? Is a client chasing it? Have you procrastinated too long and now it’s urgent?

On the other hand, for a task to be considered important, it must be something that will have a meaningful impact on the long-term value of your business. Designing a new sales process, marketing campaign, training a staff member – these only need to be done once but they are very valuable.  These are the sorts of things that build good business’ and are considered “important”.

When you look at your plan for the week ahead, ask yourself how much of this is important but not urgent? How much of your week are you spending working on your business doing those things that are genuinely building it into a great business?

The best practice ratio is to spend 60% of your working week on important but not urgent work, which is exactly what should be in your plan every week. If anything less than 20% of your week is spent on building the business then you have to ask yourself some serious questions.

When reviewing your plan for the week ahead, also ask yourself two other vital questions:

  1. How much time am I spending doing work that I actually pay someone else for?
  2. How much time am I spending doing work that I could pay someone else $50 an hour for? If you value your time at less than that, you’re not doing the work of a true business owner.  Consider how much time a particular task will take and whether you need to do it.

To learn more about how to manage your time effectively and build the best business you can, download our free eBook – The Real Guide to Productive & Effective Time Management.

How-to-increase-productivity

How to increase productivity with these 4 techniques

Ever wondered how to increase productivity so you can reach your business goals sooner, and possibly enjoy more breaks from the business? ActionCOACH has 4 techniques that have helped our clients increase their productivity straight away.

 

Technique 1. Plan your time.

This technique involves you sitting down at the end of each week and planning out what you will do in the coming week. It’s really easy, won’t take you long and is a great way to get clear on what you need to get done. It will make optimal use of your time throughout the week, because you won’t have those moments of “Hmm, what was I meant to do today?” Avoid using this weekly time plan to simply schedule meetings – instead, dedicate time to completing the most important activities for your business. This technique really only works properly if you already have a clear 90-day plan in place for your business, as this will guide you on what are the genuinely important things to achieve in the next week to ensure that you’re actually developing a great business and not just doing the urgent things or the things that someone else asks you to do!  If you don’t have a 90-day business plan, contact us here and we can help you create one.

 

Technique 2. Stick to the plan

So you’ve planned to do something at a particular time… this is for good reason! So it’s important to minimise distractions, stick to the plan and get it done. This is a crucial time management skill, and one that will become second nature after some practice. If you skip a part of your plan you are in fact sabotaging a small part of your bigger business plan. Another great reason to stick to the plan is because interruptions and distractions cause your brain to stop one thing and refocus on another, then refocus again on the first activity at the end of the interruption. Distractions cause a 50% reduction in your productivity, so wherever you can, don’t switch between tasks!

 

Technique 3. Have an accountability coach

Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to cost you a cent. Think of someone who cares about what you do and is willing to help you. Simply communicate your plan to this person, and schedule an accountability catch-up with them on an agreed day each week. Just like a child will work fastidiously towards a goal if they know you have a treat waiting for them at the end – you are more likely to be more productive when someone else knows about your plan and is holding you accountable for completing the steps in it.

 

Technique 4. Avoid Productivity Killers.

Looking to increase productivity? Increase your focus on health and fitness. Keeping fit might sound more like a distraction that a productivity technique, but in fact fatigue, stress, illness, poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle have a direct impact on your time management and productivity. How? Being fit and healthy not only gives you more energy but also improves your productivity and performance at work, which in turn makes you happier and a better spouse/parent/friend, which in turn motivates you to further build your health and fitness and so on. So it’s a great idea to look holistically at your business, personal life and health.

 

For more strategies on how to increase productivity and achieve your business goals faster download your free eBook on The Real Guide for Effective Time Management here or register for the 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar here.