Sunday, April 14, 2024

Manage Your Time with Focus Days

At this very moment, should you be reading this article? Have you allowed e-mails, books, newspapers and magazines to become a distraction? Is their something else you should be doing right now that can help to reduce your expenses or increase your profits?

The book of Ecclesiastes suggests, “There is a season for everything.” The key to effective time management is based on your ability to schedule the right tasks during the proper season. Just as there is a time to plant and a time to harvest, there is also a time to review your finances and a time to manage your team. Anxiety and her older sister depression begin to enter the picture when you fall prey to the seduction of multi-tasking.

You can’t walk in two different directions at the same time. So, why try and make sales calls in the midst of dealing with staffing issues. Your attention is never focused on one activity and thus your effectiveness is greatly diminished. Studies repeatedly prove that you can get more done in less time if you focus on one activity at a time.

You probably feel that your business is unique and it’s hard to focus on one thing when there are 101 items on your to-do list. I’ll challenge your thinking by suggesting that your business is more routine than you realize. Bills need to be paid, products have to be ordered and you need to attract new clients. You waste a great deal of time by dwelling on these activities and then attempting to work on several projects at once amidst a constant barrage of interruptions.

Hundreds of my clients have been able to increase their productivity and spend more time on the things that matter by creating a series of Focus Days. These are days during the week when you focus on specific activities.

Let’s first make a list of all the things you need to get done during a typical week. Next let’s place all of these items within a few categories. With a few exceptions, you’ll find that all of your business activities fall into the following areas:

1. Sales – Direct-to-consumer activities related to closing the sale

2. Marketing – Creating a “buying” environment for consumers

3. Finance – Review budgets, payables and receivables

4. Management – Recruit and manage your team

5. Operations – Logistical issues that keeps the business running smoothly

6. Customer Service – Delivering on the promise made to the customer

7. Training – Improving your team’s skills and knowledge

After you establish your business categories, next decide which days and times during the week you plan to focus on those activities. Have fun with this portion of the exercise. When a small business owner tells me that they don’t feel like doing something, I respond by saying, “Okay, then don’t do it. Instead, how about doing something that you feel like doing?” It’s possible to run your entire business by doing things when you feel like doing them. The only catch is that you have a week to complete the task.

What do you feel like doing on Monday mornings versus Thursday afternoons? Breakdown each day into mornings and afternoons and then place each of the seven business categories into a specific time period. This enables you to create a week that allows you to do things when you have the energy and desire to complete them.

For example, your week may look something like this .

am – Finance / Operations
pm – Training

am – Marketing
pm – Sales

am – Sales
pm – Customer Service

am – Customer Service
pm – Sales

am – Customer Service
pm – Management

The final piece to this time management puzzle is to learn how to deal with distractions. Here are a few tips:

1. Alert your employees, vendors and clients to your new schedule.

2. Develop a habit of checking e-mail only three times a day.

3. Find another business owner who can hold you accountable with daily phone calls.

4. Plan your week on Sunday night.

5. List the top 3 activities you plan to complete during the day, before you leave the office each day.

Work on the most important activity first.

6. Post your new schedule filled with the focus days where you can see them each day.

7. Ask yourself continually, “Is this the best use of my time?”

8. Consider how to delegate, eliminate or automate it, when faced with a task.

9. Send all calls to voice mail during your focus days.

10. Consider visiting the library if your office proves to be too noisy.

11. Teach your team members how to create their own focus days.

12. Treat yourself to a reward for sticking to the schedule.

13. Clean-up your desk at the end of each workday.

I began by asking you, if you should be reading this article right now? Consider reading articles during the focus day set aside for training. Just make a schedule that feels comfortable and stick to it.

Andrew Morrison is the founder of Small Business Camp – an entrepreneurial training, coaching and marketing services firm. Previously he built a multi-million dollar
direct marketing company. He was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Visit to register for his FREE business building tele-seminar.

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