Think about time management. Is this something that you have been told you need to do or do you really want to get control over your time? You can learn many techniques for time management but you’ll never put them to good use unless you actually believe in the concept. So how to you think of time? Is time something to spend or something to invest?
What Does Time Mean to You?
If you see time as something to spend, then you will fit well into a high structured business where the tasks are established as well as the time frames for task completion. You may want to save time instead of spend it, so you’ll find ways to cut corners at work or rush around doing personal tasks.
You are likely to say, “If I rush through this meal then I’ll have time to go to a movie.” That’s more about allocating minutes to use elsewhere than making choices about the value of the activity compared with the time necessary to do it.
On the other hand, if you prefer to invest your time, then you are more choosey about what you will do with your time. By thinking of how to invest time instead of how to spend it, you give time use a greater long-term value.
You also think of time as the precious commodity that it is. For example, if you want to finish a college degree or start a home based business, you must decide whether to invest your evening and weekend hours in your new venture or watch another video.
It’s easy to decide to crash on the sofa after a hard day’s work. You have to be committed to your dream to get up and walk away from the television or computer game and invest a few hours each evening on your future. Time moves forward, you can’t save it to use later. That’s why you need a plan each day on where to invest your time for maximum advantage.
Perhaps you have said that you don’t have enough time to start a home-based business or go back to school. If you will take a hard look at how you use the time after work in each day and on the weekends, you can probably find at least two to three hours each day and five to eight hours on the weekend to invest in your future goals.
Initially, this will seem you are giving up something when you miss the latest episode of some reality show or watch one football game instead of four games. It’s definitely a tradeoff but you are the ultimate winner as you invest time into something will take you farther in life than just sitting on the sofa.
When you need more money, you can borrow or charge it. But when you need more time, you have to work within the 24-hour limit. Print two schedules with 24 hours or 24 lines on each page. Start with how you currently use your time.
The Time Machine Diary
Block out enough time to drive to and from work or any other transportation time that you need between tasks. Don’t edit, you need to see where your time really goes. After completing the actual time log, use that information to design how you would like to invest your time.
You may not be able to convert to your ideal day immediately, but by having this plan, you can begin to make the changes needed to turn your ideal day plan into your everyday plan. When you think of time as an asset to invest in, then you become more likely to follow your ideal day plan and respect your time.
The 80/20 Factor
Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 80% of Italy’s wealth was in the hands of 20% of the population. This may not have been a revelation to the poorer class of Italians in the late 1800’s, but it did become a concept that has been widely applied in all types of business.
The Pareto Principle basically says that 80% of the outcome is from 20% of the input. In a time management context, you can say that 80% of your time is used by 20% of your clients.
Chances are you could easily name (and recall the phone numbers) for the 10 -20 most demanding clients that you serve. Those might be your 20%. The other 80% of clients are far less demanding and create little time demands.
Of course if 80% of your income is derived from the sales or service fees of that 20%, then you are less concerned about spending the extra time. Unfortunately, you may be overwhelmed by the demands of the 20% which do not generate the majority of your income.
Using your client contact time well is extremely important to increase your business. While you might think that continuing to provide a high level of service to existing clients is the way to go, you’ll quickly run out of time and fail to generate any new clients.
That’s there Pareto’s Principle works against you. As you bring in new clients to your business, you want to transition them to the 80% that require less service demands as soon as reasonable so that you have time to add new clients.
The first step is to analyze your client contact time for several days, preferably for one week. Just keep a notepad by your desk or an open file on your computer. Log your time with each client and a brief note about the conversation.
This will cause you to be more aware of time wasted in conversations with clients. Sure you want to be friendly and ask about their family, business, etc, but keep it short. As you get to know your clients better, it’s easier to spend too much time chatting about non-business matters.
The Ideal Balance
You need to find a balance between being too curt and distant v. too much talk about trivial things. If you reduced each of these conversations by 10 minutes, you could reclaim another hour easily, maybe more.
The second step is to structure your day for client contact. Even if your job is to be on the phone all day, make the effort to group your calls. Plan to make new client calls in the morning when you are fresh and enthusiastic. Set aside the afternoon for current client follow-up calls.
If you have any problem client calls to make, group those in a one hour block and get it over with at one time period. Decide in advance how much time you want to spend on each type of call, and then time yourself. As you get accustom to the flow of each type of call, you will begin to stay within the scheduled time naturally.
Finally, if 80% of your revenue or income consistently comes from 20% of your clients, consider hiring an assistant to work on some of the less important details in serving the other 80% of your clients.
That frees your time to spend with the 20% of clients who are supporting most of your lifestyle. If you can make more money by working with fewer, qualified clients, then your time spent with them, no matter what you chat about, is time well spent.