Effective Time Management – Separating Entrepreneurs from All the Rest
The end of the year is a great time for personal assessment. Many great entrepreneurs use this time of year to not only plan next year’s journey but to make an honest appraisal of the last 12 months of our lives. As I look forward to 2010 I see a calendar that is almost overflowing as it is. I’ll be putting on a major marketing conference for lawyers in the middle of January and likely leaving the next week for 2 1/2 weeks in China as Sandi and I travel on another adoption journey. For those of you who don’t know me well, David and Leah (12 and 11 years old) will be our eighth and ninth children (and our third and fourth a adoptive children.)
My list of things “to do” in 2010 is enormous. We’ve already blocked out two separate vacations; I’ve got trials to try; one high school graduation; a major book to finish; and several other books that will promote my law practice to complete. In addition to running my personal injury and medical malpractice law practice, Great Legal Marketing will celebrate its fourth birthday in February and that’s one month after we celebrate the one-year anniversary of taking over the local Glazer Kennedy Insider’s Circle chapter. Each month I produce three newsletters to mail, two coaching calls, two mastermind telephone meetings, a host of weekly faxes and e-mails and I manage and write for five blogs. I run twelve day long mastermind meetings during the year for my attorneys and local small business entrepreneurs. I will run at least one marathon in 2010 and yes, I do get to 95% of all of the sporting event and extracurricular activities my kids are involved in.
I tell you all of this not to brag or to suggest that your life is any less busy than mine but simply to say that “if I can do this then anyone can.” I do not have any more time than you do. One thing that I think I’m pretty good at is valuing and guarding my time. In fact, I understand that the number one thing that others ask about me is “how does he get it all done?”
In his book, No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs, Dan Kennedy starts by defining entrepreneurship as “the conversion of your knowledge, talent, guts, etc.- through investment of your time-into money. As you might imagine, Dan Kennedy looks at the “management of time” a lot differently than all of the other time management authors. If you have never read this book then you must put it on your list to be read before January 1. If you have read it before, pick it up and read it again. Every lawyer who joins my coaching program gets a copy of this book. It is one of the most important books I’ve ever read.
Here are principles drawn from that book which I have found most viable:
Assess the true value of your time. Kennedy has a formula which goes basically like this: look at your base earnings number. As Dan puts it, how many dollars do you want to make next year? Next, look at how many hours you are genuinely productive. Warning: the best way to do this is to run a time log on yourself for a week. Every 15 minutes right down what you just did. After two days you will probably want to rip your hair out. Using a very generous number, most entrepreneurs and executives are productive no more than one third of their working hours. Many-far less. By honestly evaluating your number of productive hours and dividing your base earnings goal by the number of productive hours you will really see what every wasted minute costs you.
Surround yourself with people who understand and respect the value of your time. Here’s a giftgiving idea: give those with whom you interact frequently a copy of Dan’s book. (They will understand you better.) A corollary to this principle is to get rid of those people who don’t value your time appropriately. Here is what is really important here: your key staff needs to know that they do have access to you; it just won’t be whatever they feel like walking down the hall and knocking on your door. Pre-plan the appropriate number of meetings, and the length of those meetings, each week. This will seem hard at first. I guarantee you that you and they will be more productive. It forces them to “bundle” all of those things that they believe need your attention and then to prioritize them for your meeting.
Teach your email correspondents how to communicate with you. This began for me by eliminating staff e-mails to me. Whatever it was they were going to e-mail they now “batch” and we talk about during our short meetings. Read and then give everyone else a copy of the book “the.Hamster Revolution, How to Manage Your E-Mail before It Manages You.”
Eliminate the need for doing or delegate those tasks and activities that cannot and do not match up to the value of your time. The hardest thing for most entrepreneurs to start do is to “give up control.” I will tell you from experience however that letting others do things that are not an appropriate use of your time will be like starting each morning with a can of Red Bull after your coffee. It will be addictive and productive. Today I employ “virtual assistants” as contract workers across the United States and around the world. The key is finding the best people for specific jobs. For example, one of my virtual assistants tracks down each of the failed credit card transactions each month in Great Legal Marketing. We have a 100% collection rate. Another assistant designs might print ads and “landing pages” for Web advertising. Another transcribes audio recordings and changes them into blogs.
Learn the power of saying “no.” Again, this is really hard for entrepreneurs. People who are seen in the community as successful and being able to get a lot of things accomplished get asked by others to accomplish more things. It can be an ego thing to say “yes” to every committee assignment, local leadership position and other “this will really be good for you” invitation. I am giving you permission to say “no.” Remember, if you are reading this you likely have sole responsibility for your own and your family’s financial stability. You likely have “responsibility” for employing other people and competing in the marketplace with others who are trying to steal your customers/clients. You have the responsibility for maintaining the emotional stability of your family as well. Everything else is extra. Everything else comes after you maximize your own physical health, financial health, emotional health, spiritual health and “fun health.” Please do not feel guilty about this. You cannot help other people to your maximum ability unless you first maximize your own health in all of the above areas.
Copyright © 2009 Benjamin Glass – About the Author: BEN GLASS is a Fairfax small business owner and marketing and small business consultant. He runs monthly marketing meetings for Northern Virginia business owners and entrepreneurs. To come to our next meeting for free, and get one of Ben’s books, for free, visit http://www.Glazer-Kennedy-Virginia.com or call 877-IBA-GKIC (877-422-4542)