Time Management Tip Number 4 – If you have been following these series, you will remember that first we have looked at how to identify your time thieves in part 1, answering the question, – ‘What exactly are you doing wrong?’ In Part 2, we looked at what changes you need to make to your existing situation, before adopting new techniques – Making the necessary tweaks. Lastly, in Part 3, we outlined how you can move forward, with this new information and how to structure your time, starting with goal setting for your business.
In Part 4, we will use the list of goals you created for your business in part 3 and I’ll show you how to create a to-do list from this, then how to decide on what to do first (strategically) and how to plan effectively.
Let’s get straight into it.
Now that you have your goals, divided into the different groups, you need to create your to do lists to organize what needs to be done. It doesn’t matter whether you have set yourself weekly, monthly or yearly goals, what does matter, is that the actions that you schedule are aligned directly with your goals.
Breaking your goals down into manageable steps
Take out the piece of paper where you have written your goals and have a clean sheet of paper available as well. Number your goals and write the corresponding numbers on the blank sheet of paper. Next to each number write down everything you need to do to achieve your final end goal.
As a very basic example: If your goal is to sell 5 products a month, you estimate that you need to make 20 sales calls a month.
This may consist of
- Researching prospective clients
- Gathering contact information
- Personalizing the sales pitch
- Making the call/sales pitch
- Following up
What you can see is that the end goal can be broken down into many different tasks and stages. Most people fail to plan effectively because they don’t take time to consider everything that will need to be done to achieve the final goal. If you don’t plan for each goal thoroughly, you find that you are possibly underestimating how much time and resources are required, and you end up pushing out your deadlines and feeling disillusioned.
The main focus at this stage is: to consider the small steps you need to take, to keep breaking them down until you can’t anymore and make sure you write down everything you can think of.
STEP 2 – Making your To-Do List work for you
Now, you want to create one of those infamous To-Do-List’s. The reason why to-do lists don’t work is because people don’t actually use them effectively and therefore, they end up frustrated and wasting even more time using them.
- The first rule of a to-do list, is that it shouldn’t have more than 8 items or so on it at a time. Your mind immediately gets overwhelmed looking at a longer list, so you will find that the list will stress you out if you make it longer. Divide the list into different ones, different categories to make this work for you, different projects.
- Next, add a column for the start or deadline of the task/project, when does this task need to be started or completed by? This helps when planning, instead of having the date or a rough idea in your mind; you are planning more effectively if you work this way.
- Rank the priority of the task. Prioritizing effectively is not about doing the most urgent task first, you need to be strategic in your prioritizing. You might find that everything is important, but take sequencing into account , working on tasks that will support you in your long term goals and not only your short term goals (doing everything that is urgent). You might find that you work on tasks that don’t really add value to your business, but give you a sense of achievement. Read my book ‘The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Time Management’, to learn various ways to prioritize effectively.
- Lastly, include the time estimated. Too often, we underestimate how long things actually take and it can throw the whole schedule out. If you are underestimating, you will be over planning and you can imagine what will happen then. If you are not good at estimating how long it takes to do things, start to become aware of real time and build the skills of estimating how long things take. You can even start off by having a column for estimated time as well as the actual time it took and you can use this as an indicator to identify where you could improve in this area.When you are planning, you need to have all this information readily in front of you to make more efficient decisions. Download your free template here…
Next week we will learn how to take all this information and put it into your schedule and create yourself a time management system that triples your productivity and supports you in reaching your goals faster.
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To your success