Once upon a time, I bragged about how easy it is for me to “roll with the punches” and “go with the flow.” I thought it was a good thing ALL, THE, TIME.
Now I realize that isn’t true.
Spontaneity is awesome when your husband says, “Let’s go to Mexico next week!” Or your sister calls and says, “Surprise!! I’m in town for 24 hours! Let’s get together!”
Not stressing about saying “yes” to those things is a great attribute! Even being able to magically whip up your second-grader’s school play costume at the last minute is a talent.
I once thought I could never live by a weekly, let alone a monthly, family menu plan. That was WAY too restrictive!!
Now, you might be asking yourself how this relates at ALL to designing homes. Amiright?!
As it turns out, planning is EVERYTHING when it comes to building a new home from scratch! From the plan design to the landscaping to the selections required for all the finished surfaces. The more planning that is included, the better the long-term end results will be. Guaranteed.
Here are the top 5 strategies I’ve implemented (or am working on implementing) in my business to be more productive and efficient with my time:
1. BROAD TOPIC SCHEDULING
Block time for one “type” of work, like answering emails
Jordan Page is my hero for showing me there is a way to plan AND still leave room for spontaneity and fun. (Is she not the most fun person on IG? I want to be her child – or business partner. Either one would suit me fine.) Her block schedule system is genius in its simplicity – and it works for my “Keep It Super Simple” (aka: KISS) brain.
2. YEARLY FORECASTING
Calendar known events like conferences, potential client projects, payment renewals, etc
Again, I have to turn to my pal, Jordan here. Another brilliant thing I learned from her was the YEARLY calendaring method. At the beginning of every year, she and her husband calendar all family, personal, social, and work events they can think of! It all goes on the calendar – in January.
Every birthday, holiday, family vacation, couples retreat, school event, soccer game, wedding, work event … EV-ERY-THING!! From there, everything else that came up has to fit around the pre-existing events.
I tried this a few years ago with my kids and our summer activities. Implementing this tactic made our entire summer full of fun and intentional time together. I loved everything about it. If I hadn’t given each day an “identity” we would have had another summer where we wondered what we did with our time.
3. SCHEDULE THE NEXT EVENT
Set up the next meeting on a calendar shared with all participants (provide relevant information ahead of time)
When I worked for the builders, we had professional business coaches who trained the entire staff on ways to improve our business practices. It seems so obvious now, but one of my greatest take-aways was “Schedule the Next Event.” At the end of any meeting, the goal is to schedule the next task required for progressing toward project completion.
Something as simple as scheduling the next meeting at the end of the current meeting sets the same expectations for everyone involved.
4. SET THE INTENTION
Start and end meetings at the appointed time and have a clear purpose for the meeting
It is said that Oprah conducts meetings with three simple questions:
1. What is our intention for this meeting?
2. What is important?
3. What matters?
Let’s be honest – nobody likes meetings that seem to have no real value or purpose. We all have better uses for our time than just pretending to be productive and professional.
A good way to set the intention for the meeting is to have an agenda or topic for the meeting as well as to provide the related information PRIOR to the meeting.
And a good way to avoid the meeting altogether is to implement a strategy used by Brooke Castillo is her business “The Life Coach School.” Before any employee is allowed to ask her a question – about anything! – they first must ask themselves the question.
Then, the employee has to work to ANSWER their OWN question. Only after they’ve done the work and still not finding the solution can they turn to Brooke for help. This solves the majority of the “Brooke questions” and empowers the employees to trust themselves to find their own answers and solutions. The bonus? It also frees up Brooke’s time to pursue more worthy tasks that will bring added value to the work they are pursuing.
5. PROTECT YOUR TIME
Schedule all the tasks and breaks required to get the work done efficiently (it’s even okay to include things like mental breaks)
I once had a boss who was a total pro at starting and ending meetings on time. When the scheduled time arrived, he started the meeting – whether everyone had arrived or not. And then, when it was time to end the meeting, he did…. Just like that! At the time, I found it a little cold and impersonal. But now, I value that predictability and respect for others’ (and my) time!
Speaking of annoyingly awesome – let’s talk about doctors and dentists – and even my mechanic!! They all are incredibly busy and run their entire businesses on scheduled meetings. We LOVE the ones who get it right and can’t stand the ones who don’t.
I haven’t met a doctor or dentist who runs their entire schedule on a whim. Advanced planning requires more lead time. They leave room for minor emergencies, but it’s limited. And it has more rigid requirements. Often there’s an extra fee for after hours’ appointments.
Now as a self-employed business owner, I find myself seeing the other side of the coin AND appreciating the awesome in the annoying. It is no one else’s job but our own to protect our limited resource of time.
BONUS: LOOK AHEAD
A bonus tactic I employ to help me overcome my “squirrel” (aka: ADD) tendencies, is to always look ahead to see what’s coming down the line. This helps me not get caught off guard or think I’ve forgotten something. It helps me stay on task better.
Some days are good.
Some days are a total fail.
But there’s effort every day to be better at each one of these tactics. And the cool thing about this all… it creeps over into my personal life. So, it becomes a complete win.
So, which one are you? Scheduled or spontaneous?
What’s working (or not working) for you? Do you have a TOP 5 list that you use for your time management?
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Thanks for being a part of our tribe and happy planning!