The list below is a wake-up call for most of us. We all have 24 hours in a day. But some people seem to get so much more done than the rest of us. How is that possible? Where are the time thieves that sap our productivity? Here are a few possible hidden time wasters:
1. Solo lunches. As a business owner, your number-one task is to “always be marketing” your business. If you find yourself frequently sitting at a restaurant alone, or staring quietly at a sandwich in the confines of your office, it’s time to make better lunch plans. Once a week at a minimum, take your best clients out to their favorite restaurants to find out what’s new in their lives, and to learn what you can do to help them. Likewise, schedule time each week to take out one of your favorite CPAs or estate attorneys to see if you can be of service to their clientele. You might even consider hosting regular lunch workshops for your clients and their friends to go over the latest market developments.
2. Not having daily goals. Do you show up at the break room at 10 a.m. for your second cup of coffee and realize that you have no earthly idea what you’ve accomplished since you arrived in office? If the first hour or two of your day consists of “checking email,” realize that you’re sacrificing nearly 40 hours every month, or one entire working week! Consider setting up a daily tracking system and award yourself points for daily productivity. You could award yourself a range of points for outgoing phone calls, face-to-face meetings, meeting preparation, and new business signed. One advisor I know strives for “20-point days” at least 10 days out of the month. By staying active and focused, the revenue follows.
3. Goofing around on social media. The “web” lives up to its name … a giant time trap. Think of “time” like a fly caught in a spider web. Sure, the internet is useful for booking flights, purchasing gifts, and catching up with old friends, among other things. But it can siphon away hours from your day without your notice. You may start out searching for something work-related, and end up having an online chat with your 7th grade locker buddy on one of the myriad social networking sites. Discover your biggest online time traps by keeping an “internet diary.” This is similar to a “food diary” that dieters are encouraged to keep. Make note of what site you are surfing, and what time you “logged in.” Do this for a week to get a better sense of your surfing habits. Bottom line: It’s alright to check in with the chat room for your favorite sports team – just don’t spend the whole afternoon there.4. Not listening to something educational during your commute. We all want to relax and listen to our favorite music or talk radio station. But if you spend any significant amount of time in your car, you really could be short-changing yourself. What if instead of rehashing the maddening political news every day, you listened to a motivational book on your mobile device? Having a supply of “books on tape” can turn your car into your private institution of higher learning. What if you brushed up on an investment topic in between appointments? Would you arrive more fresh and poised to discuss business? Try it out.
4. Habitually checking your revenue. Knowing your “daily run” for your firm’s revenues, can be a powerful motivator and keep you on track. Spending too much time obsessing over your revenues, however, can be a waste of time – or worse. I once interviewed a money psychologist who mentioned this habit as a sign that someone has an unhealthy attachment to money. Don’t define yourself by your money. Define yourself by the value you provide your clients, and the money will follow. It’s unlikely that you’re spending an inordinate amount of time counting your “fees” but a better use of your time might be meeting with people who can introduce you to your next client.
What your biggest time traps? Use the comment box to share.