Are You Managing Your Day or Is Your Day Managing You?

Jun 3, 2010

“…but Mike, I don’t have enough time,” says the anonymous, struggling owner with about $400,000 in office revenue as we discuss strategies he agrees he needs to implement to grow his business.

This is a common lament among the many owners I coach and mentor.

Let’s face it: As recruiters, we are salespeople. If you own your own firm, you are an entrepreneur. Is there no more perfect recipe for short attention spans, lack of planning, and focused effort?

Here’s the big problem.

Most of us (me included when NOT planned) REACT to incoming calls, issues with our employees, incoming emails (this one is huge), the shortage of staples in our office, etc. in the MOMENT instead of having a system of handling these issues.

When we react, we diffuse our attention. When we react, we are by default unable to be PRO-active.

Here are some ideas on how to fix that.

1. Before you leave the office Friday night (or if you prefer, on Sunday night), invest 30 to 45 minutes and answer the following questions:

  • What do I need to accomplish next/this week?
  • What is the best use of my time this week?
  • What will I start to do on Monday and what time?

2. What is the payoff of the above to complete the above activities?

  • What can be delegated? (Tip: if you are managing your database, your computers, ordering office supplies or doing data entry, delegate these tasks to an assistant or hire someone part time to do them.)
  • Train someone to do those tasks like research that take up much of your time.

When asking the above questions you need to answer them in the context of the vision for your company and your annual business plan. Are the answers to the above questions moving you closer to your annual goals or not? If not, why are you doing them? You would be surprised how many times I ask that question and get the “deer in the headlights” look and response of “I don’t know!”

This is what being proactive requires. It REQUIRES you to look at your annual plan (some of you may need to write one first!) and chip away at the objectives one week and one day at a time.

But where do you find the time when your recruiters are asking questions, candidates are calling and you need to order staples to keep the office running?

Follow these SIX simple steps and you will add two to four hours of productivity EVERY Day:

  1. First, track a week of your time in a notebook in 15-minute blocks to see where your major time leaks are. Begin to reduce these the following week.
  2. Schedule two or three hours of strategic initiative time into your weekly calendar in one-hour blocks. Don’t answer the phone or take questions from your recruiters during that time. Also, this is key, CLOSE YOUR EMAIL application during this time. Most calls, employee issues, emails, or office supply orders can wait at least an hour to be handled.
  3. If you run your own desk, have uninterrupted phone blocks in your day to make your calls. Again, no questions from employees during this time. For the truly proactive out there, close your email for at least ninety minutes during your call time.
  4. Put office training and development on your calendar one to two weeks in advance. I like to do this first thing at 8 or 8:30 am for about 45 minutes three days a week.
  5. Schedule “open time” in your calendar every day to handle the unanticipated. It could be 11:30 to 12 and 3:30 to 4:30. This does NOT mean you sit there and do nothing if there are no emails or employee questions. You can continue to make your calls, etc. but you allow interruptions from your employees, vendors, and emails without feeling like you are falling behind.
  6. To avoid the temptation to be taken off track with one of those random thoughts that crosses your mind while in one of your focused time blocks, keep a simple, small note pad on your desk. When one of these thoughts cross your mind and it is NOT part of the task you are focusing on, write it down to do during lunch or one of your open time slots.

In summation, stay focused!

If you are a billing manager I bet you make MORE phone calls, have MORE connect time, and MORE openings than having traditionally scheduled days where every hour contains bits of every task.

I also bet by focusing on days and weeks as blocks of time as it relates to your business plan you will actually get to some of those strategic things that you have been meaning to get to. I challenge you to implement this in your day, starting NOW!

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