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Are Your Hours Yours or Ours?

Time management- it seems there is just not enough time in the day to get done the massive amount of issues and tasks in front of us every day. Calendars, schedules, Outlook, phones, computers programs- no matter what method of scheduling you use, it just seems to be the running-around-like-a-chicken-with-his-head-off-syndrome. Getting behind early in the day is brutal, and then it's a day of playing "catch-up." We start the day with good intentions, organized and scheduled, and within 5 minutes (if that long) we get derailed. Sound familiar? What say we rebel and say- I'VE HAD ENOUGH... IT'S TIME TO TAKE BACK MY TIME!!!

Let's first look at how much time you put into controlling your time. Do you keep a set schedule, or do you wing-it every day? For me, my schedule is neatly laid out for me weeks in advance, but it seems I always end up putting out fires in between my neatly laid out day. Clients call with last minute needs and concerns, and I do my best to take care of everybody on a timely schedule. The problem is though, there's only so many hours in the day and since we have to do things like eat, sleep and occasionally see our family, decisions must be made as to realistically what can be done in a day's work. I take my clients issues very seriously, so some days are long past the regular quitting time. Some issues are time sensitive and must be attended to immediately- those issues can't wait. So, let's look at our basic day as we think it should go, and go from there. It actually starts with the end of the previous day.

Every day before I leave the office, I make up a very short list for myself- 3 items- no more, no less. Those are the things, regardless of how much time it takes that I must get done tomorrow. I try to include 1 of the 3 items as a chore that may have been on the list too long, or one I don't really care to do... which is why it's been undone so long. These 3 items may take 15 minutes to do, and everything else is icing on the cake. If it takes ‘till 9:00 PM to get them done before I go home, so be it... that's the commitment and it can't be broken. It really works, and you'd be surprised how many things get done that have been languishing about which are now checked off your done list. Another thing I try to do is to look around and find something every day that I'm just plain tired of looking at- and get it filed, put or thrown away. A little at a time makes a difference in a small office, and in a short time you'll see progress, which is very encouraging to continue in your task of clawing your way to the top. But what happens if no matter how hard you try, you can't get out from under? It's easy... time to get help.

I'm sure you are very good at what you do, which is why people call you to do it... and are willing to pay you- bonus! But, how many things do you do that you really detest doing? On top of that, you really don't do it very well at all. Look at what you charge for your time in your professional life, and then look at the ancillary things you are doing that could be done by another person who actually loves doing what you hate at a much lesser cost! Now, look at your hourly or daily rate and what you would be paying another highly qualified person to do those tasks, and you'd see the outcome is the tasks being done with greater efficiency while you are working at your regular rate. Hiring a person to help you should not be a cost- it should be an investment, that pays you back in multiples since it gives you more time to work at your regular hourly or daily rate. Your schedule will be more organized, you will get in more billable hours or days, and things will go a heck of a lot smoother. So, when you feel you are up to your neck in work or just can't handle the flow, ask for help- it should do wonders for your blood pressure as well as your bottom line!

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