If you”re anything like me, there never seems to be enough time to get all of the things done that you”d like to do. If your income goals are as high as mine (seven-figures,) then you also realize that you”ll have a very hard time reaching them if you”re trading time for money. I realized this second point when I first noticed all of the doctors and lawyers leaving those practices to start their own businesses. When I asked them why, they explained that they only got paid when they worked, and that the fact that they could only work so many hours per day was what limited their incomes the most.
Assuming you”re not simply trading your time for money… working for a salary or at an hourly wage, how do you simply get more done?
First of all, you need to make sure that you”re only trying to do the things that you should be doing. For most entrepreneurs that means doing things to grow and market your business. Most other work should be farmed out… subcontracted or outsourced to technicians. If you can easily hire someone to do it cheaper than you can do it, then YOU shouldn”t be doing it.
Trying to do everything yourself is one of the biggest reasons I see most netrepreneurs failing. You simply can”t be an expert at everything, or do everything yourself. You need to identify those things that will offer you the highest return on your most limited asset (your time and then you need to focus on doing just those things.
Yes, you may need to understand how to do some basic things yourself at first. For example, when putting up your first website, it may make sense to learn some basic html or at-least how to use a WYSIWYG (what You See Is What You Get) HTML editor. If you can afford to hire a webmaster and programmers to do everything for you though, even learning those things may not be the best and highest use of your time.
My personal experience, like that of many of my contemporaries, is that I learned to use DreamWeaver to do my own webpages. I simply didn”t want to be trapped waiting for my webmaster to make minor changes (that I knew would dramatically improve my bottom line) to a webpage . Good webmasters and programmers are often in high demand and very busy.
After I learned to do the basics, I also often fell into the trap that I want YOU to avoid. I want you to do two things. First, learn to say “NO” and secondly, learn to prioritize.
Learning to say “no” can be hard. It”s human nature to want to do favors for others. We want to be liked. We believe that if we say “no” to requests for assistance, we will be liked less. Until you learn to say “no” when you have a full plate, others will control your time and decide what you do… when. You can”t afford to put that much control over your time, your business, and your LIFE into the hands of others. So, it”s critical to master the skill of saying “no” sometimes. You can do it politely 🙂
Learning to prioritize is the second essential that you must master. Otherwise, you”ll simply find yourself doing the easy, enjoyable things that produce little long-term benefit, while you ignore the very things that you should be doing.
There are a lot of systems for prioritizing, and you have to choose the one that works best for you. For me, it involves making a list of the things that I must get done and then doing the most important ones first. This takes firmness and being honest with yourself. You have to do the most important things first because, then, if something doesn”t get done, it will be the less important things that you simply can”t fit in.
In prioritizing, you do need to seek balance though. Things you probably don”t want to compromise are your health and your relationships with your family. Make those a higher priority than business.
A common trap too many netrepreneurs fall into… one that I”ve fallen into, is offering to do too many things for others. In a phone conversation, or perhaps a discussion board thread, someone needs help doing something that is very simple to you. You try to explain to them how to do it, and they just don”t seem to “get it.” So you offer to do it for them. Before you know it, you find yourself doing the very things that you normally get someone else to do for you so that you can focus on better uses of your time.
Here”s how I got out of the trap I just described… I often had clients who needed to get minor things done before we could get other goals accomplished. They needed to know how to do minor things like FTPing a file, making minor edits to webpages, or perhaps changing out a graphic. In the interest of expediency, I often offered to do these minor chores… until I saw how often they mushroomed into major projects. My solution…. I found, or created, video tutorials explaining how to do these simple task. I reasoned that it made more sense to just do the task once, and record it so that I would have it handy if needed again.
If you visit my site at: http://WillieCrawford.com/how.html you”ll find links to a few of these videos I did in Camtasia. These are flash videos on how to:
1) Copy and paste
2) FTP a file
3) Make minor webpage edits etc.
I actually have dozens of these but just share these few with you for illustrative purposes. Setting up something like this may be a great time-saver.
Very similar to the concept above, if you find yourself getting asked the same questions over and over again, perhaps you should set up a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on your website. This will stop hundreds of emails or phone calls. Just make the link to it prominent on your website.
If you find yourself answering the same email questions, or requests, over and over again, set up email templates in your email program so that you have those answers handy. Then, often all you will need to do is pull up the template and change the name to respond quickly via email. You could also use programs that scan an email looking for keywords and then automatically send a response based upon the context of the email. That”s a little advanced for this article, so I won”t explain it here.
Similar to the Camtasia videos, if you find youre explaining the same thing over and over again, you could also post an MP3 tele-class recording online for your clients. You could also just set up a phone line with the recorded messages, instructions, or other information, and provide your clients with the phone number for listening to the recording. Many sales organizations use this idea for weekly training meetings, etc.
There are many other common sense things you can do to get more done. A couple of quick ones that I use are:
1) Just working smarter… i.e., I don”t stand in line at the post office. My staff and I have arranged to just walk up to the counter and leave the containers full of mail on the counter. The clerk simply gives us more mail “buckets, and we buy postage in bulk or over the Internet. If we do need to actually talk to a clerk, we visit the post office during the least busy times of the day… NOT during lunchtime when everyone visits the post office.
2) Avoid time wasters such as spending too much time at online discussion forums. These can be great places to network, brainstorm, or do research, but make sure youre not just avoiding getting started on an urgent project.
3) Identify when you are most productive and use that time to do your most challenging work. Set aside times when you are least productive (based upon your natural body cycles) to answer email or return phone calls.
4) Stop procrastinating! Often we procrastinate because a task seems so large. Simply break it down into bit-sized steps and it will seem less ominous. Then choose a step and do it. Mark that step off your schedule to reinforce the fact that you are making progress 🙂
5) Automate where possible using things like autoresponders and interactive web forms to dispense commonly requested documents. You can even use software to automatically update or change the content on your webpages. One such piece of software that I use and love is called “Traffic On Steroids.” You can check it out at:
These are just a few of the ways that you can get more focused and get more done. It”s really just a matter of prioritizing and then doing it. Adopt just a few of these ideas and you”ll be surprised at how much more you do actually get DONE! Without implementing a few of these suggestions you can”t be successful simply because you”ll never finish all of the tasks that you need to do.