Like many folks in business today, I am pulled in multiple directions, subject to the whim of others in my personal and professional circles.  When in the midst of…

  • Launching a new business venture and setting up the proper legal and operational structures
  • Prospecting for new clients
  • Delivering to existing clients
  • Helping elderly parents
  • Working out to improve health
  • Advising the children
  • Doing taxes
  • Nurturing relationships with the important people in my life
  • Spending time on hobbies to help stay sane
  • Eating, breathing, and sleeping
…and hundreds of other things, there is never enough time to get to it all.  If not watched, I  end up feeling frustrated  by not being able to do all the things I  think I need to do.
Feeling bad about one’s own efforts is not the “secret sauce” in the recipe for success!
In  a previous post, I discussed ways to focus on activities that will get the results we want to achieve. Recent observations tell me we still struggle with “what should I do today” and managing our schedule. I find this particularly acute with established professionals.
Many of us achieved success in our professions through our abilities to multi-task and quickly produce deliverables and responses.  We were  rewarded for this behavior, through promotions, formal recognition, and increased compensation, and thus conditioned ourselves to continually “do more” and “work harder”. We pride ourselves in our ability and effectiveness in serving others.

Then, when we can no longer perform at or raise our personal maximum capacity, we start to skip steps, or take risks we shouldn’t. Perhaps self doubt creeps in. Maybe we start to ignore some things we shouldn’t, like personal health and family relationships and activities.  We become disenchanted with our personal effectiveness, and the inability to do all of what seemed so easy in the past.

As a “one man show” with my business, I  rapidly realized that to be a viable, ongoing entity, I needed to spend as much time as possible in revenue generating activities.  If I spend an hour in email  hell or in research on operational issue, that is an hour I am not putting my smiling face in front of a client. My chances of surviving the first year decrease proportionately.

To this end, I look at everything I do every day, sometimes a couple times a day I print my electronic calendar out and carry it with me, adjusting on the fly.  From  day to day perspective, I start the day by planning the day almost hour by hour and sometimes in 15 minute blocks. I purposely pull myself away from my PC, and check email during schedule gaps. I block out time for prospecting, client follow up, and whatever else leads directly to revenue generation.

Similarly, from a macro sense, I look to outsource or get others to do that which takes my time away from revenue generation.  For example, I’ve recently found a firm that has comprehensive services for handling my “back office” functions (payrolling, invoicing, W2 employee administration, etc.).  I’ve found solutions to handle all sorts of operational issues that are very cost effective manner, even for an organically financed start-up like mine.

It is a very simple “rule of thumb”: if it doesn’t produce revenue, don’t do it, do it later, or get somebody else to do it.

Do I stick to a rigid, outlined schedule every day? No. Stuff happens that can’t be ignored. But, these “crises” can be managed so as to minimize impact on the right activities that will lead to success. And, you’ll find most of these interruptions don’t require an immediate response.

By planning my day to a detail level, it reinforces my true priorities, and gets me focused on what I should be doing, and not simply what others of demanding of me.

Identify the “revenue” in your professional and personal life, and plan accordingly. If you don’t plan your schedule, somebody will plan it for you.