Time Management : How to Create Effective Default Schedules
Join master business coach Michelle Landis, as she strives to create success and abundance for every business owner with the ActionCOACH method of focus, accountability, and results. Visit our weekly Q & A session as Coach Michelle tackles real questions on a variety of issues - and provides you with answers that will BRING RESULTS for your company!
Question of the Week: “I have a schedule at the start of each day, but I can’t seem to keep to it. How can I better manage my typical business day?”
Coach Michelle: Previously, we have discussed how to define the “Big Rock” goals for a business - the large and essential items that need to be accomplished above all else - so that the rest can fall into place. But often the “falling into place” part takes a good bit of organization and forethought as well.
A tool that I use to make sure I always have time for my daily “big rocks” and other necessary tasks is what I call a default calendar. In essence my default calendar is blocks of time where I schedule appointments with myself take care of my “big rocks”. I found that if I didn’t schedule these integral chunks of time, my day was likely to get filled with all the time wasters that tend to come along — drop-in visitors, meetings, telephone/email interruptions, etc.
A default schedule is NOT just a calendar, like the big one you are likely to have on your desk that lists your appointments and meetings.
A default schedule shows you specifically what you have to do and when you have to do it - with no ifs, ands, or buts.
To create a functional and realistic default schedule, follow these steps:
Step 1. Start with a blank week and fill in all the days and the times you will be working.
Step 2. Next, using blocks of time, fill in when you MUST REACT. These are the “big ticket” items that have to be done on a deadline. The rule is that these “Musts” cannot take up more than 50% of your total default schedule.
Step 3. Using another 25% of your schedule, fill in your “important reaction items” - ones that are secondary to your big rock goals, but still essential to your weekly business workings.
Step 4. Now take what is left and create your PLANNING time, or your OFFICE HOURS. You can use office hours to play catch-up with your smaller “musts” and also to think ahead for the next week. It’s very important that you hold to these office hours, to ensure that the “Must Reacts” and “Important Reactions” get completed.
By creating an effective default schedule, you can identify exactly what you have to do, when to do it, and how long it should take you. It will serve as the embodiment of the wise business professional you are becoming - unrushed, calm, proactive, and organized. A default schedule gives you specific instructions - so even on those days where you are feeling extra frazzled - there is a set of clear instructions for what needs to be done.
It may be a bit difficult to hold to your schedule at times, especially at the onset - in fact, it may feel like a brand new kind of self-discipline. I often remind my clients that it takes roughly 21 days to become fully introduced to a new habit. And that it takes about 90 days for a new habit to become firmly entrenched! So stick with it, and don’t give up!
Remember that time is the most valuable asset a business owner can possess. Don’t get trapped in the cyclone swirl of time wasters that crop up during the course of a day or work week. Have a default schedule in place at all times, so that you don’t let your excellent planning go to waste!
About the Author, Michelle Landis
Michelle is a certified Master Business Coach and owner of ActionCOACH of Greater Lehigh Valley/Berks. She is an educator and a business professional with over 25 years experience in the business world running both small and medium sized businesses. She has an extensive background in education, executive management, sales & marketing, operations and entrepreneurial pursuits that include international consulting in China, extensive teaching and educational endeavors as well as executive leadership roles with General Electric, Dun & Bradstreet and Armstrong World Industries. Her leadership skills have delivered over $58 million to the bottom line. Get a BUSINESS HEALTH CHECK with Michelle or connect with Michelle on FACEBOOK, join her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.