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One of the biggest challenges we have as leaders, is TIME.

It’s one of the rarest commodities that we have. So we have to know how to make the most of it. In this week’s blog I’m going to talk to you about how to make the most of your time. Let’s talk about time.

There’s some really key things that you can do to make the most of your time. So there’s three key things I want to talk about today.

The first is, Knowing What Is Vital.

What is vital for you to do in life? What is vital for you to do in your business? What is vital for you to actually do? So how do I get the most out of my time and work out what’s vital? One of the key things is remembering that if everything is urgent, nothing is urgent. If everything is important, nothing is important.

So think about what is actually urgent and important in your business. What is vital? Because I hear a lot of leaders talk about I need to … I’m prioritizing. Yes, I prioritize. I’m amazing at prioritizing. But I see them running around like a headless chook. So it’s really, really important that we actually work out, not only what is really important to do in your business, but also who is the most important person to do that.

One of the questions I constantly ask myself whenever I’m doing anything is am I the right person to be doing this task? Am I the right person to be doing this activity? And if the answer isn’t yes, absolutely. Then I look at delegating. And we’re going to cover more about delegating in upcoming blogs, so keep any eye out. It’s really important to understand what’s important, what’s urgent, and make sure we aren’t making everything important and everything urgent, because otherwise we’re cancelling it all out.

We also need to know what is vital for our business. A lot of leaders, we’re very hard on ourselves. So we think that everything is vital. When reality, is opening our doors throughout business is vital. Having some type of stock on show is vital, but having everything perfect is absolutely not vital. So when we are actually feeling time poor, we actually need to think about, well what’s vital and what’s not.

  Number two is to think about Scheduling.

One of my old mentors used to say to me, “if it’s not scheduled, it won’t happen.”

But I see a lot of leaders and especially in the organizations, in the business that we’re in actually forget to schedule. They just hope for the best during the day, and actually what we end up doing is we turn into a bit of a Tasmanian devil and we just start spinning from crisis to crisis. Which won’t, helps us, it only drain our precious time and energy  and ultimately really just stops us knowing what’s vital and we still don’t schedule anything!

So if you know that there is a portion of your day that is going to be unplanned, we’re in the retail business, right? So there’s going to be a portion of our day that is either taking up the customers, with unplanned things, then make room in your schedule. What I see a lot of leaders do, is actually plan themselves out around 16 hours of work to be done in an eight hour day and then wonder why they feel like they can’t get everything done.

So when we’re looking at scheduling, we actually need to think about what is actually achievable today. We do this really well Christmas time. We actually go, you know what? I’m going to be serving lots of customers, that’s not achievable today. We need to take those skill sets that we use at those peak busy periods and actually use them every single day. What’s achievable? What’s on my schedule today and am I just carrying the bucket?

Now what do I mean by carrying the bucket? You’re putting out fires, so you carry the water bucket with you everywhere you go. We need to put down the bucket and start planning. And think about this, are you planning to succeed or are you planning to fail? Because if we don’t have a plan in place, if you don’t have some type of schedule, some type of ritual, then it’s going to be quite hard to get things done.

Now I know in a retail business you might be saying, Julie, how the hell can I schedule?

You can schedule when you do your rosters, you can schedule when you actually take a break. You can schedule lots of things in your day to day and you can also schedule and go, you know what? These are the times I’m going to be needed on the shop floor. So think about it. When are the times I’m going to touch base with my staff? When are the times I’m going to train my staff? When are the times I’m going to do the vital things for my business? The ordering, the rostering and schedule it in.

If you start saying to yourself, if it’s not scheduled, it’s not going to happen. You will actually notice how quickly you can actually pick up pockets of time. Here’s the other thing with scheduling, we can actually start to notice where we’re wasting time. If you think about it in your personal life, a great way that we waste time is either television or social media, great time wasters. But we have lots of those things in the business life as well.

Email is a great time waster, so schedule it in. Email is not an urgent form of communication, so we need to stop treating it that way. Telephone, that’s the urgent form of communication. So, schedule it in and then follow the schedule and then tweak, it’s always about those 1% tweaks. So what’s worked and what hasn’t and do I need to allow more time in my day to actually be serving my customers, helping my team, coaching my team, whatever that looks like for you. But remember, you either plan to succeed or you plan to fail. We have the choice, which is the amazing thing.

The next thing that is vital to taking back your time is, Learning To Say No.

As humans we sometimes struggle. A lot of us struggle to say no to things. We struggle to say no to that meeting. We struggle to saying no to that event. It’s all about learning what to say no to. And there’s a couple of different elements to this. It’s about saying no to overbooking yourself. I’m sure you’ve got a time where you actually said yes, I will attend that meeting or attend that function or whatever that looks like and actually realized you didn’t have space in your calendar for it. And what we have tendency to do, is we actually strip away something from ourselves. We might say, I won’t have lunch today so I can go to those meetings or I’ll work an extra three or four hours today so I can attend all those things.

So when we start going back to number one and thinking about what’s urgent and what’s important, we need to also factor in starting to say no. It’s not about just saying no to everyone. It can actually be going back to people and saying, okay, well I can’t actually do that timeframe but can we push it out a day? Or I can’t make that meeting, can we schedule something in quickly to talk about that?

 It’s no with an option. It’s not just saying no to everything. What’s the other option, that is a bit more flexible and is a bit more suited to what’s happening with you. The other thing is not to overburden ourselves outside of work, because we actually need downtime. We need time where we actually haven’t got anything planned. We need time where we do the things that we love to do.

So when we talk about scheduling as well, Schedule In Some Fun.

Too many leaders I talk to don’t have any fun in their life. Scheduling some time where you do something you really enjoy. It doesn’t have to be minute by minute, but schedule in some time where you go and have some fun! Where you spend some time with the family, or friends or where you just do nothing. Because we need to rest our brain, it’s not meant to be working a hundred miles an hour, 24/7.

Learn to say no to the things that aren’t as important. And sometimes it’s about saying no that you won’t do it, but one of your team will. I was talking to a leader recently and they were going to lots of meetings. They didn’t need to go to, their team could go to them. So think of ways that you can actually say no to things in your diary, while upskilling your team! Way you can make it more flexible, just because someone has said, this is what with the plan we think should happen, doesn’t always mean that set in cement.

Start thinking about, “what do I say yes to?”

A great rule of thumb is, if I say yes to something and I get that sinking feeling of how am I going to do it,  I know they are the first things to look at, about how do I say no with an option to those things. Start small and create the habit.

Think about what’s vital. Prioritize and delegate (more to come on delegation soon) and schedule. Remember, you’re either planning to succeed, or you’re planning to fail. And learn to say no. No with an option.

We would love to hear from you which tip helped you most so please reach out to us at Flying Colours Leadership, we hope these tips will help you and your team get the most out of your time!

Don’t forget to book your Time Management Workshop available as a short sharp 2Hr session or the Full Day Workshop that gives your team individual attention to work through your specific needs and areas of concern. Book your session here


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