“The Search for a New Years Resolution that Works”
Over the Christmas period I spoke to no less than thirty-seven small business owners who are doing really well.
I asked them how come they were successful?
My thinking was that what ever did it for them could be shaped into a resolution that would do the same for us all.
So what was this gem of wisdom those who had become succewssful without spending 24/7 working at it.
As you can imagine there were quite a range of answers.
These depended upon where they and their businesses were at the time and where they wanted to be in the near future.
The one thing that came up every time was personal organisation.
That ability to set targets and goals and make the necessary steps to achieve them.
Simply -to manage time effectively.
Now I have been as guilty as anyone of not getting my act together in the past. And I still have to give myself a kick to get organised.
So I apologies for asking you a question straight out, with no warning.
The question is:
Where are your plans, including medium and short-term goals and targets, for the next year?
And how are you going to manage your time to achieve them?
At this point fluffing around should be banned,
“are they written down and do you have a cunning plan to work to.”
I trust that you, like me, can proudly say yes.
We all need it.
You Are Not Alone
There is a man, a clever man. In fact and American Doctor called Dr Donald Wetmore who carried out a lot of research to produce some interesting stat’s. (check them out here http://www.balancetime.com/articles/tm_facts_and_figures.htm)
I love stats.
As anyone who reads my posts will already know.
They are reassuring, only in that they prove “we are not alone”
We share our shortcomings.
Here are just a few of his results:
- The average person uses 13 different methods to control and manage their time ( and probably some to manage the time managers)
- 50% of the working day is spent on low value interruptions
- 95% of self-improvement books are purchased by 5% of the population.
- 95% of self-improvement books are not used.
- 20% of the working day is spent on crucial things 80% on trivia. Add to this time spent looking for lost items and misplaced files.
And so it’s no surprise that we have “no time” to grow and develop our businesses.
If we are only partly as bad as the good Doctors findings, we still have the time to do everything we need to.
All we have to do is control it.
Avoiding the Two Major Sins
Ok so I assume that you’re with me in wanting to improve this situation.
From my past experience I find the two main causes are:
1. Not making the best use of our time either because we don’t know how to, or because we “just can’t be arsed”
2. We’re busy looking for new miracle cures whilst not doing the things that we already know that we should.
Time is a costly commodity and your time is priceless.
I do know a fair amount about Time Management but I’m no expert.
I have to say that I’m getting better by the day largely due to my friend and time management expert Tor Refsland the Time Management Chef
But it hasn’t always been this way.
My Personal Confession
Let me tell you a short story. It took place about three years before I started my own Business which was in 1998:
I don’t know how you would feel
But I was so excited when I was offered the job of Sales Director at a company that I had been with for only three years.
I was employed as Regional Sales Manager, but a director, this was something else.
I thumbed through the offer letter, making special note of the start date.
Only three weeks away.
More money, more responsibility and more status (not that it mattered- ha ha)
At the bottom it said “ you will be expected to complete a three-day Time Management Course prior to commencing your new position”.
“Oh they think so do they” was my response and I wrote a polite email reply.
In it I pointed out that I had been on four such courses before joining them and one at the start of my time as Sales Manager.
For this reason I saw no point in doing yet another.
The response from head office was short and to the point “the course is non negotiable and will take place on the following dates……..” . That was that.
Nobody Likes a Smart Arse
I turned up.
Sharing the experience with me were a dozen or so people from different companies with one thing in common.
This was their first Time Management Course.
It followed the usual pattern of business courses a bit of instruction, and then the lady giving the course would ask a question.
This was thrown open to anyone who wanted to answer.
I decided to stay silent as I had the benefit of having done it all five times before.
But no one else answered either.
So I had to pitch in and answer the first question, then the second and the third.
No matter how I tried I was, for the most part, alone in volunteering.
So I stopped.
And I sat.
No one spoke.
My lips were sealed.
After all it was like taking an exam when you’ve got all the answers.
So we all waited.
Then the instructor turned to me and said “ ok then Brian, what’s the answer”
And that was how it went, pretty much for the two and a half days.
When no one else “put their hand up” good old Brian (that’s me) was called upon.
Post Match Analysis
When the course was over, which was a lunch time; refreshments were provided before we all set off on our individual homeward journeys
Everyone was milling around and mixing randomly until I found myself talking to the young woman who had given the course.
And a great job she’d done as well.
After a bit of chat she asked me how come I appeared to know all the answers I explained that although the course was different I had already done five others.
“five” she said with surprise, “ why are you on this one”?
So I explained.
She found it hard to believe. After all five “previous” is quite a record.
“You must be really organised and managing your time efficiently by now” she commented.
“Oh no, I don’t actually do any of it “ I heard myself answer.
A long silence.
“Why on earth not”? she eventually managed to ask.
For once I had no answer.
I just sort of couldn’t be bothered.
I did it my way (queue for song)
The pause dragged on until she said
“ but so much training and time and effort”
“ wouldn’t it be useful to you”?
Well to cut a long story short, it set me thinking.
If people had invested this time and money in me, then why wasn’t I using it.
I still don’t have the answer.
More fool me.
But the story doesn’t end there. I started using it.
As soon as I got back.
I dug out all my notes.
I dug out not only all my time management course notes but also all the other courses that I had attended over many years.
And I started using the techniques and systems that they contained.
Especially the time management that I had just done ( again).
It worked well, I was getting more done than ever and I found an interesting side effect.
I had often had trouble sleeping.
I would wake up at 3.00 am and start thinking about what I had and hadn’t done.
Once I started managing my time it stopped.
What I had to do was written down.
I knew I had time to do it and exactly when that time was.
I slept like a baby.
When, three years later I started my own business (now established for 16 years) I really began to find out what the benefits were.
It was invaluable.
Without time management and planning we all lurch from one situation to another. Often doing the least significant things first and piling effort into the trivial.
My only regret is that I learned my lesson a bit late, but not too late.
The sooner we all make the fullest use of every skill, training experience and piece of knowledge that we have the sooner we will get the results that we crave.
Now when I take a course of training or even read a book I am looking for the points that I can put into action.
Without one or more of these points the course, book, video or whatever is a waste of time.
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s what we do, not what we know that counts in business.
Action is the thing that makes things happen.
That is unless you want to wait and see if you can be another smart-arse attending the same course for the fifth time.
But I wouldn’t wait for that to happen. It’s no big thrill.
My Small Business New Year Resolution
So what is the great New Year Resolution:
If you have knowledge or training – Use it ( like your pants are on fire! )
If you don’t have it or you want to improve it – Seek advice.
And don’t forget as I mentioned earlier – if it’s time management you need, visit Tor at Time Management Chef to pick up some great ideas and hacks, plus a free e-book and lots of great advice.