When you arrive at work each day, how do you spend that first hour? If you spend it answering e-mails and going through voice mails, your business is running you.
This creates a mindset that sets the tone for the day. When you’re out on a project or meeting with a customer, are you focusing on what you’re doing? If you constantly let yourself be interrupted by answering your ringing phone or reading / responding to incoming text messages, your business is running you.
If your business is running you, this means you’re not running your business. You’re not determining what’s important and what takes priority. You’re in reaction mode. This can leave you with little, if any, time for assessing, thinking, and planning.
Get things off to a good start. When you arrive at work each day, what about those e-mails and voice messages? Some of those may be important. But this doesn’t mean you have to start your day answering them all.
Quickly empty your e-mail inbox by moving all non-urgent e-mails to a “To Do” folder (which you already set up in your e-mail system). This should take only a few minutes, and when you’re done you may find there’s nothing urgent. You can answer these later, at a time you schedule. Schedule return calls, also; you can reach most people between 9:00 and 10:00 their time, eliminating phone tag.
So now with e-mail out of the way, and while the phone isn’t ringing and you’re not occupied with the crisis of the moment, work on important things. Or just use this time to think; try to come up with a new way to earn revenue or to improve existing processes.
If you haven’t had this quiet time before, first use it to free up time. Look at the day’s schedule. You do have a schedule, don’t you? Years ago, well-organized people carried around paper Day Planners. Some people still use these paper tools, but today you can use electronic versions such as Microsoft Outlook or cloud-based schedulers. Use a scheduling system to manage your time, else your time will manage you.
Many people have daily meetings in their schedule. This is good if it’s a safety meeting, but for most other purposes a daily meeting is a time vampire. Does anything important actually result from this daily meeting? If not, stop holding that meeting. This may free up an hour that you can use to more effectively run your business. Or better yet, meet with a valued customer to discuss new opportunities.