Friday, 17 December 2010

How to create more time in your day

Question: I have loads of plans for my business, but I never seem to have any time available to complete them. How would I go about getting more time in my business?

If you want to make good use of your time,

you’ve got to know what’s most important

and then give it all you’ve got.

Lee Iacocca

Answer: Great question! Excellent time management is something that is absolutely critical for everybody, but particularly if you run your own business. A good place to start with your time management is by being really clear on how you are spending your time. Carefully monitor exactly how you spend your time over the period of a week. Prepare a page for each day of the week, with 30 minute time slots on it, and then fill in your tasks as you go, we all under-estimate how long things will take us, which results in other things, which may be really important, not being done at all. You may be quite shocked at how much time you lose by answering non-urgent e-mails or allowing phone calls to go on for longer than necessary – it all mounts up. By doing this, you will notice, which things you spend too long over and also what you are doing which can either be delegated or are not required to be done at all.

Once you fully understand how you are spending your time, you need to ask yourself the following questions for each of those tasks:

1. What would be the impact on clients if the task isn’t completed today?
2. What would be the financial impact on the company if the task isn’t completed today?

3. Where there are deadlines, which ones can be put back until another day?
4. What are the causes and effects of completing (or not completed) a specific task day?

By answering those questions honestly, you can then further separate out the tasks which must be completed immediately, and if you have a number of those tasks, how do you prioritise them?
Well, I give each task a letter, for example:

A = Top priority jobs – those which must be completed today
B = Jobs that should be completed today
C = Jobs that you’d prefer to complete today but can be put off until tomorrow
D = Jobs where the deadline is some way off and you can complete later.

There are aspects of all jobs which we prefer to others that we need to accomplish. Then we procrastinate over the things we dislike doing the most by putting it off, although the thought of having to do it often hangs over us. Endeavour to get the things you dislike doing completed as early in the day as you can, this will give you a great sense of satisfaction and will allow you to continue through the day ‘on a high’.

By using the above techniques you should easily be able to save yourself at least 30 minutes per day, which adds up to 2.5 hours per week, more than enough time to get going on the plans you have for your business.

If you feel that it would be easier for you to get control of your time management if you were working with somebody then please just get in touch with me at Nicholl Consultancy and I would love to get you started.

Finally, have a fabulous Christmas and a successful 2011 - bye for now!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

How to get organised

This is another question some of my clients have asked that I thought I would share:

Question: I’m struggling to get organised I know that being organised will help me develop my business, but I’m not sure where to start. Please help!

Organising is what you do before you do something,
so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up
- A A Milne

Answer: I can relate very closely to this question, because unless my office is well organised I cannot be productive. In fact, I will find all sorts of excuses to avoid going into it – which is not helpful when you are self-employed!

The best thing to do is to set some time aside and commit to getting started. The longer you put it off, the more disorganised you get. Even if you can only spare an hour a day, then by the end of the week, you will be 5 hours more organised!

Start on one side of your office and decide how far you are going to move around the room before the time you have set aside runs out, then start sorting, have the shredder ready for anything that is no longer required and lots of bin bags. I am a great believer in ‘divide and conquer’ and what I mean by that is separate things into organised groups not one big heap!

Sort your paperwork into categories eg: Useful articles, marketing information, invoices, outgoing expenditure receipts, clients/customers etc. and remember your office will look worse before it starts to look better!

Once you have cleared out the space that you have allocated for that day, then start to re-examine the piles of paperwork and see if there is any duplication and be ruthless, then do some more shredding – I like that bit!

I find box files really useful, you can label them clearly and they look nice on shelves or in bookcases and the information in them is easy to access. So make sure when you start your organising that you have lots of box files to hand.

Now put the paperwork that you have sorted into appropriate groupings, into the relevant box files and put them away on shelves, I like to put them away alphabetically, so you know that your Accounts files will be stored before your client/customer information.

Keep repeating this exercise until you have worked your way around your office. By doing it in a methodical way, you will easily be able to see your progress. Also you will have examined every piece of paper in your office and will be reassured that there is nothing overlooked that might have the ability to come back and bite you because you have forgotten about it!

Another useful habit to get into, is to allocate the last 15 minutes of your working day, into putting everything away that you have used – this is called the “clear desk policy’ and then make a ‘To Do’ list for the next day. That way your office will always be tidy to return to and you won’t have to avoid it because it is messy.

Remember the 7 Step methodologies for organisation:

1. Sorting – eliminate all unnecessary paperwork.

2. Straightening or setting in order – There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place.

3. Sweeping or Shining – Keep the workplace tidy and organised.

4. Standardising – work practices should be consistent and standardised.

5. Sustaining the discipline – maintain and review standards regularly

6. Safety – make sure your workplace is a safe place to be.

7. Security – protect yourself both electronically and personally against risks to your key business categories.

If the thought of getting started is too hard for you, then contact me at and I will make it easier.

Until next time - get shredding!

Friday, 3 December 2010

How to stay motivated when working on a Project

I was recently asked this question by a client and thought if they were struggling with it, then maybe it would make a good blog article, let me know if you find it helpful.

Question: I always seem to start on a project but then when it gets hard, I don’t have the motivation to complete it. How can I keep motivated on completing my projects?

Great things are not done by impulse,
but by a series of small things brought together
- Vincent Van Gogh

Suggestion: If the project is exciting and it stimulates you, then yes, it is easy to get started. However, once you hit the first problem, it all gets a bit daunting and not so exciting and it is easy to find lots of reasons (excuses!) to put off going back to it, because you feel that you need a huge chunk of free time to focus on the problem properly and you never seem to have that amount of free time.

The key here is to break your project down into much smaller steps that will gently lead you onto the next step and if you hit a problem, then break that down into small chunks, make that difficult phone call or do that piece of research, and also don’t forget to reward yourself each time you have moved your project further forward. Even something quite small, like a nice cappuccino coffee can be just the incentive we need to crack on for another twenty minutes, that could take you past the problem that was stopping you and move you towards the next step.

In the past when I have been struggling to complete something, I have chunked it down quite significantly and challenged myself to spend at least one hour per day on it (or however long you can allocate to it) and not allow myself any excuses and by doing that and getting started, I often find that I get engrossed in what I am achieving and carry on for longer. That way you complete your project much faster and stay motivated because you can see results, and the cappuccino coffee maker gets well used!

If you are struggling with something and would find it helpful to be challenged by somebody who has your success at the very core of their business then please get in touch with me at Nicholl Consultancy

Until next time -have a successful week!