Busy? Take Control of Your Time!

Tired of Being So Busy? Take Control of Your Time.

How often do you find yourself saying “I’m SO busy”? We have the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. So why can some people take control of their time better than others?

“To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.” – Derek Sivers, Entrepreneur.

It’s true. Life gets pretty overwhelming when your time is controlling you, instead of the other way around. If you’re tired of being forever busy, take control of your time with these tactics:

Understand Where Your Time Goes

Document where all your time actually goes. For one day, write down (or use a free timer like Toggl) to see how much time you spend: checking emails, travelling, sleeping, watching TV, going to the gym, chatting on the phone, checking Facebook, cleaning, eating etc. You might be surprised to learn how much time gets sucked up by “simple” tasks. For example popping out to grab a coffee every afternoon might take much longer than you think (i.e. 20 minutes x 5 days adds up to an hour and forty minutes each week). So making your coffee at work could save you a decent chunk of time. Or if you sit in peak hour traffic each morning, arrange to start earlier/later to spend less time in transit.

To-Do Lists

At the start of each week, jot down everything you need to accomplish. Each morning, write down each item that needs to be done that day (the Bullet Journal approach might work for you). Prioritize the order of importance, and if helpful, add the estimated time you think it will take to do each task so you can plan out your day. It’ll feel so good checking off those items! Or, reach out to me, and I will mail you one of mine!

Calendars

Whether on your wall calendar, planner, diary, or Google calendar; scheduling appointments increases your chances of getting them done. Your mind is also free to focus on the task at hand knowing you don’t have to remember when and where everything else is supposed to happen. (Set notifications to pop up if you need to.)

Schedule Regular Breaks

You know I’m a huge advocate for self care! When we get busy, self care activities are often the first to get axed. But it’s so important to take me-time to improve clarity and focus. When you’re working hard for long periods of time without breaks, your brain becomes less productive. Know that feeling of staring blankly at your computer screen? Or getting up to do something and completely forgetting what it was? It’s a sign to give your brain a break!

Checking Emails and Social Media

These beasts get out of hand FAST! Take control of emails and social media by allocating certain times for checking and responding. Turn off notifications and close browser tabs if you get distracted easily. You could set up a system to reward yourself with ten minutes of social media time each time you complete a major task on your to-do list.

Multitasking

It doesn’t work! Studies show multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40 percent! As NPR Science Correspondent, John Hamilton puts it: “The human brain is designed to do one thing at a time…sequentially. We can kind of fake doing several things at a time. But what we’re doing is putting one thing on hold while we shift our focus to the next thing and then we’re switching back. And every time you switch, there’s a little big of a lag. You lose a little something. It takes a little bit longer to get your brain back to where it was.” Though it may only be a 30 seconds wasted at a time, it adds up. So no more multitasking. Pick one project and focus on it.

Say No

Busy-I-Am-TooIf you’re always agreeing to do things for others and your own work isn’t getting done, say no. Or if you have a dozen things to do today, but two items that aren’t really a priority, cross them off the list. Figure out what’s really important and say no to the things that aren’t.

 

What helps you take control of your time? Add your good habits in the comments below!

 

If you need to take control of more than just your time, email me about my new 12-part Take Control coaching program. This powerful one-on-one program will help you take control of the three key aspects of your life: career, money and relationships. I’ll help you uncover and overcome the hidden obstacles holding you back from living the life you really want.

Season with Salt

When I need some downtime, I pick up my phone and scroll through my Facebook feed. It gives my mind a much needed break, and I can catch up on the latest happenings with my friends at the same time.  Like most of us who use Facebook, I subscribe to various groups for various reasons – parenting tips, Hollywood gossip, and groups that pertain to my companies.

Yesterday, I came across a sternly worded post in a group that started with “Avoid (business name) and (business owners name) at all costs!”  Reading further, I was then privy to nothing short of a rage-filled rant about this person’s experience with the local company, followed by 66 comments with varying degrees of support. Included in the comments were screen shots of emails exchanged between the business owner and the furious client, interspersed with threats of legal action.  By the time I finished reading it, (and yes, I shouldn’t have read it, but it’s the whole driving past a car crash thing…) I had felt as though I was punched in the gut.

Here is a sampling of some of the comments:

“..is the most awful excuse for a business…”

“despicable”

“…sounds like this business should be shut down.”

Sadly, some of these comments are from (soon to be removed) Facebook friends of mine.

Why does this affect me so much you ask?  Well, it’s because, as a local business owner myself, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that me or one of my companies could one day be the target of this type overreactive rage. I’m certain that there is likely some truth to the accusation; that the poster was perhaps in fact “wronged” by the business and is upset.  It happens all the time…because none of us are perfect. I have never met anyone who hasn’t had some sort of negative experience in a local establishment.  Does this warrant a social media rant like this?

What a lot of people don’t necessarily realize in moments like these is that people who own businesses use the income generated from their company to provide for their families, much like employees use their paycheque.  Imagine for a moment that, when you followed a policy or tried to work out a dispute with a client at your job, or made an error, your boss initiated a post on Facebook that started with “Jane is the most useless employee ever. You would not believe what she did today…”

How would you feel?  What would happen after that if 66 people commented with things like “What?! That Jane is just TERRIBLE! She should be fired!”

Regardless of the level and amount of truth in the initial post, you’d likely feel hurt, threatened, defensive, sad, emotional, violated, sick to your stomach.  If social media told you that your livelihood, or an error you made, or anything was “awful” it would suck.

Here are some guidelines (from my vantage point) on how to proceed with disputes with any organization:

1) Do it in private – Facebook, and other various forms of social media, are not appropriate ways to get what you want. Have a conversation, one that you can look back on later and say to yourself “I was really nice to that person, despite feeling upset.” Use peace, grace and kindness as the overriding principles when dealing with local business owners and never, EVER publicize emails or other written communication. At the end of the day, the conflict involves you and the other party, not the rest of your friend list.

2) Be reasonable –  Remember that you might not get your way. A business owner doesn’t “have to” refund your deposit, pay you damages, publicly apologize, or any such lunacy, much as you wouldn’t have to do that sort of thing if you screwed up at your job.  Being a bully as a result is never the right answer.

3) Handle it yourself –  It’s fine to seek advice from others. But dealing with a situation with 66 “backers” means you need to bring the whole rugby team to beat up the school wimp.  It means that you don’t have the strength to fight your own battles.

4) Pick up the phone, or pay a visit in person – So many disputes get escalated in emails and texts. The written word is greatly misunderstood at times, and if we are all being honest, we are MUCH meaner and more courageous behind a keyboard. So pick up the phone. Use email only as a way to schedule an appointment to discuss the situation in person.

5) Talk about you, not about the other person – Phrasing is critical.  I have found that phrases like “I feel that I have been wronged here and I am hoping you might consider refunding my deposit” rather than “You screwed me over! Give me my money back!”

6) Promote the resolution as much as the problem – You know how bad customer service spreads like wildfire? How about a Facebook post that says “Hey everyone! Guess what, (business) and I figured out a reasonable compromise!”

7) Be humble – I have never bought into “the customer is always right” – because it’s not true. Every disagreement or conflict requires at least TWO participants. Which means you, customer, are also somewhat wrong. Own it. You didn’t read the contract? Admit it. You misunderstood something? Say it. It will get you so much farther.

8) Don’t be a jerk – Ever. Seriously. Airing your disputes on Facebook is low, and it sucks. And that makes you suck. So don’t do it.

9) Be productive – Are you really, REALLY going to hire a lawyer over a dispute of $50? No. You aren’t. So don’t say you are going to. Speak the truth and have every interaction take you one step further to the resolution.

10) Season with salt – This was the best advice I had ever received, by way of a message at Grassroots.  It’s derived from Colossians 4:6 which says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” How I interpret this is to always let your words be live giving, instead of life taking. Deep down, is there ever any real satisfaction from “showing them” or “sticking it to the other person?” No.  If we are all honest with ourselves, it makes things worse.

Yesterday, I reached out with some words of encouragement to the fellow business owner.  What I’m hoping is that the rest of the population that reads the post takes everything that is written with a grain of salt (pun intended).

 

 

Entrepremyths

Brent and I own and operate six companies between us, all with their own unique offerings and challenges. No, these are not fortune-500 firms, no, we don’t have 600 staff and yes, we are actively involved with the inner-workings of our “babies.”

Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, and not everyone likes the idea of being an entrepreneur. The beauty of everyone being unique in their own way is that some people were born to be employees. Some were not. I was *definitely* not.

I did have jobs growing up, and I did clock punch, work on commission, and work for tips. I dealt with union bureaucracy, personality conflicts, and unreasonable managers. Each of these situations has shaped me into the entrepreneur I am today – and I am far from perfect at it.

I opened my first business in 1997, and it took me until about three years ago to actually use the phrase “I am an entrepreneur.” By definition (according to the nice folks at businessdictionary.com) I am, in fact, a serial entrepreneur, which is “an entrepreneur who continuously comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses.”

Over the years, I have heard some pretty unreal myths from non-entrepreneurs about their perceptions of entrepreneurs. I present to you, dear reader, the highlights, along with my perspective.

“You’re so lucky!”
Pardon me? Lucky? No. Lucky is winning the lottery. Lucky is finding a parking spot next to the door. Luck happens on casino floors, and in crowded parking lots. “Lucky” is not a term understood fully by entrepreneurs and I strongly suggest you not be in arms reach of a small business owner when you exclaim that phrase.

Entrepreneurs are not lucky. We are relentless. We are hardworking. We are disciplined and we are creative at seeing ways through tricky situations. Luck, my friends, sadly has nothing to do with it.

“You don’t have a boss, so you can do whatever you want at work!”
Partly correct. I don’t have *a* boss. I have about fifty bosses. They are often referred to as “clients” and they have a funny way of asking me to do fifty different things at the same time. And sure, I can do “whatever I want” at work, much in the same way one could have any colour they wanted of the 1909 Model T.

“You get to pick your own hours!”
Yes, I can pick my own hours. I can certainly pick which 14 hours of the day I work, on any given day. I can also decide if I’m going to work Saturday or Sunday or both (but not neither!). Here are things that I don’t pick:

– when the phone rings
– when the client demands a certain deadline be met
– when the client is able to pay (and no, it’s not every two weeks on “payday” in entrepreville.)

Truth be told, I’d almost rather pick one of these, than my own hours.

“You’re rich!”
Ha! No, I am not rich, and yes, I get stressed about money. See, that’s the problem with being a serial entrepreneur. I get one business up, running and profitable, then I start another one. It’s not unlike someone being shocked that they are pregnant and completely appalled like “How could this have happened again?”

“You can take vacation whenever you want, and as much as you want!”
Riiiiiight. Yes, I can certainly assign myself 15 weeks of vacation per year. See, there are two parts to a vacation: the scheduling of the vacation, then the *taking* of the vacation. Anyone can schedule a vacation, but really, it’s the actual taking of the vacation that is the most important part. For employees, a vacation involves figuring out how to set an email “Out of Office” rule and updating the greeting on your voicemail, both of which defer all your responsibilities to another colleague who has taken your responsibilities for you while you are gone.

For an entrepreneur, not so much. See, I liken businesses to babies. When you leave baby to go on vacation, you have to hire someone to take care of it, explain every minute detail about the baby to the caregiver, leave it enough money and food and supplies, draft up a list of phone numbers and ways to reach you, then call to check in on it every two hours while you are gone. That’s not a fantastic way to take a vacation. There certainly isn’t any “let’s disappear for a month without our cell phones” in my immediate future.

“It’s so cool that you have people working for you!”
Yes, it is very cool. I am fortunate to have been blessed with some of the best teammates. What they do for me makes me want to do more for them, every day. However, having employees, as cool as it may be, can be overwhelming and a great responsibility. I am not one of those detached employers, and I get attached easily. This can make things messy and complicated.

So, given all of the above, you might ask “Why are you an entrepreneur?” and my answer is simple. Every day, I wake up to be able to serve and help people. This, and this alone, is the fuel in my tank, the sun in my sky, and the source of my drive. It far outweighs the “negatives” above. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And sometimes, I even get paid for it.

The Hilarity of Spam

Sometimes I sit in wonder at spammers. I like to believe that there are people sitting around trying desperatley to somehow break into my life by sending me the most outrageous of offers, clinging to the hope that I’ll actually be foolish enough to accept. Here are some of the highlights over the last week:

“How you can obtain a fixed second mortgage home equity loan or a home equity line of credit whereby your withdrawing as needed without a fixed amount Additionally, the latter adherents also claim that the utilisation of models during the research process is another way of forgetting the subject and thus renders such researches invalid Find ways to tickle your funny bone with cartoons, jokes, songs, stories, movies or even some good-natured clowning around!”

Or

“In this case, your most excellent choice would subsist to rummage around a cheap transpose telephone lookup service And when it sold out again There are practically 30,000 species of orchids available, all with their very own fantastic characteristics. Then this tobacco is toasted.”

Like really now. Where do I sign up?

Back in Action

I miss blogging! I had one of those “moments” today where I was like “Where *IS* that girl? I miss her!” So, I decided, bring her back.

The last 18 months has been a tough go, but it’s high time I kick my own butt into gear and dive into a major overhaul. I have barely been able to recognize the woman who has run my body over the last year and a half. Enough of that.

Ya, I could have waited until New Year’s and rattled off a whole list of resolutions and “I’m gonna’s” but for what. To watch myself fail on or before January 10, 2013?? No thanks. I’ve done enough failing recently. I have gone through more transformations in this last year that most people endure in a lifetime. New job, new home, new marriage, new family, new friends, new degree, new ME.

Of course, with bits of the old me that we all know and love. Like, the writer me. I’d like to be calmer, think slower, smile more and just…be. And, I’d like to share more. So, I hope you, dear reader, enjoy.

A Keynote Address by Donald Bell

I’m attending the annual Simply Accounting Conference, this year held in Vancouver, BC.  I try to attend every year, despite the fact that I derive absolutely NO useful information from the conference content.  I’ve been using the software for 13 years now….I pretty much have it down pat.  Basically, in order to maintain my elite “Gold Certified Consultant” status, I am required to attend.

The perks:

1) a “business trip” for Sherilyn and I.

2) the keynote speaker

If there’s one thing that Simply does right each year, it’s rope good keynote speakers to present to a room full of bookkeepers. I have been fortunate enough to hear and meet Merge Gupta-Sunderji, Andrew Brash, and David Chilton.  This year, they brought in Donald Bell, co-founder of Westjet.

I couldn’t have been happier.

Those trusty faithful blog followers know my abosulte disdain for Air Canada.  By default, this makes me LOVE Westjet. The fact that I have had SEVERAL positive experiences flying Westjet tips the scales even further.

I have always been slightly curious.  You know that “How DO they make everyone love them so much” fleeting thought.  Well, now I know.

The story of Westjet began under much duress.  Mr. Bell detailed the struggles they had raising capital, raising faith, and writing a business plan they believed in.  He presented the graveyard of airlines that our continent has buried.  He persisted despite being told time and time again that airlines, in general, fail miserably.

Here are some of the “notable” quotes from today’s keynote address that I found interesting and wanted to share:

“Becoming a millionare is easy.  Just become a billionaire first, then buy an airline.”

“We decided when choosing our employes that we didn’t want to hire anyone that worked at Air Canada or Revenue Canada” ** – note, bookkeepers and accountants find this on particularly funny.

Top 10 rules:

1) Find a model and copy it

2) First get the business plan, then get the money

3) Treat employees as #1

4) Share the wealth

5) Hire for attitude, train for skills

6) Empower the front lines

7) Embrace technology

8) Keep it simple

9) Fly union free

10) Party party party

This is starting to sound alot like….well….me!!!

EEEKK! Without even knowing it, I have the SAME BUSINESS MODEL as Westjet!! That’s right, WESTJET. The household name who’s brand identity rivals Tim Hortons, and who’s growth and profits have put banks and gold mines to shame.

I couldn’t be happier.  Those of you who know me will be most happy to learn that I did “not* run up to him like a 14 year old at a Taylor Swift concert shreiking “omg we are EXACTLY the same!”

🙂 I feel empowered and motivated. Stand back.