Identifying Time Management Issues and How to Fix Them

Do you Have a Time Management Issue?

You cannot manage time itself, but you can manage yourself and how you choose to use your time. These days we are under more time pressure than ever, and those little gadgets we use to make our lives easier may actually make our lives much harder.

Improving Time Management

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. You cannot buy more time. No matter how many people you know, they cannot give you more time. So the most important question you can ask daily is: “How can my team use time more wisely?”
One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide and learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should go in the future. One person in your group losing focus on congruent goals can impact everyone’s time, and even create a huge barrier for success.
Too often people search in the wrong places when trying to find out why they are not achieving their goals. They think there is something wrong with their time management program, so they buy a new one. They create long lists, and they eliminate certain things, only to find that they had no realistic effect on the organization. The real problem is not the process they currently use to manage or use time. Rather, it is the habit of thoughts or attitudes they use to decide how they will use their time.

How Belief Systems Influence Behavior

Belief systems lead to actions that cause results, which then impact your time management. If you or your people behave in counterproductive ways, try to identify the belief systems that cause that behavior. For example, let’s say you decide to exercise 3 days a week to improve your health. However, your primary belief system is that exercise is boring and painful. What do you think the chances are that you’ll exercise three days a week?
A common issue I hear from CEOs is that they spend little or no time on their strategic priorities. Instead, they spend their days putting out fires and dealing with their employee issues. They usually insist that this is just part of business as usual. However, a closer examination teaches us that there are people who like to put out fires and enjoy the immediate gratification of handling the daily emergencies, want to be the ones with all the answers, and have trouble telling others “No.” These habits directly impact their ability to effectively manage their time.
We seek immediate gratification in our society. The benefit of better health is a long-term goal. In the short term, a person avoids the pain of sore muscles and the loss of self-esteem that goes along with confirming one’s own bad physical shape by not going to the gym. In other words, they feel better about not going to the gym than they do about going. This is immediate gratification, even though the decision is a bad one for achieving long-term goals.

Identify Gratification Received From Bad Behavior

In order to change behavior, you must identify the immediate gratification you get from your bad behavior and the thought patterns that cause you to continue to practice it. Once identified, it is then necessary to find something more motivating to replace them. For example, many people would start to exercise if their doctor told them, “If you do not start to exercise tomorrow, you’ll have only six months to live, and if you do exercise, you will live another 25 years.” That is quite a carrot to dangle.

Tracking Time Spent

Most people do not have a good sense of where their time goes. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where they spend it. Once you have a solid understanding of how you spend your time, you can then try to increase the amount of time you control, or productively use your time by delegating activities to others, eliminating waste, and reallocating time to make it more productive.
Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

7 Keys to Working Smarter and Being Highly Successful

 

After observing thousands of leaders in companies from startups to over $20B in revenue and helping create over $1 Billion in business value, I noticed one superpower in highly successful people. They worked smarter, not harder, and derive much higher results in less time than almost everyone else. These very successful leaders tended to value highly the Management Strategies and Learnings obtained through Business and Executive coaching channels.

For clarity, I deem someone to be successful if they can accomplish three times more than their peers,  have more joy and happiness, and do all of this in less time.  Now, I have to draw a line as many of us are highly ambitious, driven, and are classic workaholics. Most workaholics do not commit to reducing the hours they work and find work exhilarating. Regardless of your view, it would help if you wanted to achieve three times the results and earnings in less time. What you do with the extra time is your business.  But everyone should want to work smarter and not harder.

I am often exposed to CEOs in the same industry and have always been amazed at how varied leader’s approaches are.  To me, the right approach is the one that produces three times the results with a similar effort.  Let’s take the restoration industry.  I have met many CEOs who started their business 20 years before and are stuck at $5M in revenue or less. Also, I have met others that were in the industry for just a few years and had revenue over $5M.   I do not only find revenue disparity. I also find profit and time gaps.  While the average company earns a net profit of 5% of revenue, we have helped companies generate over 20%.  Would you rather be a $10M company that produces $500K of net profit or a $5 Million company that produces $1M in net profit?  That was a trick because you should want to be the $10 Million company generating $2 Million profit, expecting the growth and the profits.

The most successful CEOs build far larger companies, have higher growth rates, have more free time, and have 3x the net profit margin. And, yes, there are other measures of success. I want you to consider that working more hours than everyone else, regardless of what you earn, is a fool’s choice! All I want to do is challenge us to work smarter continually.

Which leads us to the big question: “How can we make it easier to achieve our success goals faster?”  How can a person make far more, achieve their intended impact, and work a lot less? Not only is this possible, but others are already doing it. After watching these leaders, I noticed they were not necessarily smarter, more creative, lack ethics, or privileged.  I have met many highly successful people, some ultra-wealthy, and found that they were formerly homeless, living in trailer parks, had no college degrees, and so on. I am sure all of us are capable of high levels of success.

Achieving success is simpler than you think but not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.  The strange part is that we are familiar with the concepts but not living them. Here are the principles you must follow to work smarter and not harder:

(1) Manage Your Thoughts

(2) Have a  Strategy

(3) Be Strategic

(4) Work a Plan

(5) Be Disciplined

(6) Resilience Rituals

(7) Build Wealth

Manage Your Thoughts

There are three dimensions to managing our thoughts: awareness, intention, and perseverance. Our mind is a potent tool. How you think will change your outcomes for better or worse. Thus you need to be aware of what you are thinking. For example, if you make up your mind that someone cannot do their job, your words and actions will differ from those based on the premise they are capable of. Your thoughts need to be congruent with your intentions. If you intend on accomplishing something and focus your thoughts on contrary purposes, you will fail. Imagine you plan to have a good day but your spend most of your day angry about something. 

Once our thoughts and intentions are in unity, we need to have perseverance. When was the last time you set out for something new and challenging, and it worked out exactly as planned? Most often, we find we run into unforeseen difficulties and roadblocks.  If you allow your mind to waiver from the finish line, you may not get there in a practical manner.

Have a Strategy

Too often, I find driven people are in constant motion. They confuse activity with productivity. When they see a problem to solve, they are off to the races.  Often leaders are solving the wrong problems or not taking the best route to solve their problems.  By doing so, you may feel better in the short term, but it could have long-term negative consequences.

I recently witnessed a senior leader get angry with a subordinate because he felt they were taking advantage of the company.  He immediately launched into attack mode and let the employee know how he felt.  While the concern was merited and the employee course-corrected, there were longer-term consequences.  You see, the leader was so busy being right that he lost one of the highest-performing people in the industry. That employee decided to quit his boss.

In the end, the leader was not strategic.  Had he been, he would have waited until he wasn’t angry and would have developed a strategy to course-correct the employee in a manner that was okay for both parties involved. Instead, he may need two people to do the work the one accomplished, and his reputation may cause other competent people not to want to work for him.

While I used a personal situation, the same goes for taking on projects, lofty goals, and conquering the competition. One thing we have all learned is that there are many ways to accomplish an objective. Being strategic requires you to consider achieving the ideal outcomes, choosing what “not” to do, using the least amount of resources, and within the desired time frame. It is usually best to consider expanding your options before choosing a path.

Work A Plan

We are working on a plan ties to being strategic.  However, the critical difference is that the strategy is the vision of where you want to go, and the action plan charts your course from beginning to end—many of us are big picture people. We can see what is possible and have a “can-do” attitude.  The problem with visionaries is they believe everything is simple and underestimate what it takes to achieve the outcome.  Taking the ball down the field is usually someone else’s problem.  To achieve grand visions, I recommend the following project management techniques:

(1) Be specific – The objective has to be clearly stated so that anyone could step in and know what needs to be done.

(2) Make it Measurable – Identify the measurable milestones and deadlines that indicate you are on track.

(3) Action Steps – Identify the action steps necessary to achieve each milestone.

(4) Monitor Progress – There must be processes and systems in place to monitor progress.

(5) Course Correct – When progress is insufficient, it is essential to revisit your plan to get back on track.

Be Disciplined

Whether you are working on getting healthy, achieving your sales goals, accomplishing a major project, it takes disciplined action.  Too often, we like the idea of the outcome but are not disciplined enough to achieve it. Think about dieting. If I eat healthily and eat the right amount of calories for three days a week but overeat unhealthy foods the other 4, it will take a lot longer (if ever) to lose the weight. Where if you ate properly every day, that takes discipline.

My brother Matt is the President of Steven Douglas, one of the fastest-growing recruiting and staffing agencies in the US.  Matt has been a top producer every year since he entered the industry almost 20 years ago.  Most people in his industry only dream of producing his revenue production.  Matt shared with me that he has hundreds of employees, and none of them produce as much as he does. Given that he is President, he spends far less time than full-time salespeople. This caused me to ask his secret. Matt has a list of 300 key contacts he calls every sixty days.  He does this by setting aside one hour daily for outbound calls.  This single disciplined activity has helped him achieve more in 5 hours a week than others can produce in 60 hours.  Successful people are willing to commit to such discipline. I have shared this technique with at least 100 people over the years, and none has had the discipline to implement it.

Resilience Rituals

The airlines taught us a very important less when they told us that we must put our oxygen masks on first before helping others. I have found that highly successful people have a regimen of activities that they use to recharge themselves.  Here are my resilience rituals:

 – 1/2 hour of daily exercise

 – 15 Minute breaks between meetings

 – 15-30 of Meditation

 – 15 Minutes of Quiet reflection

 – Spending time with friends and family

 – Take 4-6 weeks off on vacation throughout the year.

 – Monitor and control my work hours

 – Weekly Massage

It would be best to have the same level of committed discipline to your resilience rituals as your business routines.  For example, if you work out 4 hours in one day, it will not have the same effect as 1/2 hour per day.

Build Wealth

Too many of us are so busy working that we don’t spend the right amount determining how to build wealth. Every very wealthy person I met has at least three streams of significant income.  It is essential that you identify, develop, and give enough attention to your various income streams.  Most people will tell you that the most significant part of wealth came from income streams outside of their day job.  The day gave them the financial start in investing in other activities. Still, many of those activities require learning about and developing strategies and plans to develop each stream. 

In Conclusion

While you can be highly successful without practicing the above activities, it does not invalidate them.  However, by managing your thoughts, being strategic, working a plan, being disciplined, practicing resilience rituals, and building wealth consistently, you will find your path to success with less friction.  Now I challenge you to determine how to use these principles to work smarter and not harder, so you have more time to do the things that are most important to you.

 


 
Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, please visit his website at Activate Group Inc or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

 

Meeting Length vs Effectiveness: Effective Meetings Require Time

Meeting Length vs Effectiveness

Meeting length vs Effectiveness has a huge impact on how you should engage within your organization. Do you find that your organization faces the same problems and challenges year after year, with no resolution? Do you discuss the same issues concerns, people, and customers month after month? Do you find that right when you are getting to the heart of the matter in the middle of an important debate or topic, your meeting is over and you have to postpone for a later date? Do you create goals and plans that do not come to fruition?

These are typical results when you do not spend enough time meeting with your leadership team.

Cons of Not Setting Aside Time for Effective Meetings

Have you considered the amount of time, productivity, and growth you have lost by not setting aside enough time to properly make decisions, to debate and resolve issues, to align priorities and to hold leaders accountable? By avoiding meetings, critical decisions do not get made or are made poorly.

Failure to debate priorities and work through issues can bring organizations to a standstill while leaders wait until the next meeting or for a final decision, allowing your competition the opportunity to thrust forward. While it is counterintuitive to most leaders, spending more time in meetings could actually double or triple company productivity.

Optimal Meeting Lengths

The key to an effective meeting is a commitment to setting aside enough time. Assuming you know how to run an effective meeting (and experience says you probably need help), the executive team should be allocating the following time blocks to work on the business, to debate issues focused on strategy, accountability, setting priorities, new opportunities, evaluating your people, challenging the business model, etc.:

Daily Meeting Length:

10-Minutes a Day for a Huddle with Your Direct Team

Weekly Meeting Length 

1 Hour per Week

Monthly Meeting Length 

1 Full Day

Quarterly Meeting Length 

2 Full Days (1 Day is Strategic)

Failure to have these meetings and to focus on the right topics robs you of significant growth and profits. Contact Activate Group Inc. for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 305-722-7213 to see how a business coach can help you run a more effective organization.

Learn more about effective meetings:

  • Effective Meetings Start On-Time
  • Effective Meetings Focus on Decisions
  • Effective Meetings Require a Purpose
  • Effective Meetings Have Conflict

Setting Deadlines for Your Team

Setting deadlines is the most painful and underappreciated part of delegating a task. Too many leaders give employees tasks without setting a deadline or asking what else they have on their “to do” list. This is a motivation killer. You must keep in mind that even though the task you are assigning is of great importance, your employees have their tasks too.

Do You Ever Say No?

Most people are trained to never say “no.” They have been wired to say “yes,” even when they know they already have too much on their plate. Often times, the delegator already knows this, but chooses to take the position of “not my problem.” In the long run, this can destroy trust and respect for the delegator and decrease employee morale, organizational productivity, and profitability.

How to Properly Delegate

When you delegate a task, you must sit with the person you are delegating to and make sure that realistic deadlines are being created. It is your job as the delegator to help your people be successful and not set them up for failure. If you are delegating to someone who has a history of over-committing, it is important to help reconcile commitments to make sure that the most important things get done first. Always make it clear that you are aware they have other tasks so want to make sure they are available to meet your deadline. Also always make sure the deadline is a realistic one. After all, when your employees succeed you succeed!

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

Effective Meetings Focus On Decisions

Does your team look forward to each and every meeting? Do your meetings effectively drive your business? Or are your meetings really status updates, rehashing the same issues over and over again, full of too many agenda items, and never seem to accomplish much? When most leaders are honest, they tell me their meetings really need improvement. Often I see unrealistic agendas and too little time set aside to discuss anything in depth. In my experience, less is more, and more is less! What I mean by this is that you probably need to have more of the right meetings and in those meetings talk less about the wrong agenda items.

Do You Conduct and/or Attend Too Many Bad Meetings?

As pointed out in Pat Lencioni’s book Death By Meeting, most people conduct/attend too many bad meetings. Is it your habit or preference to meet people one-on-one to get their ideas on major issues? Experience shows this to be very ineffective because you wind up discussing the same issue without really creating the right debate, fluidity, and speed appropriate to the matter. When you do meet in a group, do you find that the agenda is packed with so many items that it is hard to get deep in to discussing, debating, and really addressing your critical issues? What percentage of your meetings consists of status updates and presentations by various people versus constructive and vigorous debate that involves everyone in the room and thrusts the business forward to higher levels? Is it possible that you have run poor meetings for such a long period of time that you are actually just wasting a lot of leadership time?

Scheduling Frequent Meetings Helps An Organization Become More Effective

Highly effective organizations have learned to schedule a good series of daily huddles and weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings that can be carefully designed to get all of the right people together at the same time. Each meeting is assigned a purpose, which is built around specific decisions that need to be made. The agenda is then constructed to facilitate making those decisions and encourages the dialog necessary to reach those decisions. The outcomes of these meetings then become policies and actions that need to be taken as a result of those decisions.

 

Failure to conduct and lead effective meetings is robbing you of significant growth and profits. Contact Activate Group Inc. for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how a business coach can help you run a more effective organization.

 

Time is More Valuable than Money

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. No matter how rich you are, you cannot buy more time. No matter how many people you know, they cannot give you more time.  So the most important question you can ask daily is, “How can I and everyone on the team use time more wisely?”

One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide and learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should go.  If one person in your group does not focus on congruent goals it can cause everyone’s time to be misused.  If many people are not using their time wisely it can be a huge barrier to your potential.

I find the most effective executives are very intentional and disciplined about the use of time and have a well-structured set of policies, systems and procedures for keeping their teams aligned and focused on the right sets of activities. You have most likely found that people can spend a whole  day’s worth of time trying to figure out why someone assigned a task that could be completed by the right person in 20 minutes has spent 3 weeks on it and is not yet finished.

The following are some opportunities so achieve better use of time:

  • Clarifying the specific expectations from each person’s role in terms of project, position, department, process, and organization
  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the organization and directing efforts toward utilizing each person’s strength
  • Identifying and narrowing focus around the fewest goals and priorities possible
  • Planning and preparing for obstacles
  • Understanding who is going to do what and when
  • Identifying, measuring and managing around the proper leading key performance indicators toward achieving short and longer goals
  • Knowing and making sure that progress is made on the most important priority daily
  • Developing and implementing an effective meeting and communication regimen throughout the organization.

We have found that the concepts from Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 – Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish, can provide a simple and effective means for capitalizing on the above opportunities.  The tools and process identified in this book along with the assistance of a certified Gazelles coach in helping you make the right decisions around strategy, people, process and cash can help you better execute your decisions through the disciplines of priorities, data/metrics, and meeting rhythms.

As a Certified Gazelles and executive leadership coach and founder of Activate Group Inc., based in Miami, Florida, Howard Shore can help you and your leadership team to become more effective. To learn more about the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, please visit contact Howard at 305.722.7213 or email him at shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Simple Ways to Increase Productivity

These days, time is the ultimate luxury. We executive leaders easily fall into the trap of living on our gadgets in an effort to streamline our lives and buy more time. We try so hard to make our lives easier, but sometimes we end up just living our lives faster.

If you want to buy back some real time, instead of losing yourself in it, follow my five simple steps to a more productive professional life:

  1. Unplug. It’s not easy to gain the right perspective if we spend most of our day in the middle of an information stream. Take an hour or two and cut off the info overload. Tell everyone that you are unavailable, shut off all your gadgets, go somewhere private, and take some time to think about what is important and what is not. What are your goals? Where are you going? What will it take to get there?
  2. Prioritize. Once you have your head cleared, you need to figure out your priorities. Ask yourself this question: What task can I do that will get me the most return on my time investment? Think about the project that will make the biggest impact on your business.  Make a list of these types of tasks and establish them as your top priorities. If you have a list of things to do everyday, and one or two of them are truly essential, do those items first thing in the morning.
  3. Delegate. Look at your list and identify what is not essential. Which items can you drop or delegate to someone else? Then, as you focus on your essential tasks, check back on that list periodically. You may realize that the less essential tasks are really unnecessary ones.
  4. Simplify. Do not rely on a bunch of gadgets, or the latest and coolest applications to manage your time. A simple notebook and a simple to-do list can work wonders. Forget about the tools and think only of the tasks at hand. If you are too focused on the tools, you may not actually be getting anything done!
  5. Focus. Most of the time multi-tasking is a waste of time. You cannot get things done when you have 10 other things vying for your attention. Focus on the essential task in front of you, to the exclusion of all else, and you are much more likely to get it completed, in less time, with less effort.

Streamlining your professional life is easier than you think. Don’t be afraid to cut the “fat” from your schedule and be ruthless about it. In everyone’s schedule there are unnecessary things sucking up time. Get rid of them and take your time back!

What time suckers have you found in your schedule?

Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach and founder of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to executive leadership. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through AGI, please visit activategroupinc.com, contact Howard at (305) 722-7216 or email him.