With summer approaching it is important to organize the way you work so you can take some time to enjoy the benefits of your labor! Have quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals prepared so that you can stay on track and not get distracted by fast-moving events and the constant stream of interruptions. Everything you do should be focused on achieving your goals, with a minimum of distraction. Review these goals frequently to see how you are doing. It is important to schedule your daily work by making a list of action items to be done the next day. Check the items off as they are done or move them forward to the next day until they are completed.
Keeping track of actions taken toward reaching your goals is critical to managing your time and “Write It Down!” should become your mantra. Keep a journal or log so that you can go back and review past actions and ensure that you are indeed delivering on what you have promised. Simple notebooks or other manual methods still work fine, or you can use any one of a number of software packages available to track and log actions. Meeting goals is satisfying and rewarding. Make planning fun by checking off the tasks as you complete them. It is nice to see what you have accomplished and know what still needs to be done.
Disciplining yourself to respond to emails at specific times during the day is a useful method of managing your time. Avoiding the temptation to immediately answer all queries will keep you from being controlled by the email traffic rather than controlling it. Most incoming messages do not require an immediate response and a quick inspection will let you prioritize them and determine when you need to reply. If not critical, process them at a set time during the day. You will be amazed at the increase in your productivity by managing this simple task and not getting side-tracked!
Your clients will also have time-specific goals. Ask them what you can help them with now to ease their stress and to better serve them. Your clients will appreciate and value your attention to their needs. Looking forward to what projects they may have coming up in the future will help you chart your best course and help you focus your actions in the most cost-effective manner. Keep in close touch with your clients and regularly ask them on how you can help them with their goals. Their goals become your goals.
As summer approaches, have a backup plan for when you need to take a few days off. Let everyone know so when an emergency comes up they know who to contact. Partner with a back-office provider who can give you assurance that problems will be addressed as they arise and everyone working will get paid on time, even when you are taking a little time off.
Summer is waiting.