How many times has someone said this to you? "I'm sorry - I was too busy to get around to it". How does that make you feel? If the answer is frustrated, you're not alone! Here are 5 tips on how to be more assertive with your time, as well as more efficient with your own time.
1. Set realistic goals
Let's face it - nobody likes a deadline, but as a business owner your staff look up to you, even need you to help them manage their priorities from time to time. There is a reason they chose you as a leader - not just because of the paycheck, but because they trust you to lead them through the rough terrain. Take care not to fall into the trap of micro-managing! Instead, the key is to set realistic goals that align with the business and then allow your people the flexibility to work within using their own style.
Likewise, when it comes to managing your own time, make sure you set realistic goals for yourself. You aren't going to climb Mount Everest without a lot of training and conditioning, and you aren't going to make a million dollars overnight contrary to what many news and blog articles tell us. Remember: it's a marathon, not a race. Focus on the things you can do right now that will move you towards the next checkpoint.
2. Keep it simple
If you're dreading a task at hand, it could be that you're simply over-analyzing it. Instead of spending time gathering all the facts, make a list of the outcome you hope to achieve and go from there - you'd be surprised what you can accomplish when you're playing it by ear! Granted, there are certain things in life where this might not be such a good idea - take investments, for example. But with that said, a surprisingly large number of successful entrepreneurs didn't get there by humming and hawing over the height of the plunge; instead they just went on ahead, jumped and learned how to fly on the way down!
3. Respect other people's time
No-one likes being a hypocrite, right? If you don't respect other people's time, eventually they'll stop respecting your time as well. It's OK to be busy, and it's OK to have priorities - but it's critical in business dealings to make sure that you understand when someone is venturing out on a limb for you. I don't care how important you think you are - if you don't return calls, take more than 48 hours to respond to an email and constantly reschedule meetings, you're likely sending out a signal that you don't respect the other person and therefore don't want to do business with them. And in the business world, that's going to come back and bite you eventually!
4. When all else fails, be direct
Are you too nice? Do people walk all over you when you give them an opportunity to work with you? As a fisherman might say, you could be giving a little too much line. Sometimes you have to reel the other person in a little, and that means cutting straight to the chase. It's OK to tell someone you didn't appreciate how they re-scheduled your meeting 3 times in a row. It's OK to let someone know that your time deserves respect - because in my experience, if they don't respect your time, then the tone is already set for the rest of the relationship (and that's unlikely to change later). Know when it's time to walk away.
5. Take a little time for yourself
Oftentimes if you're just not being productive, it's not because you want to avoid the task at hand. Rather, it could be that you're simply overloaded and you just need to take a little time for yourself. One of the key signs of mental overload is when your brain starts to feel foggy. For example, let's say you have a list of tasks and you know exactly what you need to do but you're drawing a blank each time you try to get started - that's a surefire sign of brain exhaustion.
Photo by Joel DeTeves / Instagram
As an avid motorcyclist, one of my releases is hitting the open road - it gives me a sense of calm and allows me to zone out without worrying about the 10 things I need to deal with when I get home. Your release could be anything that affords you the same - IE that feeling of Zen you get when you're truly at peace and aren't mentally darting from one life's concern to another. So don't be afraid to take a little time for yourself, even if it means temporarily putting off some of the things you need to get done!