As the owner and CEO of a successful business, I’m constantly pulled in many directions. Our salespeople need information, a client calls with an issue or I’m due downtown for an industry meeting. To keep on top of it all -- and stay sane -- I’ve developed 5 daily habits that help keep me one step ahead.
- Set three daily priorities. Each day, my priorities vary. If I’m at a client’s office, I’m engrossed in what they need; yet when I’m in the office, a variety of matters need my attention. Each day, I try to write down the three things that must be achieved that day. This helps me keep focus on what I truly need to get done -- and feel good about my accomplishments. Naturally, life gets in the way, but the trick is to set attainable expectations.
- Reduce interruptions. This is incredibly hard to do, but very important. My entire team is remote, so when I’m in the office, I don’t have to worry about anyone physically interrupting me … but I do have electronic interruptions. To reduce these, I try to spend an hour a day without email, the phone or instant messaging. There are days I can’t make this happen, but it’s important to find a way to reduce interruptions when I haven’t finalized my daily priorities.
- Check email less frequently. Time management experts recommend checking email only a few times a day rather than every five minutes. This is a great tip! I generally check email early in the morning before the day begins, then periodically in between meetings and at the end of the day. When traveling or waiting for someone, I check email on my phone. The point is this: I am not a slave to email; if I were, nothing else would get done.
- Rely on my CRM. I preach automation and integration to my clients because I know it makes a huge difference in keeping them on track, thereby saving time and money. In my own business, the best tool we use is our CRM, QuickBase. We chose QuickBase because it can be customized to meet our needs. It keeps track of clients and prospects, monitors their activities, manages proposals, contracts and signatures, and sends reminders for various activities that we need to do. In addition to sales and prospect management, there are project management and HR components that allow us to stay on top of all the activities going on in our business.
- Set a timer. One of my team members set up his computer to announce the hour, sort of like an old fashioned cuckoo clock. I recently adopted his habit. It allows me to keep better track of time when I’m knee-deep in a project. An important side benefit is that it reminds me to eat; I no longer get the afternoon doldrums because I forgot to eat lunch.
Remember, you can never get everything done -- I call that “job security.” But, having some simple daily habits to improve productivity means I have more control over my day with more time spent on the activities that brings me and my company the biggest results.
Marjorie Adams is president/CEO of AQB, a business process & software consulting firm that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments.
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