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VERY QUICK WINS – how to give yourself loads more time

Tags: Meetings | Leadership | Save time | Do more

29th March

Do you ever find the job you’ve been asked to do isn’t the job that needs to be done?

This happened to me last month.

A company wanted me to help their salespeople sell more.

But the more time I spent with the salespeople, the more I realised their sales skills were pretty good. The problem was their calendars. They were so full of ‘corporate stuff’ that the salespeople didn’t have time to see enough customers.

Does this feel familiar? That feeling of ‘My calendar’s so busy that I can’t even do my day job’?

If so, you’ll enjoy this tip.

They did.

In fact, we tracked what’s happened to this team since our work together. And they’re each saving over eight hours per week.

Eight hours!

That’s a whole day a week.

And guess what? They’ve already started selling more.

So let’s free-up lots of time in your calendars - by doing the same thing I taught them…

I started with the important rule - your calendar is your fault. If your calendar lets you do what you want, that’s your fault. If it doesn’t, that’s your fault too.

We then did this simple exercise to free-up their time (remember: this gave each of them eight free hours every week):

  • Print off your calendars for the previous two weeks
  • For every calendars entry, ask yourself: ‘what could I have done to at least halve the time I spent on this thing?’ For example…
  • …You went to a meeting you didn’t need to
  • …You went to a meeting, but only needed to attend half of it
  • …You created a document which wasn’t what was wanted, so had to re-do it
  • …You spent time travelling to a face-to-face meeting which could have been a phone call
  • …You played Telephone Tennis with someone, wasting time trying to speak to them
  • …Someone asked for your help with something that ended up taking ages

When you’ve done this calendar review, if you managed to halve everything in the previous two weeks, you could’ve saved yourself one week.
A whole week!

Even if you could ‘only’ saved yourself a few hours… well, you’ve just saved yourself a few hours!

Now if this Tip were to stop here, it’d just be annoying - ‘well that’s just great, Andy. I now realise I wasted a week. Thanks a lot.’

But fortunately it doesn’t end there….

Instead, you now print your calendar for the next two weeks. Then ask yourself ‘based on the exercise I’ve just done, which calendar entries can I spend less time doing?’

And, once you identify potential time savings, communicate in advance to ensure you get them. For example:

  • Invited to meetings you don’t need to attend? Contact the owner beforehand, saying you’ve realised you can’t contribute anything worthwhile to this topic. So you won’t dilute what they’re doing by attending. (maybe add that you’d love to see the ‘Actions Arising’?)
  • Invited to a meeting where you can only contribute to half the agenda? Contact the owner, say you’re busy that day and will struggle to make the whole hour. But explain that, if they move the ‘your’ agenda items to the beginning, you’ll attend for just that bit
  • Preparing a document that will be hard to get right first time? 1) Have a quick chat upfront with the owner – agree what outcome she wants from the document, plus what the main headings should be 2) Bullet-point what you’ll include in each section, and ask for her approval/edits 3) Write you document, using your pre-agreed essay plan – much more likely to be right first time
  • Got some meetings that are face-to-face but don’t need to be? Contact the other person, suggesting you ‘meet’ by phone
  • Dreading an imminent game of Telephone Tennis? Text the other person - ‘Let’s avoid the dreaded Telephone Tennis. I’ll call you at 4pm today. Please text me a different time if that doesn’t work’

Notice how each of these suggestions benefits you both?

So it’s not just you saving time. They do too.

And they’re still getting what they want from you. But now, it’s better/quicker than they would’ve done.

So everyone wins.

Action Point

Pretty obvious this week, I guess…

…print off your calendar for the previous two weeks. Try and halve the time you spent on everything.

Then, preview the next two weeks and identify time savings.

Finally, communicate in advance and carefully with others, to free-up your and their time.