When others abuse your time they’re reaching into your pocket and stealing from your wallet!
Dear Friend and Subscriber,
As far as our clients are concerned, TIME is a double edged sword when it comes to marketing. Why? Because although they know that these marketing strategies are designed to provide them with more time, most struggle to find the time to actually put the strategies into practice.
The clock is ticking and action is required, yet …
People still cannot seem to implement quickly if at all!
But if you look closely at almost any business, the reasons why become abundantly clear.
I once spent 16 amazing days in Hawaii at an event called Business School for Entrepreneurs, run by Robert Kiyosaki, where if I was to say the issue of TIME was treated as paramount, I would be making a gross understatement! Robert ran a series of courses around the world at the time and Business School was by far the longest and many would say, the most challenging. As the name suggests, its focus was on ‘business’ and there were 369 participants from all over the world.
Robert operated his courses by the principle that says the manner in which people play games and how they participate in teams is a reflection of their behaviour in everyday life. For that reason, we were organised into teams and over the course of the 16 days, we played games, enacted roles and competed in team events. I might also add that on average, we got 3 hours sleep a night and we were expected to “play full tilt”. Robert’s philosophy was “SLEEP NEXT MONTH!”
Every team comprised about 12 to 14 members, amounting to 26 teams in all. Apart from the fact a part of Robert’s agenda was to underline the profound importance TIME plays in the scheme of running a successful business, with that many people to organise and the myriad of games and events to get through, not to mention preparation and debriefing sessions we simply had to run on time.
How did Robert get 369 people to comply? By making us accountable. How did he make us accountable? By slapping each and every member of the team with a big fine if even ONE person was late! If there was a straggler to any of the organised meetings or when the whole course was due to meet, their fine was multiplied by 12 or 14! They cost their team mates MONEY! And I’m talking significant amounts of money – up to $400 EACH! You can imagine the pressure brought to bear with so much to lose!
Although time has always been important to me, the lessons I learned from that course left an indelible print. And the lesson that Kiyosaki was teaching us of course is that …
TIME IS MONEY!
Just how much money? Well that depends…
Do you know what your time is worth?
Many of you will have signed up for one of those time management seminars where the course presenter triumphantly hands you a huge leather binder with colour coded time blocks broken down into 10 minute increments. However if you peek over the shoulder of someone with one of these little “problem solvers”, what you would see blocked out for months ahead, would be lunch times and a nap! Now if you need a $300 system to pre-block your power naps and snack attacks – you’re in trouble!
The real issue is about what your time is worth and the problem with systems like the one I’ve just mentioned is the logic they use to arrive at the answer. They simply reason that you need to decide how much you want to make a year and divide this by how many working hours there are in a year and come up with what your time has to be worth.
There is a major flaw in this formula!
The major flaw in this type of formula is the assumption that every one of these hours will be a productive working one! Nobody is that good! In fact one survey which involved asking various companies to estimate their daily productivity in terms of time, showed between 15 and 20 minutes each day to be closer to the mark. If an employee from one of these companies were to use the usual formula to work out his or her worth, they would be paid for 20 minutes a day!
Here is the correct formula to use in order to arrive at just what your time is worth. Firstly, decide what your base earnings target – the lowest amount of money you want to earn – is. For example, if your target is $300,000, with 365 days per year (minus, say 130 days for weekends and holidays leaving 235 days) multiply by 7 hours in a day, giving you 1,645 working hours in a year, divide the base earnings by 1645 and you have $ required per hour. In this scenario, $300,000 (divide by sign) 1645 hr = $182.37 per hour.
Out of 50 Time Management books, 25 of them will present the same formula I just gave you. And in 100 Time Management seminars, you’ll find the formula with one major flaw. Nobody takes into account the ratio of productive to UN productive! SO to get to the TRUTH, you must first work out how much time of your day is actually PRODUCTIVE!
To find out exactly what my time is worth and using $300,000 as an example, divide it by the number of productive hours I actually work. For example, I figure I put in 3½ hours of solid productivity per day so I would need to divide $300,000 by 822.5 hours (3.5 hours x 235 days) which gives me $364.74 per hour as a measure of what my time is worth.
Now this exercise is a very good one to do, because the higher the number works out to be, the less tolerant you will be of having that time stolen from you! The people you allow to abuse your time might just as well reach their hands into your wallet and take out your money! This is how you must come to view it – this is the result of having your time wasted.
The first obstacle you must overcome, when it comes to your diminishing productivity, is YOU!!
On an average, a business owner will be interrupted once every 8 minutes. If each time you are interrupted it takes 3 minutes to deal with whatever it is and get back to what you were doing, 15 minutes of every hour is LOST. If you then multiply these 15 minutes by the number of hours you work per day, the amount of time you lose on a DAILY BASIS
is frightening in terms of the ramifications on your business! And if even one issue takes more time to be sorted, even more time is lost!
Make the commitment to yourself that you will not allow your time to be abused or misused!
In my experience, even people who DO place a high value on their time do not articulate this to others and the price they pay by setting themselves up this way is to be abused!
Years ago, I had an “open door” policy. Clients and friends often used to pop in when they “Just happened to be driving past” and fleece me of precious time while they waffled on about non-specifics. By the end of the day, I would wind up stressed and a hell of a lot lighter in the pocket than I had potentially started the day. While others demanded my attention, I hadn’t a hope of working on my business and the time I lost listening to waffle could never be made up! Those days are long gone!
Whether it’s a client who’s made an appointment to “mastermind” or a colleague calling to “think-tank”, unless they apply focus and stay on track, presuming that was the intention in the first place, a more appropriate word for the content of the call could easily be “bulldust”.
I’m capable of doing it very well myself and I’m not condemning the odd call about “bulldust”, it might even be a relaxing diversion when you need it. It becomes a problem when it devours time which could otherwise be spent productively! So if its bulldust, call it that and don’t kid yourself it’s anything else. If it’s supposed to be a mastermind session, make it a mastermind session! And if it’s a colleague or friend calling to bulldust in the guise of having a “think-tank”? I always think it’s better to tell it like it is. That doesn’t mean you can’t be diplomatic. I have the odd breakfast with mates and colleagues during which time we can address specifics, enjoy a bit of banter – then I go to work to work.
Make it HARD for people to abuse your time.
Those people who really want to use it in a productive manner will work their way to you anyway, while the “tyre kickers” will soon give up.
Respect your own time. You must toughen up and the more money that keeps disappearing from your wallet, the tougher you must become! The value you place on your time must be HIGH! Just recently, we received a very righteous and angry letter from a young lady who could not “get straight through to me” when she called my office and wasn’t prepared to say what the reason for her call was, when asked. Apart from berating my “gatekeeper” she intimated that I obviously thought I was the centre of the universe! Well, actually I DO! This particular Universe does revolve around me and it’s up to everybody else to facilitate productive use of my time. You must think the same way.
Why? Because once you have worked out what your time is worth and compared it to what the time of others around you is worth, yours will be the most valuable! Is the time of your teenager worth more than yours? Is the time of the guy on $18.00 an hour, who just “popped by on the off chance of catching you in” worth more than yours? What about the lady who insists on talking to you when there are three other people perfectly well equipped to help her, who have offered to do so?
Does it make any sense at all for you, as the person in your organisation who is responsible for generating business, to attend to incoming phone calls which relate to anything from making appointments to asking for information to be sent out, to letting you know that your latest print run is ready and waiting to be picked up? If you have staff that can take sales calls and attend to questions, why on earth would you drop what you are doing proactively to build your business, to answer the phone?
If you’re taking a call from someone who has booked a block of your time or even seeing them in person if that works for you and is a valid part of your system and they begin to sound vague giving you the impression that the call or appointment is really heading “nowhere”, a quick way to make the distinction is to ask … What is the agenda? What problem were you hoping to solve? What outcome do you want to achieve? What opportunity is it you want to explore? What strategy is it you want to address etc.
People who make a habit of talking “bulldust” wonder why they never seem to get anything done. And they are usually oblivious to the fact that they have just wasted somebody else’s time as well as their own!
If you have no boundaries in place, your staff can take up valuable time too! If you’re around, you might be surprised how often a member of staff will interrupt you to check something or ask questions, when they are quite capable of figuring out the answers or solutions by themselves. Even when you aren’t there in person, your mobile phone or pager makes you accessible.
How accessible do you want to be?
The urgency to communicate with you – and the abuse of your time is directly related to how EASY it is to communicate with you.
People whose time is abused ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN!
The truth is, if you have set up good marketing systems to support your business, being INACCESIBLE is a very effective strategy.
Why? Because you become elevated in status. It may seem strange, but it’s a bit like take-away selling. The harder you are to reach, the more value you are perceived to have! It happens all the time; a person doubles their fees and the demand for their time increases! There are some businesses where this doesn’t apply, but in most cases, there is a very real danger in believing that if you don’t return every call to your office immediately, the result will be lost orders and customers “jumping ship”. If this happens to you, you have become a commodity, bought on price alone! Oh-oh!
The fact is, if your marketing and your positioning are good, this will work beautifully in favour of how your time is managed. And you will be surprised how quickly customers get educated.
You might have a short list of individuals whose calls you allow to come straight through to you, even though this will interrupt your time. Note I said SHORT list. That doesn’t mean everybody you know! It means that you trust a handful of people to treat your time with respect and you know they will not abuse the privilege. It may also be a client who invests a lot of money with you and there is a mutual understanding and respect with regard to this.
I suggest that if you intend taking in-bound calls, you “cluster” them. This could be facilitated by your marketing material which states that “If you must speak with me, I am available on [specific days] between the hours of x and y.” You could offer the alternative of faxing through or emailing through and this will take care of some calls.
You could have a list of Priority A callers and a list of ‘secondary’ B callers. Your A list, apart from family members, will be your staff, anybody you have an on-going financial arrangement with such as clients who pay you a lot of money or have the potential to. Your B list might be vendors, media personnel, people who don’t directly pay you money.
At times when I am travelling “in seminar”, there will be calls requiring a response so when they reach a certain number and I have a time “window”, I will send a fax to the people in question stating “Mal will be at this number between X and Y o’clock. If you are unable to call within that time frame, please don’t leave a message as messages won’t be checked and your call will not be returned. If you don’t get through, call again. Some of you may not get through, depending on the number of calls and time permitting. Good Luck!
This works for me in the hectic seminar environment. I know exactly what I will be doing during the allotted time and I will endeavour to get through as many of these calls as I can. Those who were unable to make contact that day will receive another fax for the following week or few days.
And what do you think invariably happens?
People value my time AND their own time more! Even those who pay me an amount of money in exchange for my time express an apology for “bothering” me and thank me for taking their call. That’s GOOD! In my opinion respect should be exercised in EVERY relationship, business or otherwise and regardless of what type of industry! Such a system for dealing with calls also puts a halt to the succession of phone calls in one day from the same person who begins the second or third call with “I just forgot…”
But it’s up to you to “train” your clients/customers. And there is no good reason why that can’t happen if you follow through on every aspect!
Out-bound Calls: If you have the resources and have your phone appointments made for you, “cluster” your calls; deal with them in one block of time. This also eliminates the annoying phenomenon of “telephone ping-pong”.
Love it or hate it, Voice-mail is here to stay! I’m the same as everybody in that I MUCH prefer to speak with a real person on the end of the phone BUT it is the way of the world now, that more often than not, when you call a business, you will get a voice mail message. Make it work FOR you. It has become so much the norm the world over, it is highly unlikely to have any adverse effect on your business if you use it.
There are systems now which combine technology with a live operator, so you can dial into your machine and instruct it to deliver a message to a particular person – by a live person. A real person will deliver the message – that might be your assistant – or it can be done electronically. There are systems that trigger automatic redialling at regular intervals until a person is reached. This could only be called smart marketing over dumb prospecting where you physically sit and dial a number yourself, thereby having to refocus constantly and waste your time into the bargain!
Don’t waste your time talking on the phone to people who are poorly qualified! That’s where Lead Generating systems are so powerful! There needs to be at least a 50% chance that the person you are talking to will soon be paying you money in exchange for your product or service.
I have endured pointless conversations, but not for very long, with people who have managed to slip through the net, so to speak, by convincing my staff that they indeed have studied the Free Report we’ve sent out at their request. They made the right noises and an appointment was booked. But when we have begun to talk, it’s obvious that they haven’t read a word in the time they’ve had the pack of information because they couldn’t be bothered and they want me to sell him/her on why they should buy this package! They expect me to spend my time, which is obviously far less valuable to them than their own, explaining the whole concept in person from the ground up!
My net is far more difficult to get through these days and my staff is very capable.
Tomorrow, just observe throughout the day, what percentage of your time gets interrupted by phone calls or other things demanding your attention. Notice how this affects you in terms of stress and then DO something proactive – work out a way to reduce access to you.
There are times when an individual who has no understanding of and little or no regard for the fact that they cannot be put straight through to you, will call your business.
You know the type of caller I’m referring to; the arrogant type with the air of superiority who perceives your staff as ‘little people’ and so refuse to provide information about the purpose of their call when asked. Never mind that your staff is acting under instruction from you and that there must be a valid reason for having a system in place.
My staff have received answers to the question “Who is calling please?” such as “Geoff”. Obviously “Geoff” knows full well that his first name and other monosyllabic answers do not provide enough information for my reception, but some kind of superior attitude causes a “how dare you ask me anything” reaction to the screening process and nobody wins – but time is certainly wasted and tempers frayed!
In fact I am LESS likely to answer calls when I know that the caller has treated my staff with contempt or disdain. And if I don’t know what the call is about, what am I left to conclude? That this call is probably going to waste my time!
Meetings and Tele-Conference Calls should always have an agenda! There must be a topic or topics of discussion and some control must be exercised over proceedings, such as how much time will be given to each topic, what question is being addressed or problem being solved etc. Without some prior planning, meetings of any kind can turn into an absolute shemozzle – and a big waste of your TIME!
The PLATINUM level of my impending Inner Circle Mentoring Mastermind Programme discourages waffle. For example, the format of a two day meeting is highly organised, it involves other people, an investment of money has been made and certain outcomes are expected. Wafflers are not usually tolerated in a group environment where an investment of time and money has been made and the majority has focus and intent.
‘Junk’Communication … courtesy of technology:
The blight of junk communication has been spawned by the same technology that has revolutionised the way we do business. When this amazing technology is used efficiently, its capability is mind boggling …and when it’s not, it is capable of generating a staggering amount of time wasting JUNK!
Picture the manager who directs 50 people, striving to meet a time deadline when his mobile phone rings. It’s his wife calling to tell him about how their eldest daughter wouldn’t get ready for school that morning or that junior had a rumble at school today. He’s practically panting to meet his deadline but he takes the call and gets drawn into a conversation. Prior to the introduction of mobile phones, would his wife have had him paged to tell him the same story or saved it till dinner time? Nope, that instant communicator, the mobile phone has made it all so easy!
Then there are the email jokes that get forwarded to millions of PC’s around the world every day. Some of them are funny – almost all of it has to be deleted. It’s a time “vampire” It’s all JUNK!
It’s a paradox that the very thing that was created to serve us, also dominates us. Not that long ago, when a group of people walked to a lunch bar they would spend the time talking and laughing together. Now, it’s more likely that at least every other person will have a mobile phone stuck to their ear. There’s even a book been written about how these sources of instant communication have caused a downward spiral in the level of civility we now show each other!
We ALLOW this to happen. We LET technology dominate how we use our time and our resources.
It is up to YOU to communicate your time values to others!
And then make sure you walk your talk! If you are surrounded by employees who constantly turn up for work late, what sort of an example are you setting for them? I have listened to employers rant and rave about the tardiness of the people who work for them, only to witness them running late for appointments with both staff and clients, themselves. What this tells me is his employees are simply mirroring the tardiness of their boss!
What if you are easily distracted; you somehow just get off track constantly?
Well, firstly it’s important to actually have a clear picture of what “productive” means to you. Your productive and my productive might vary widely. And without knowing exactly what productive means to you, how will you measure your level of productivity? It’s always a good idea to grab a pen and write a definition out, it will help you to get clear.
Abusive use of your time is one of the biggest adversaries to your business. It was certainly a hurdle I had to overcome in the early days of my current business.
Here are other ways I use MY time effectively:
- I work fast! And I do this by isolating myself. Just before Christmas I spent a week in a bush retreat with my wife. No phones, no faxes, no email, no beeper! I had one of the most productive weeks I’ve enjoyed in a long time, writing fast and furiously, without interruption.
- I also work fast by operating on the “good enough is good enough” principle. In my opinion, perfection is often over rated, often unrewarded and takes four times the amount of time.
- I work fast because I have good resources at my disposal. Before we “retreated” to the bush, I completed a 5 day round trip to the United States on a resources gathering mission, spending $16,250 in the process. Not that I’m advocating mammoth trips in record trip, but to be willing to do what it takes!
- I am proactive in my business – I work on what is most important and most profitable! This may mean you put other things aside for the time, but you are working on what puts money in the bank! If you do take calls, they must be qualified callers and a good Lead Generating system will facilitate this.
- It’s not my job and it isn’t yours, to sell from the ground up, in person on the phone. YOUR JOB IS TO WRITE THE BUSINESS.
- For instance, when I sell my Inner Circle Mentoring Mastermind Programme, I have provided Application Forms which entitle people to a Conference call with perhaps 100 or 200 other people. What efficient technology and smart use of it! Instead of talking to all these people one at a time, one phone call; one block of time achieves the same result. Brilliant! I can be the “Unreasonable Man”! By that I mean that I am prepared to put pressure on those around me to work with speed! This includes my staff and suppliers.
- Set your own deadlines for a task. I have deadlines within deadlines because I happen to believe that when some pressure is applied, action is taken! You must be acutely aware of the clock and know that others are aware of it as well.
If you are writing an advertising piece, perhaps a sales letter, estimate how long the task will take and STICK to that time. So much time is frittered away doing something that takes “as long as it takes”. If you think it ought to take 1 ½ hours, work to the clock! Impose realistic deadlines on yourself!
And realistic is an operative word. There is no point in setting yourself so many tasks to do in the time you have allotted that not only will you never be able to achieve them all, but in the process of trying you will put an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself.
What happens when you set realistic deadlines however is you get what you have to do, done faster! You also tend to be far more efficient in the process. If you do have too many things to do, you need to prioritise.
Setting Your Boundaries – Learn How to Say NO! You must learn to discriminate. I know that when times have been tough, it can seem hard to turn away ANY business, but not all business is good business. Business on YOUR terms and in keeping with YOUR values and requirements is business that has the potential to flourish. It means that instead of giving your time to clients/business/situations which ultimately result in a WASTE of your time, you can spend it with people and situations that represent GOOD business, which usually spawns more good business.
If you have a propensity to want to help the world, and that includes entering into a business arrangement you know is not in your own best interests, your time management will be seriously challenged! Saying NO, especially if it is difficult for you, will ultimately EMPOWER you!
Don’t make other people’s problems your own!
When Dame Edna Everidge throws gladioli into her audience, do people duck out of the way or swat them back at her? No, the most natural reaction is to reach out and CATCH them. And so it is with other people’s problems! They throw them to us, we catch them, they get rid of them, we have ourselves a problem we didn’t have five minutes before. You could call it “reverse delegation”. If you are available to whomever wants to walk through your door or pick up the phone and call you, you are being delegated to – and you thought YOU did the delegating around there!
This is of course, is another way of looking at setting the ground rules, drawing boundaries. If you don’t draw the boundaries, you will find yourself lumbered with other people’s tasks, other people’s problems. How many times has a client or an employee brought you an unfinished job, in my case a sales letter or an ad they have obviously not followed the formula for despite the material they have bought from me, which shows them exactly how to do it and cajoled me into finishing it for them or worse still, writing the whole thing. It might be because their “marriage is under strain” or “one of the kids is sick and I haven’t slept for days” or “I have this deadline”. I’ve heard them all! Whatever the excuse, THEIR task is incomplete and they want YOU to finish it for them! Is that fair? Well of course it isn’t.
But more importantly, what does it do to your time? Remember every single time you volunteer your precious time, the amount of money you have to earn for the decreased time you have left, is INCREASED.
I have learned over time to expect the unexpected in dealings with other people / organisations. Of course when you have planned meticulously, dealing with something that comes up you haven’t allowed extra time for does nothing to enhance your time management, but over reacting or even under reacting to a situation could waste even more of your precious time.
Staffing issues are a case in point. You might have an employee who is clearly unsuitable for the job to the point where they even lower staff moral, but you under react and procrastinate over letting them go. When such a problem arises and a decision is called for, you could approach it from one these angles …
- Take action! It’s the obvious answer but if you are procrastinating because you’re worried that you might make the wrong decision, take comfort in this fact … if you make informed quick decisions and only get a percentage of them right, you might fail, but the flip side of failing is the lessons you get and usually quickly! The more you fail, the more you learn.
- Delegate to somebody else!
Time is something you can’t find again if you lose it or have over again if you waste it. The focus of this newsletter is on firstly recognising how your time at work gets wasted and then on exactly what you can do to stop this happening. That may involve CHANGING YOUR OWN BEHAVIOUR as well as PUTTING SYSTEMS IN PLACE that will free you up to concentrate on doing only the things that are proactive in your business.
Of course the greatest motivation for creating a successful business is the freedom and lifestyle choices we are able to make when our efforts have paid off. The quicker you implement the changes the sooner your life will change! Then you can choose to spend your precious time doing what gives you the greatest pleasure. If that means doing absolutely nothing for a while, then you are free to do just that!