You ARE in control of your day!

I work with executives - lots of executives. One main complaint sounds something like this, "I don't have enough time during the day. I have to come in early and work late to get anything done and get enough time billed." Time and time again, after diving into the mechanics of their days, we inevitably uncover lots of time-wasting activities (including, but not limited to: small talk, answering emails in real time, answering the phone right in the middle of being productive, surfing the web and good old procrastination). Further dissection leads to the conclusion that much more could be done, in much less time, leaving additional time for business generation, marketing activities and even (*gasp*) free time.

Of course, these same time-wasting activities run rampant through all professional disciplines, and all of them require new business to keep the doors open. Here are some tips for getting those 8 hours billed, or making the most of the time you are in the office.
  • Use the structure of the 50-minute hour. I call this "going into the tunnel." In those 50 minutes, you can get a lot of work done when you turn off the cell phone, turn down the ringer on your office phone, turn off the email "dinger" and shut (lock!) your office door. This minimizes interruptions and allows you to focus and remain focused until YOU decide to pop your head out and see what's been happening. Ask your assistant to take messages and let unscheduled visitors know you'll be getting in touch with them at your next opportunity.*
  • Be the one to decide the urgency (or lack thereof) of the work coming across your desk. I've noticed a lot of false urgency brought on by ego and the need for instant gratification. Use your experience and education to discern which items need to be addressed immediately (is it really a fire?) and which ones can be done in a reasonable amount of time. Prioritize those items, then stick to the schedule you've put in place.
  • Based on your goals, create a list of marketing, practice and business-building tasks to complete during the in-between times. Once you've fnished a project or closed a deal, give yourself a finite, short period of time to relax and recharge. It could be an hour, an afternoon or the weekend. Then break out the list, put your task items on the calendar and get them completed. This will ensure you continue to have projects to complete and deals to close ...
If your argument is: "I have to be available every minute of every day, all the time" think back to a time when you were on a plane, or on vacation (with no cell service) or in any number of situations where you simply weren't available. The fires and seemingly crucially important things that came up were handled by someone else or they were right there waiting for you when you were available. Its not that you can't, it's that you haven't up until this point. You absolutely have a huge say in how your day goes. Or you can from now on!

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