“There just isn’t enough time!” In today’s fast-paced world, employees and bosses alike often feel the crunch. The imbalance between hours in the day and the workload seems especially prevalent in small businesses where every person wears more than one hat. At the end of the week, employees still have a full “to-do” list. But by developing some good habits and practicing some time management techniques, the list becomes more manageable. There are several well-known time management systems to explore, some with common elements, but ultimately each with its own focus. There isn’t one system that is right for everyone. One of my favorite time management systems to share with clients is laid out in Brian Tracy‘s “Eat That Frog”. The book starts with the concept based on a Mark Twain suggestion, that if you have to eat a live frog first thing in the morning, that that will be the worst thing that happens to you all day. So, Brian Tracy suggests you make the biggest or hardest task on your list the first one you tackle each day. In other words – eat your frog.
There are many time management strategies covered in “Eat That Frog”. The time management techniques included are applicable to both business and personal success. The recurring theme of the “frog” – or biggest task – runs throughout and ties together the ideas. While all of the ideas in the book work in conjunction with each other, small businesses can really benefit from the chapters on setting goals, methods for making lists, and finding the tasks to concentrate on.
As a business, you need to set goals and create an action plan to make sure your company is on the right track for growth and success. Tracy includes a checklist in his book for setting and achieving goals. You may have a goal to grow your client base, or cross train your employees. Find the biggest goal you want to reach, write it down, then set a deadline.
Once your goal is set, you can break it down into smaller deadlines if necessary. Next, Tracy suggests you create a list that includes everything you to have to do to achieve that goal. This list will become your plan. No detail is too small. If there are actions that involve multiple employees, break it down by person. Then you should take action on the plan immediately. Don’t wait to fulfill the list.
If you can do the “frog” on the list immediately, that’s even more preferable. The final step to achieving your goal is to “resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal.” Tracy continues to say, “Think about your goals and review them daily. Every morning when you begin take action on the most important task you can accomplish to achieve your most important goal at the moment.” For your business, you may have many goals you’re trying to achieve, but the “frog” method is to first work towards the goal that provides the outcome that will change your business the most.
Small businesses have fewer employees, but can be as complex to operate as a larger corporations. So they need tasks to be streamlined. Tracy recommends that you make task lists for all of you need to do and assign them to annual, monthly, weekly and daily lists. He has an easy way to prioritize the daily tasks list. Once you’ve completed the list to be done for the next day, Tracy suggests grading tasks “A, B, C, D, and E” with “A” the most important. “A” tasks are your “frogs”. Things that “must” get done that day like “Send out the Jones Quote”. Grade down from there, with “B” as a task you should do, or “C” for something that would be nice to complete but can wait if you don’t have time. Mark tasks that can be delegated as a “D”, and anything that can be eliminated as an “E”. In time, the habit of creating the list for the next day will increase your productivity.
Another time management technique that “Eat Your Frog” presents is to look at which tasks are the most important for each employee. Tracy surmises that ” ‘The Law of Three’ says that there are only three things that you do each day that account for 90% of the value of everything that you do…90% of your sales, your success and your future.” Evaluate the tasks that your employees do. Take their top three tasks that wouldn’t get done if that person didn’t do them. Those are the tasks that employee should concentrate on. Everything else they are doing should get handled by someone else or left for when those main tasks are complete. When the top three tasks are recognized and encouraged, each employee will know what’s expected and boost their productivity.
Brian Tracy’s book is worth finding at Main Street Books in Davidson or among the shelves of your local bookstore. It’s great to explore the concepts laid out in each of the chapters to see if at least one of the ideas presented can help increase the potential in your employees and business. If this time management system doesn’t flow for you, or you have another favorite, please let us know. In the meantime, if you need help with managing the time your employees spend on tasks, write down a meeting with us on your “to-do” list for this week.