In this modern world of e-mail, social media and other toys on the desktop, it is all too easy to become distracted by things that are not core to achieving your daily objectives.
One of the more common complaints I hear from the owners of small businesses is that there simply isn’t enough time in the day. They work long hours yet they rarely get time to do some of the things they know they should be doing because they get sidetracked by trivialities. For the most part, this is caused by insufficient self-discipline.
Now, I’m worried that that sounds just a little puritanical or even judgemental, but as the old saying goes, “If the cap fits, wear it”. I know it happens to me on a regular basis. But I also know that on the days when I sit down and plan my day ahead, I get much more done and I feel much more fulfilled at the end of the day.
One of the biggest culprits is our dear friend the e-mail. I don’t know about you, but I get in excess of 100 e-mails per day and it’s very easy to bury an important e-mail underneath all the rubbish. But if you were to analyse the stuff that comes in day in, day out, much of it can be avoided by spending a little time playing with the ‘unsubscribe’ buttons. It may take a little while to unsubscribe from a mailing list, and you may even miss a real diamond as a result of un-subscribing, but let’s face it – you are not reading them anyway.
One of my strategies is not to look at e-mail until after mid-day. This way, e-mails cannot hijack my day and throw me off-course before I’ve even got started with my plan. I don’t manage this every day because I have got into the habit of looking at emails on the fly. However, I certainly notice the difference when I discipline myself and leave them until later.
But, when is the right time to plan your day? I think this rather depends on you and your natural biorhythms, but for me, the best time to plan my day is the evening before. I really get into a productive space between 4:30 in the afternoon and 7:00 pm. I find work easy at that time and I appear to be at my most creative, so I like to plan my next day when everything is fresh in my head and I’m able to see the wood for the trees. It really helps me to get it out of my head and onto paper. My challenge is ensuring that I follow the plan when I start in the morning.
In my mind, there is no doubt. The better I plan my time, be it a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly plan, the more effective I become and the more my business benefits. Having clear objectives with time-scales attached help me keep my focus, and as you know ‘where the focus goes, energy flows.’
Now, back to my plan.........