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Get organisedWe recently ran a survey with small business owners and we discovered that over 90% of business owners don’t keep a record of the day to day running of their business or use a diary system to track appointments or tasks they want to get gone. As someone once said to me “if it isn’t written down it doesn’t exist”.

It is amazing how many people commit everything to memory or at best scraps of paper or Post-it- Notes which are to be found somewhere between the office wall, the desk, top drawer, wallet, purse, handbag and glove box of the car or home office. As a result, only a fraction of things get done on time, if at all. And don’t even start to think about all those ‘million dollar’ ideas that disappeared into the ether.

So the question is, would you like to have a competitive edge over 90% of all other business owners and work colleagues? If so, follow along with the Your Business Success ‘crash course in time management’.

Over the years I have completed numerous time management courses and read a number of books on the topic and although I always started out with good intentions, ultimately I felt a failed when it came to successfully implementing all the great ideas I was presented. In 2003, I was reading Richard Branson’s autobiography, Losing My Virginity. I was fascinated by how he came up with so many great ideas and successfully started so many businesses in so many different industries. He wrote:

‘….my most essential possession is a standard-sized school notebook, which can be bought at any stationary shop on any high street across the country. I carry this everywhere and write down all the comments that are made to me by Virgin staff and anyone else I meet. I make notes of all telephone conversations and all meetings, and I draft out letters and lists of telephone calls to make…..the discipline of writing everything down ensures that I have listened to people carefully.’

It seemed so simple that I decided to give it a try. I am now up to book fourteen. I now have a complete record of my business since January 2003, nearly 3360 pages kept in chronological order. I know there are more comprehensive time management systems out their but as a basic starting point I know this works I have taught it to over 70 business owners in the past 6 months alone all with great results.

1. How to get organised and succeed in 2010:

• Buy a simple A4 spiral bound notebook and commit to recording EVERYTHING in it.
• Start a new page for each goal, new meeting or topic. Always write the name of the topic, goal, company or person you are meeting with at the top of the page and date it.
• At the end of each meeting write an action plan of you have to do and what others have to do and set deadlines.

2. Weekly Review:

This is one of the most important steps and requires discipline.
• Review all meeting notes and create a To Do list for the week for outstanding items.
• Use a highlighter to cross out the pages where all items are completed so you know you don’t have to read them again. Over time when you go back through your notebook you will only look at the pages that aren’t crossed out.

3. Completing Your To – Do List – Get Number ONE Done.

The secret to success isn’t about getting everything done; it’s about getting the most important things done. You may find that your To – Do list can get a bit daunting so what you need to do each day is decide on what the Number One thing is that you must get done before you go to bed that night and be satisfied that you got that done. If you could get the most important task done each day, 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year that means you have completed 250 of the most important tasks each year. This will put you way ahead of the competition and ensure you achieve the goals you set out at the start of the year.

4. You don’t have to do it all – Learn to Delegate.

Review your To Do list, decide on what you want to do or only you can do, and DELEGATE the rest.

5. Use a Diary to Track Deadlines

Success is not only about you doing things it is also about making sure others get things done. If you choose to delegate tasks then use a paper based diary, Outlook on your computer or even your mobile phone, to make a note of the date/time when the person you delegated a task to is meant to have it completed. You will be amazed how things start to get done when people know you will be following them up. A little prompt from you a day or two before the deadline always helps as well. How to You Find Things Later On?

I have found the majority of issues are taken care of over a 2 or 3 month time span and I that most people roughly remember which week/month they were discussed so by keeping things in chronological order it doesn’t take long to find them. You can go further than this as all the time management courses will tell you. But if you can commit to at least starting with Richard Branson’s simple idea of just writing EVERYTHING into a simple A4 notebook and using a diary, you will be well and truly on the path to success.

Andrew Vincent was the creator and producer of the Channel 9 television series Your Business Success. Over 80 of the best episodes have been re-edited and supported by a set of easy to follow workbooks and FREE business coaching. Go to www.yourbusinesssuccess.com.au.

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Andrew Vincent

Andrew Vincent

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