We speak a lot about time in our industry—lack thereof, making the most of it, how we bill for it, how it is often at someone else’s discretion and the best (and worst) ways we spend it. Yet I see little evaluation of how we spend our time and what we might want to do differently to make our time more valuable, productive, effective, profitable and within our control.
What if every year you asked yourself the following questions?
- What did I enjoy most about my work last year and what do I need to do to continue that work, project or time spent?
- Where are my clients and referrals coming from (specifically what individuals, actions, activities) and am I fostering those relationships and activities enough?
- What activities, clients, projects or events did I not enjoy and how can I change that for next year?
I’ve been challenging all of my business development coaching participants to analyze how they spent their time in 2018 so they can make better choices and feel more in control of their own calendar in 2019. It takes about three to four hours to do it properly. Here are the steps I am asking them to take. (Some of you may need to analyze accounting billing history in addition to calendars if you are not great about capturing everything in your calendar.)
- Evaluate your calendar day by day and week by week. Categorize how you spent your time.
- Start making a list of all the projects, events, trips, business development actions and other activities.
- Put each activity under the following categories:
- Time well spent: Enjoyable; want to repeat
- Unclear of the value: Worth continuing
- Need to do: Would like to determine a better way to allocate time
- Not valuable: Eliminate going forward
- Time well spent and Unclear of the value: Map how that work came to you and what actions you need to take to ensure it will continue and expand.
- Need to do: Start having conversations with colleagues, peers, clients and associates on how to more effectively allocate time to these projects.
- Not valuable: Take immediate action not to repeat the work and communicate those choices to others.
- Evaluate if you allocated enough time for health, wellness and personal time with friends and family. If you are unhappy with the assessment, build changes into your calendar now.
- Schedule time for vacations at the beginning of the year so they are prioritized.
- Evaluate your progress and activity at six months. Determine what changes you need to make to ensure your calendar and time reflect your passions, what you do best and how you want to spend your time.
Make this the year that you feel in control of your time, projects and relationships.