I was sitting on a plane last night on a flight coming back from giving a speech in LA, and I thought to myself, how much space do I have to work here? I boarded the plane with the best intentions of getting some work done, but I found it hard to be productive while on the plane. There were so many interruptions, like the announcements, the flight attendants coming by with snacks and drinks, not to mention the crying kids in front and in back of me.
I stopped a flight attendant and asked if she knew how wide the seat was and how much distance there was between seats. She didn't know and went to ask another attendant. He did not know and I said, “I wish I had a tape measure.” She said, “I have a tape measure” and brought it to me so we could measure. The seat width (including 1/2 an arm rest each way) was 18″ and there was 32″ between both seats when they are upright. That equals 4 square feet of space and about 4 feet tall when seated (16 cubic feet of space).
When the seat tray is pulled out, it's really hard to place a laptop at the right distance so it's easy to read, and your elbows end up being tucked back, making it hard to type. Then, if you need internet access to work (Hello? … I am an internet marketer and web developer) it costs $8 per day per device on WiFi-enabled aircraft on Southwest Airlines. The airline gave us free access to live TV and Sunday Night Football was on, so I put on my earbuds and decided to drown out the crying kids!
I thanked the flight attendants while telling them that I was doing research for my blog. They were outstanding customer service reps, so I gave them a business card so I could share my thoughts and this blog with them (who knows if they will take me up on that?)!
During the conference this past weekend, there were two speakers who presented on productivity (Cynthia Alexander and Leslie Cardinal), so I will try to build on what they shared and add some of my insights on the subject. Cynthia and Leslie talked about morning and evening tips that can help you be more productive. Leslie covered the evening and Cynthia did the best snooze alarm improv I have ever seen! They offered some awesome tips about how to start your day off while being more organized and productive.
There is a book (full disclosure – I am starting the audio book), The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod. He talks about six practices to start your day (SAVERS) Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Read, and Scribing (journaling). The bottom line is to start your day with purpose, not just jumping on Facebook or email and reacting to other peoples needs or issues.
As a solopreneur, I have to manage my time. If you are an entrepreneur or consultant, you know that time is money. You don't always want to be in the business of trading hours for dollars, but in part, you can't help doing just that! I like to break my workday into three segments:
- MMA – Money Making Activities: Things that I can bill clients for or fulfilling promises I have made to those who have already paid me. This is the cornerstone of running a business and making a profit.
- BMA – Business Making Activities: Blogs, podcasts, websites or anything that helps me generate new business. No matter how busy you are, you have to take the time to create new business.
- CMA – Client Maintenance Activities: This is everything else. I consider Facebook and social media, email, text, and phone calls as a necessary evil of being in business. Some may call this customer service. It pays to stay in touch with past and current clients.
In a perfect world your day would be 100% MMA, but you create the MMA through BMA and CMA. Then, on top of all of this you have to make room for some “Me Time.” This is where you continue to learn and improve your knowledge and skill set. I walk my dog every day at 3 pm (yes he can tell time), so I can exercise, recharge my batteries and just have some downtime away from my keyboard and mouse. I use that time to listen to podcasts and audio books to help grow my knowledge and think of how I can improve myself and my business.
What do most of us do first thing in the morning? We tend to jump on email or social media and just go with the flow until we realize that our morning is gone. Here are some tips that I have learned to help take more control of my day:
- Schedule Your Day: I start my day the night before. I actually have an alert in my calendar to remind me to create a to-do list and to make sure the list is put in order of importance. I try to start with MMAs, then add the BMAs and CMAs. If you break your day into 2 or 3 segments, you can have pre-defined times to deal with each segment with a weighted scale (3 hours with 2 hours for MMAs and 1/2 hour each for BMAs and CMAs).
- Start with MMAs: Making money for yourself or your company has to always be of the highest priority. Without MMAs you don't have a business, you have a hobby. Make a priority of what is the most time intensive and do that first. Then you have time left over for smaller tasks. Hint: most people gravitate to the simple tasks first, because you feel more productive, but that is counter-productive to really getting the most out of your day.
- Make Time For BMAs: Networking, social media, and working on your own marketing materials have to be a part of your business. The hard part about this is … the busier you are, the harder you need to market. Otherwise, you may soon be riding the feast and financial rollercoaster. Again, make a plan of what you need or want to accomplish. Give priority to those activities that will have the best ROI for MMAs.
- Be Flexible And Keep Track of CMAs: Stuff happens and some clients think that they are your #1 priority 100% of the time. Be proactive and respond to phone calls, emails, texts and social media. Try to schedule time to review them and respond. Give the client or prospect a response with a timeframe of when you plan to respond or complete the task they are requesting.
Time management is a fallacy. Time manages us. We all have the same 168 hours per week, 24 hours per day, 60 minutes per hour and 60 seconds per minute (that is also 1440 minutes per day and 604,800 seconds per week – eating, sleeping and other stuff still has to happen). Task management is the best way to make the most of your day.
So, I would love to hear some of your feedback, tips and comments on how you have learned to make the most of your day and your business. Comment away!