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I sound like a broken record, but, how you use your time is the greatest determining factor of your results in business and life. When I work with business owners one-on-one, this concept is arguably the most important one we cover during the process. Most business owners and sales professionals already strive to use their time wisely. They prioritize, plan, schedule and pay close attention to how they’re spending their minutes and hours. Even so, it’s not uncommon to look back and wonder where our time went or why we didn’t get more done. I’ve found there is one main factor that’s the culprit: disorganization.
Yes, even if you prioritize and plan, you’re not going to be as efficient if you are disorganized. What types of disorganization am I talking about?
- Physically disorganized. Do you have papers and junk piled high on your desk or in your office? This wastes time two different ways:
- A cluttered workspace causes people to not be able to focus on the task at hand.
- Finding the tools and items needed for a particular task is difficult.
- Electronically disorganized. I’ve seen people’s desktops so full of icons they can’t fit anymore. Likewise, I’ve seen “documents” folders packed with thousands of files and not a single sub-folder. Even with the search capabilities of modern computers, it can be difficult to find files you are looking for. Remembering to save documents, backing up digital information and keeping all of your devices in sync are other sources of disorganization.
- Systematically disorganized. Efficient businesses are ones who have systems and processes for all areas of their businesses: sales & marketing, accounting & financials, management and human resources. Businesses that lack well-defined systems and processes waste more time and don’t execute consistently.
When a business is able to become more organized and develop systems and processes, it makes for a dramatic shift in their efficiency. Suddenly, they understand the best and fastest way to approach problems and goals, and have clear plans for making progress. What does it take to become organized like this? I have a couple tips for you to try.
Where are you at right now?
This first task for becoming organized is to figure out which areas you need to focus on first. What seems to slow you down: having a cluttered workspace? Not having processes for a certain area of your business? Make a list of four or five areas that you’d like to improve upon.
Take one step at a time.
If you try to tackle everything at one time, you’re only going to end up frustrated. With your list of four or five areas you’d like to improve upon, which one would have the greatest impact in your business? Start with that particular area and stick with it until it’s complete. Then, move on to the next. If you want to accomplish it quickly, spend at least 10 minutes per day making progress.
Form a habit.
It takes a long time to climb a mountain and just a few seconds to fall all the way back down. If you want your new-found organizational skills to stick, form a habit out of them. One habit I have is the “touch-it-once rule.” If I pick up a piece of paper (or any physical item), I handle it immediately and file it away or throw it away when I’m done. This helps keep my workspace clean and organized at all times.
Stop wasting time in your business by being disorganized. Work on taking small steps to get organized in all areas of your business and I promise you’ll start seeing results.
My wife often makes fun of me for getting sidetracked and forgetting where I’m headed when I’m driving. I’ll be cruising along and miss a turn or even drive right past our destination. On long trips, I sometimes look at the road signs and think, “I don’t remember driving that last 30 miles.”
While that probably doesn’t happen to you, I bet you experience something similar during a normal week. One day you look at your calendar and think, “how is it already Friday?” Where did those other 4 days go? You’re pretty sure you lived through them, but if you think back, you can’t exactly remember what you did each day. Am I right?
I’ll let you in on the secret as to why our days tend to run together: we spend most of our time in reactive mode instead of proactive mode.
Reactive mode doesn’t always mean ‘taking care of emergencies and problems.’ You’re “reactive” if you’re:
- working on tasks that you’ve procrastinated on
- avoiding work that you don’t want to do but is vital to your progress and success
- spending time on meaningless activities instead of advancing your business
- having no plan at all to start the day
How much of your day is spent in these four categories? If we want to have a healthy, growing, successful, fun to work in business, we must spend the majority of our day in proactive mode. Here’s three techniques to help you get focused and become proactive.
#1. Write everything down.
It’s funny how we “forget” to do something when we don’t want to do something. “Dropping the ball,” as I like to call it, is the result of disorganization and procrastination. You can eliminate disorganization very easily; write everything down in ONE place. No little sticky notes or pieces of paper scattered all over. Get a three-ring binder or spiral notebook and keep ONE sheet of paper with a list of all your tasks for the week. Every time you get a new task, write it down immediately on that sheet.
#2. Start ahead of time.
Procrastinating, or not giving yourself enough time to complete work, leads to more procrastination and time spent in reactive mode. The deeper you dig your hole, the harder it will be to get out. You can avoid this cycle by starting projects ahead of time. Once you get all your “pain in the butt” work done, you’ll have more time to spend in proactive mode, working on things that you’re excited about and help you grow.
Think about this: success is nothing more than a compilation of doing many small things right over a period of time. The faster you get to work on doing those many small things right, the faster you will achieve the success you’re looking for.
#3. Follow up on status and details.
Don’t mark anything as “done” until you’re 100% sure it’s taken care of. Follow up with your client, your employee or your spouse about the task in question. Make sure no details were missed and that everything is resolved. By doing this, you’re reducing the chance that it will come back to bite you in the future. The more future problems we can eliminate, the more time we can spend in proactive mode.
With these simple steps, we can start to take control of our days and spend our time being proactive. Don’t allow your days, weeks and months to blend together anymore!
When you’re serious about taking control of your days and making the most of your time, consider purchasing my e-course “Scheduling Your Day Like a Pro.” It is an easy to implement, step-by-step process to help you get organized, become efficient and start seeing actual results in your business and life.
Building good relationships with customers starts by building great rapport with customers. Building good rapport simply means making your customers feel comfortable with you and making them WANT to do business with you. When you build great rapport with customers, you’re much more likely to get repeat business and referrals. In this short video, I’m sharing four secrets I personally use to build great customer rapport.
Growing your business through repeat business and referrals is much more cost effective and efficient than trying to market to new clients. Not only that, referrals from satisfied customers are more likely to be your ideal customers. When you’re casting your marketing net out to the general public, it tends to be more hit-or-miss.
When I started my first business, I didn’t know a single person in town. I was 23 years old, but I looked like I was 17. I went from business to business passing out my homemade business cards and asking if they needed help with their computer systems. Looking back, I’m not sure how anyone took me seriously. After weeks of being rejected, I was finally given the opportunity to work on computer systems for a couple of very small businesses.
Flash forward two years and I had more business than I could handle on my own. The best part was I grew my business to that point spending almost nothing on advertising. (Probably less than $200). It was all through word of mouth and repeat customers. I became very good at getting referrals, not just because of my technology skills, but also because of the way I treated clients.
Today, I want to share four secrets I used to get repeat business and referrals that you can also implement in your business!
Keep your customer list handy.
I frequently pull up my list of customers and scroll through them. I use this tactic to:
- Reach out to customers I haven’t heard from in a while. Check in on them and let them know you’re still around and care about the products or services you provided them.
- Inform customers of new products or services you have to offer that they may be interested in.
- Find out how I can help them if they run a business. I might know someone looking for their products or services that I could refer to them.
Ask your customers for referrals.
This one is a little uncomfortable at first. It may sound sleazy, but really all you’re offering is to provide your quality products and services to those who need what you do. Prepare how you’re going to ask for the referral ahead of time. You may say something like:
“Thank you for your business, Mr. Smith. I’m looking to provide more [insert your product or service here] for people who need it. If you have any friends or family that would be interested in what I do [or provide], I would love to help them out!”
You’ll find that people genuinely want to help people; especially if you’re providing them a quality product or service.
Leave customers with a business card.
This is one that many businesses overlook. It’s so simple, yet so effective. I can’t tell you how many times I would return to a customer’s home or business to work on their computer and see my business card sitting on their desk or taped to their computer.
Sure, I fixed computers so obviously they would put it next to their computer. No matter what business you’re in though, half of your customers will keep your business card safely stored. Then, when someone they know needs what your business offers, who’s information do you think they’re going to hand out?
Offer a small discount for repeat business or referrals.
Even if it’s only 10%, people love discounts. Offering a small incentive to get referrals or repeat business works. Just think if you own a plumbing business and your customers can get 10% off their next service call. That could be $20, $30 or even $40! Not only are they getting benefit, it’s a cheap way for you to gain more business.
Start implementing these four tactics as part of your business and you’ll be delighted at how quickly you can grow through repeat business and referrals!