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How Managers Can Get the Most out of Every Day

Friday, January 30, 2009
By Anne Kramer

All owners and managers dream of that ideal day, where they spend most of their time making long-term plans, building relationships with staff and clients, and training employees to take on more responsibilities. This business utopia does not include long hours in meetings or wading through an inbox. And unfortunately, this utopia does not exist: managers and owners find themselves constantly pulled in multiple directions and playing innumerable roles. By maintaining a clear focus and planning deliberately, however, it is possible to increase productivity exponentially.

1. Establish a clear vision. This requires setting both long-term (five year) and short-term (six months to one year) goals. These goals should clearly govern all decisions and actions.
  • Choose an inspiring vision. It should provide motivation to persevere and work harder.
  • A well-crafted vision provides a definitive path for growth and development.
  • It is important to commit to a vision by writing it down, along with the steps necessary to achieve it.
  • As a business evolves, it is necessary to re-evaluate visions and goals, so that they are still relevant and challenging.
2. Decide which activities are necessary to accomplish each goal. Generally some weeding out is necessary here. Ten minutes of reflective list-making can help with this:

  • List all current projects.
  • List all roles that are necessary, both in personal and professional life.
  • List everything that is missing in either domain. This could be time to develop a new product idea or participate in a hobby.
  • Prioritize the list, according to long-term vision. The most important projects and roles are those that will make the greatest impact on vitality and success in business and relationships.
3. Break down activities into specific, measurable steps.
  • A day ahead of time, make a list of no more than six of these to accomplish.
  • Set aside two hours per day for these tasks, during which phone calls and emails go unanswered.
  • Whatever activities do not get finished during that block become the first priority the following day.
4. Set aside at least one hour per day for generating income. These activities may be closely related to other items on the list, but should be more tightly focused on items like marketing and customer contact.

Despite filling multiple demanding roles on a daily basis, business owners and managers often neglect to manage their own time. Through establishing clear vision and goals, balancing priorities, and taking specific, deliberate action each day, it is possible to jumpstart productivity. This routine of evaluation and action will drastically improve effectiveness and profitability.

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