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How to Manage the MVP in Your Organization...You!

How to Manage the MVP in Your Organization...You!

April 27, 2008

Manage yourself like a precious resource

For some of my clients, success never felt so bad.

When they first come to me, they tell me about how they feel like they're 'drowning.' They tell me about how they lay awake at nights because they can't sleep thinking about all the things they have to get done. Marketing and advertising promotions are running late. Bills are going unpaid. Sales are going unfulfilled. Leads aren't being followed up on like they should. Meanwhile, sales keep growing and the to-do list keeps getting longer. They've got too much to do and not enough time to do it all.

They feel stuck!

They're drowning under the wave of phone calls, emails, letters, requests, memos and questions. At the same time, they also tell me about all the great opportunities that they can't work on because of all the other demands. 'My head is spinning,' one client told me.

Sound familiar?

Fortunately, I have a few solutions that have worked for my clients for years that have helped them manage themselves like a precious resource.

Tip #1: Begin with what matters most

I begin with this question: 'Tell me the first thing you do when you get up and go in to your office.'

Usually I get a response that goes something like this: 'Well, the first thing I do is I check my voicemail; because there are a lot of people trying to get a hold of me, and there are always issues that are timely that I have to deal with. Then, I check my email. And I usually have to put out a few fires based on the emails and voicemails I got that morning. Then I check my mail and there are usually bills and customer service issues that I have to address. And then I don't get to the things that I planned to do until it's very late in the day. I usually can't wait for everyone to leave so I can get my work done. I work late into the night expecting that it will be better the next day, but it never gets better.'

That's what most entrepreneurs do. Some even pride themselves on their late nights and long hours.

That's not the life I want! And I don't think most people want that either. But they don't know any other solution, and they struggle to find a balance between work and life.

It begins with your first 'click'

The key is to take control. I know it's easier said than done. But it begins with the first 'click' of the day. There's one click that's more important than any other click ' and it's the first one in your day.

For most people, their first click is email or voicemail. That's the wrong click.

Instead your first click of the day must be to set your mental framework and organize yourself. You have to be clear on what your priorities are and what your accountabilities are, and then manage only according to that. Everything else can be built in blocks of time. This is the only way that you'll ever escape the information overload. Prioritize first, act second. Focus on the things that are most important to you.

If sales is most important, your first click may include having breakfast with a prospect or spending 30 minutes training a sales person.

Now, if you're like most of my clients, you're probably still thinking that you've got to jump on your email or you'll be left with 120 messages at the end of the day. I'm not suggesting that; I do, however, recommend that you set aside certain times of the day when you will look at your email. I usually schedule 11 A.M. and 4 P.M. as the times I set aside specifically to respond to email.

Tip #2: Create a 'Golden Hour'

Here's the next question I ask my clients: 'What's the best time of day for you to be super productive? Morning, afternoon, or evening?' Set aside one hour a day at that time to focus on your most important goals ' this is your 'Golden Hour.' For example, some highly successful marketing people always write for the first hour of every day. A salesman may allocate 1:30-2:30 every day for making sales calls. What will you do with your golden hour?

But I need to come back to a very important point I made earlier: Focus on what's most important. This is the root of making the most of your first click and your 'Golden Hour.' Use that hour each day to leverage your talents and skills so you're dedicating a portion of your time and energy to what matters most. That one hour will reap huge dividends for you.

Tip #3: Create new habits

I'm talking of course about replacing your old habits with new habits that will help you manage yourself like a precious resource. Most people simply accept their bad habits as a reflection of who they are. But that's wrong. We aren't born with bad habits. They develop over time. We can actually change our habits ' we can break bad habits and we can create good ones. But it does take time.

During a four-month period you can change six habits. Each habit will take approximately 21 days. Let me walk you through how it works.

Do you know what happens if you spend your whole life focusing on your weaknesses? You simply end up with a bunch of strong weaknesses.

Write down the areas where you have the greatest opportunities and biggest payoffs. These are the areas where you can make great strides in your life and business. Which of these things are you personally going to focus on? Which things can you begin to work on to develop momentum?

Work on those things that will give you the greatest payoffs and the greatest pleasure. You may need more sales, but you don't seem to have time to make the sales calls. You know that it'll pay off for the business; it's something that leverages your skills and you enjoy it. So make it a habit to spend your Golden Hour each day making 4 sales calls each day for 21 days.

Find those activities that will help you leverage your core competency. If your core competency is in marketing, start a new habit of working on a marketing piece each day for one hour.

Some people will try to spend their 'Golden Hour' focusing on those areas in which they are weak.

This kind of focus often leads only to frustration. Begin by working on the areas where you will have great success. Then build on that.

If you have been missing deadlines and showing up late, change your 'planning habit.' Try showing up 10 minutes early for 21 days and see what a dramatic difference that will make.

Keep a Habit Builder Journal. Write down each day how it went with your new habit. You'll be shocked that at the end of three weeks you will have accomplished something that you previously thought unimaginable. Don't start with the hardest things. That's what most people do. It's like all the people on New Year's Eve who promise to lose weight and exercise every day. After the first week they went once to the gym and gave up.

Instead, start small with something that will give you pleasure. The idea is to gradually build momentum by focusing on small changes in the first several months and then gradually shift your focus to bigger changes that will payoff for you in business and in life.