In order to become a successful leader, it’s vital to develop strong time management skills to stay organized and move forward. When business gets busy and you’re trying to lead, things can seem overwhelming and it can become easy to fall behind.
If you want to grow and lead, it’s important to be aware of how you spend your time, who you make commitments to and how often you keep those commitments, and how well you communicate with those you want to lead.
Finding a balance between work and play is a hard task when you are working toward excellent leadership. You have to determine how much time should be designated to family, work and leisure, allowing yourself enough time to maintain and grow all relationships, as well as take care of your mind and body.
We constantly recommend agents and leaders to analyze their lives and time management skills as they stand, in order to help them change and move forward. We encourage this analysis through the four quadrants, a map that helps you categorize your tasks in order of importance.
Doing this shows you where you waste the most time and where you don’t spend enough time, making you aware of your time management faults. Being aware of these shortcomings will help you grow and become a better leader.
We have three tips to offer that will help you grow into the leader you want to be.
- Be organized– Don’t overbook your schedule. Make time for the things that are important in your life and have those things prioritized. Make time for family and business, even if that means cutting out an hour of TV each night. Don’t waste a lot of time on unimportant things – all leaders only get 24 hours each day. Your success depends on how you maximize those 24 hours.
- Be dependable– Don’t overcommit. Keep track of commitments you make and be sure only to make commitments you can keep. The quickest way to become an untrustworthy leader is to repetitively let people down. Keep track of your calendar and what you are realistically able to commit to – commit to nothing more. Building a reputation for keeping commitments and being genuine will gain more followers and the trust of your current followers. Ignoring this important aspect of leadership will stunt your growth.
- Be current– Don’t get behind. Sift through emails and voicemails, spending time on important messages and skimming through unimportant ones. Don’t let your inbox pile up with hundreds of messages before you check them – pay them their due respect in a timely fashion, addressing only the ones that need addressing. Staying on top of messages will alleviate stress in the long run. Ten minutes today is better than three hours at the end of the month.
Applying these simple methods to your lifestyle will help you propel forward in your path to leadership. Without getting past these obstacles, it’s difficult to become the successful leader you aim to be. Stay encouraged and motivated to become the person you want to be. It takes hard work to be successful, so don’t get lazy!
Whether you’re traveling to National Agents Alliance’s Leadership Convention or on the road to meet with clients and attend meetings, it’s easy to get caught up in the drag of traveling. But, there is an upside to frequent travel, as you can fit in more “me-time” while on the road.
CBS News reveals the top four ways you can make business travel less grueling:
- Bring a good book: At NAA we advise all of our agents to read, and what’s a better time than when you’re sitting on a plane and the flight attendants ask you to turn off all electronic devices? That time period is when you could get in at least 30 minutes of reading time. Also, when you’re sitting at the airport or waiting for a taxi are also good opportunities to read a couple pages.
- Call your friends: Haven’t had time to catch up with your old college buddy or call your grandmother, whose birthday was last month—here’s your chance! When you’re sitting at a hotel with nothing better to do, grab the phone and start making those calls you’ve been meaning to make.
- Exercise: Most hotels have a gym and a pool that you can take advantage of by swimming laps to get your exercise in. You can also go for a brisk walk and check out the scenery of the city you are visiting.
- Watch that TV show you’ve been meaning to: If you never have time to watch television and are up late at night because of jet lag or have an hour between meetings, take that time to sit down, relax and watch TV.
When you woke up this morning were you on the right side or the wrong side of the bed? By choosing what side you woke up on as soon as your start your day, you will determine what thoughts and actions will proceed with the rest of your day.
According to the author of “Practice Power: 12 Steps to Take Your Business to the Next Level,” Joe Lukacs, believed that the most important “success habit” is to have a “morning success ritual.” This is where you start your day with a positive tone, which ultimately creates a positive day.
Lukacs reveals that a powerful morning success ritual includes:
- Positive visualization
- Morning power questions
- Review of business plan
- Positive mental diet
- Creating your daily game plan
If you start your day by tackling your inbox and to-do list, without arranging your thoughts and outlook, you will see less activity and results. Lukacs believes that if you make the morning success ritual apart of your morning routine you will be able to power through your day and achieve more results.
National Agents Alliance wants to know if you have any “success rituals” or “morning success rituals,” comment below and tell us about them!
The top mentors at National Agents Alliance teach important mindset principles, one of which is that how you start your day sets the tone for how the rest of the day will go. When you check emails before you’re little more than half-awake, you are letting others control you and your thinking at a crucial time of the day.
Your time upon waking is an important time to reflect on the blessings in your life, and a great time to plan your day in a positive way. At this influential time of the day, you don’t need someone forwarding bad news or anything that may draw your attention from a positive routine. Don’t let someone else’s needs take precedence over our own; keep control of your own special time, and dictate your day as it will work best for you.
Maintain good time management practices by focusing on YOUR day, not what someone else thinks your day should be. Before going to your email inbox, use this early morning time for writing out a list of all your projects and to-do’s for the day, prioritizing the top three or four. Focus your attention on what’s most important for the day, set aside thirty minutes to an hour for those tasks, and make sure your calendar reflects that. This is the most important time on your schedule for the day…nothing replaces that time and allow no interruptions!
Now, after your focused planning of the day, go on with your routine…exercise, shower, dress, read, breakfast or even a stop at the coffee shop…whatever you like to do in the morning. Just following Andy Albright’s 8 Steps to Success will give you some great things to do in the morning that are far better than letting someone else get in your head before 7 a.m.! And, guess what? After you take care of your own needs, the text messages and emails will still be there, and the sender won’t even know at what time you read them!
In recently speaking with some big producers at National Agents Alliance I was in a position to overhear some great ideas that motivate daily activity. Remember, these are the agents who have already made the leader boards and have climbed the commission scales, so people listen when they speak.
The discussion centered on not only goal-setting but also how to incentivize the process.
Here is the process: Write a contract with yourself that outlines the exact action steps you will commit to for the next week. Follow that with an agreement with yourself that for each item on the contract that you fail to complete by the end of the week you will rip up two dollars. Sign the contract, date it, and place it where you will see it multiple times a day.
What kinds of things do these leaders have on their “contract with themselves?” They write out statements like “I will read one motivational book this week,” or “I will make three sales this week,” or “I will prospect for recruits for ten hours,” or “I will exercise four times.” And then conclude with the most important statement: “For each task I don’t complete I will rip up two dollars.”
Tearing up money is never fun and can be painful, but to be successful requires a competitive drive. Successful people never like to lose. They don’t like to finish in second place. They’re good at setting a purpose, assigning a date for completion and following through to avoid any penalty for failure.
Many people set very lofty goals with a far-off deadline. These contracts deal with short-term, only week-long goals with very specific activities; the little things that must be done regularly to achieve big results. All too often the “big” goals are put on hold. With this weekly program, you should place the contract all over the house and office, creating a visual reminder of what must be done daily.
Your reward for success will be higher production (and commissions!) and, for failure, immediate punishment (tearing up two dollars). Leaders at National Agents Alliance love to compete and hate to tear up money, even if it’s only two dollars! So, challenge yourself like the leaders do. Devise your own game; compete with yourself, and you’ll see a rise in your level of motivation.
The most common time-waster is procrastination. Leaders at National Agents Alliance defeat procrastination the same way a race horse is forced to focus straight ahead – they put blinders on. By staying focused on their goals, their most important “why,” they never let common distractions knock them off course.
When polled, our top income earners give this advice: “Tackle your most important or difficult task first thing in the morning.” Getting the most important things done early in the day frees up your creativity to design a great day, week, and life. There is nothing weighing on your mind and holding you back from being what you want to be.
In a planning session with CEO, Andy Albright, the most experienced agents listed the major do’s and don’ts of top producers:
- Talking too long on the phone – don’t let someone waste your precious time
- Too much time browsing social media sites – save it for later
- Always preparing but not taking action – make a plan and take action
- Failing to say no to unrelated tasks and people – learn to say no if the request is not in your best interest
- Failing to ask for help or delegating to others – you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything
- Waiting until late in the day to do tasks – get the important things done first
- Focusing on smaller, less important tasks – hire someone else to do the mundane
- Schedule phone calls with end times when possible
- Set a certain time AND a time limit for non-task-related Internet browsing
- Plan your most important tasks and schedule them early
- Make a SHORT daily to-do list and say no to tasks not on that list
- Set deadlines and alarms for you to complete tasks – STICK TO THE SCHEDULE
- Close your Internet browser or unrelated windows to avoid distraction
- Place your phone on “Do Not Disturb”
It looks easy but most people do NOT master these skills. However, if you look at the National Agents Alliance leader boards every week, you’ll find the agents listed there are masters of their time. To be a high-producing professional agent you need to take charge of your daily schedule, defeat the temptation to procrastinate, and you’ll create a bigger income and more free time.
What could you really accomplish if you had four more hours every single day? If you study the leader boards you’ll find out those agents leading the way at National Agents Alliance follow many of the suggestions below.
Let’s say you create a plan for 30 days.
This mental fast involves some personal discipline but the results will astound you. Not only will you end up with more time to do all the things you have to do and want to do, but you will have more energy than you have had since you were a teenager on the go.
Let’s say you decide to follow the following eight steps to create more time, energy and success:
- No TV or Radio – This is a hard one for most people, but it’s crucial. TV is a big time waster, with little real value.
- No newspapers – You won’t miss much when you give up newspapers. Just like the TV news shows, newspapers are mostly negative. Remember the old song with these lyrics: “…bad news on the doorstep.”
- Avoid negative people – Extremely important! Negative people sap energy from us, and you don’t want anything to affect the positive attitude necessary for success.
- Listen to motivational & educational CD’s – Make your car a rolling university. Listen to positive messages and instruction from the masters of selling, including top producers in National Agents Alliance.
- Read & reflect for 30 minutes a day – Done at the start or end of the day, this time is valuable for focusing on what’s really important in our lives and most people are in too big a rush to stop and think.
- Exercise daily – Helps in clearing your mind, increases your energy and helps maintain discipline in your daily life.
- Drink water – Most people are dehydrated. Water cleans out toxins and helps control your appetite.
- Take some high-quality nutritional supplements – Because you work for yourself, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Take care of your health.
You will find that the most successful people in all industries, including at National Agents Alliance, follow these principles.
Radio, TV, Newspapers and some people give us nothing but negative vibes. AND, you will be amazed at how much time those things eat up out of our day. You will have more mental clarity and energy than you thought possible if you follow this program for just 30 days. GUARANTEED!!!
If you are having trouble finishing all your tasks, and generally have a feeling of always being overwhelmed, here is a solution for you: Deadlines!
Yes, deadlines. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? A deadline is a time commitment you make to yourself, and it can absolutely revolutionize your business.
You’ve probably heard of Parkinson’s Law which states “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Mr. Parkinson developed this understanding by studying a bureaucracy where the employees had very little incentive to complete their work in a timely manner. They didn’t really care if the job got done today or tomorrow or even next week, and the system wasn’t set up with leadership pushing them either. So if you have eight hours to complete a two-hour task, the job will automatically increase in complexity and get tougher to complete. You just proved Parkinson’s Law!
That’s not how the winners work. They always work with a self-imposed deadline (or the boss demands a deadline). The winners never give in to Parkinson’s Law.
Winners set deadlines for everything. They love the challenge to perform under the pressure of the clock. They treat the deadline as an unbreakable commitment; they make it like a competition, not against someone else, but their to-do list against the clock. What they don’t do is start their work day by spending 20-30 minutes checking their email. That task gets a deadline too, no more than five minutes; once the to-do list is done you can spend some time checking emails, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here are some suggestions:
- Make out your list with most important tasks first
- Set a realistic deadline for each goal
- Begin each task with a sense of urgency
If this has been a problem in the past and you want to really challenge yourself, once you have your list and have determined how much time it will take to complete the entire list, cut the time in half. Don’t let this mean sloppy or incomplete work, but really push yourself to get things done quickly. You’ll learn to focus your efforts, avoid time wasters and make your workday shorter and more enjoyable. You will be much more productive without feeling stressed.
Remember these important thoughts:
- Deadlines represent commitment
- Deadlines enforce accountability
- Deadlines create a sense of urgency
Look yourself in the mirror and commit to meet every deadline. You’ll be able to say “Life is good with National Agents Alliance!”