America’s Leadership Expert : Get Things Done

Clay Staires: This is Clay Staires America’s Leadership Expert with Tulsa Business Leadership in Podcast number 32, Five Steps to Getting Things Done: The Magic of Time Management. Again, my name is Clay Staires with Tulsa Business Leadership, I get the opportunity to travel across the country as well as working with business owners and entrepreneurs that are right here in my area. Spending time with them, helping them grow their businesses.

So many of them are in a space where they have started up and it has been high energy, high emotions, things have gone really well but over the long haul they have found over and over that the management of their business has become overwhelming to them. They’ll give me a call, we’ll start meeting and the very first thing that we’ll find out is when I give them an assignment of something to do and we get together the second week, invariably they will say, “Uh, I didn’t have time. I wasn’t able to get it done. We had this go on. I had that go on. A person didn’t show up so I had to do this.” And immediately we tap into one of their primary barriers.

One of the primary limiting factors of what I have found with Clay Stairs at Tulsa Business Leadership is time management with leaders. I’ve also seen this with managers and team leaders and so on but it’s being able to manage our time. We hear that the very first person that you have to learn how to lead is yourself and I am a firm believer that to begin this self leadership we have to start with leading our time. Making good decisions on how we’re going to spend our time.

At Clay Staires America’s Leadership Expert Tulsa Business Leadership I’ve spent a lot of time in my own life feeling like, oh I don’t have time. I can’t get that done. There’s not enough this and there’s not enough that, using that as an excuse to not get the things done that I needed to do. For me in my situation there was probably two problems going on. Number one, I didn’t know what to do and number two, I didn’t feel like I had the time or the resources to get those things done.

What I want to do today in this podcast with Clay Staires Tulsa  America’s Leadership Expert Business Leadership is to talk about the five steps that I have learned to get things done. It’s a big part of the magic of time management. I say magic of time management because I actually do have a friend named Lee Cockerell who used to run Walt Disney World and has a book called Time Management Magic.

I got a phone call just the other day, I was speaking with a business owner that was in Louisiana I believe and she was saying, “Clay I need help recruiting. If I had more people I could grow. I know that that’s the problem but for some reason it just doesn’t get done in the midst of everything else that I need to do. I know that I need to recruit but I just never can get it done.” What we began to talk about on that phone call was pretty much just her time management and getting things done that need to get done.

We started out with step number one which was simply creating a list of things that you know need to get done. It’s your To-do list. Again, some people get a little intimidated by creating this To-do list, no need to freak out, we just want to get it out of your head and onto paper. What I do with my system is I begin, I use an Excel spreadsheet because I like that. You don’t have to do that, but I do recommend some sort of digital copy of your To-do list. The reason why I go digital on this is because it makes it very easy to cut, to paste, to transfer, to delete and keep things moving forward. If you have it all written on paper then those papers you can get a whole lot of pieces of paper in your hand and a lot of scribbles and you can loose touch with a lot of it.

I use a digital copy with my master To-do list, it is simply an Excel spreadsheet. America’s Leadership Expert The first thing that we do is create the list of things that you know you need to do. The things that you are responsible for. Also what I do with mine is I break it into categories. I don’t just have one extremely long list, but I break mine into categories. For instance, I’ll have a category of work related things. Since I have a number of different companies, I will have a To-do list for each of my companies.

Also, because I have a number of people that are reporting to me, I have a To-do list for each of those people that are reporting to me. Things that I need to do for them. Things that I said in a meeting, “Hey I will do that, I will get that to you.” Another category that I will have in my To-do list would be things like financial management. My own personal financial management, financial planning. Another thing might be home, things that you know that you need to do around the house or things with your family. Your health and fitness, again, there can be any number of different categories that you may have here and I strongly suggest that you have these different categories rather than just a long list. It will help you find these To-dos on a daily basis.

First of all, we have created a list. Now that we have this list created, we move to step number two where we get the list onto your schedule. It’s another huge piece of my time management, America’s Leadership Expert I call it my daily steering wheel, is every singly morning I print off my schedule for that day. Then what I do is look at my To-do list and I choose which To-dos I’m going to do that day and I actually schedule the time that I’m going to do them. This again is a very common mistake that people make. They have a long list of To-dos that they want to get done but they never schedule it. They never take the time to take a look at those activities and really determine how long those activities are going to take.

I’ve seen it happen very often where people will have 10, 15 things they try to get done in a day and when they add up the time to get those 10 things done, it’s actually going to take them about nine hours to get it done, just to get the To-dos done. Much less get their other work done. They have set themselves up from the very beginning to fail because the amount of time to get the things done is not the time that they have. We have to make sure that the time allotted for each of these To-dos is understood and we plug our To-do into a slot of time where we can actually get the thing done. It’s a very important step.

Then we move to step number three. America’s Leadership Expert What we want to begin to do is identify recurring activities, things that you know that you do on a daily basis or a weekly basis. You want to identify those things. I know for me there are a number of things that I need to do every single day. There are also things that I know need to happen every single week and so on with each month and each quarter and each year. I just know that they have to get done so what I do with my calendar when I plug things in with Tulsa Business Leadership, I plug these activities in and just hit recur. Okay, for a recurring item that is going to repeat itself over and over and over and then I can leave it alone. Each morning once again, I can just go to my computer and pick up my calendar and bam there it is right there, it’s already on the schedule.

Number four, the fourth step that we’re going to do is lock in these recurring activities every day, week, quarter, month and year. Okay, again that’s an important thing that you put them into our calendar and then put them on some type of repeating cycle so they are automatically locked in for you. Again, we want to get this out of your head. At Tulsa Business Leadership this is a key thing that we do with each of the leaders that we coach and each of the business owners that we work with, is we help them design their daily steering wheel so they can get where they want to get in the amount of time that they have. Again, very very common problem that people have.

Then finally our fifth step is you simply want to follow the schedule all right. Chet Holmes, the author of The Ultimate Sales Machine, talks about using your pig headed determination. I call that using your PhD. Without a PhD you cannot get things done. America’s Leadership Expert Without a PhD you will not be successful. Without a PhD you will always have an excuse to not achieve the success that you want to achieve and then people will talk to me about what this PhD is, I say, “It’s your pig headed determination.”

This is one of the key things that I find with time management issues that leaders have, is that they have a schedule. They have To-do lists but they allow daily activities, this isn’t just every now and then because I know every now and then happens, but every single day almost every single hour of every singly day, they will allow people and situations to knock them off of their plan. Knock them off of their schedule, the classic, “Hey you got a minute to talk?” Sure come on in and that minute never lasts a minute. It always lasts a good ten. Or if the phone rings or I if I get an email or just keep going on and on and on with things that can so easily distract us.

I remember having to steal myself during the day and use my pig headed determination to stay focused on my schedule. When people said, “Hey Clay, do you got a minute?” No I don’t, no I don’t. I’m busy, close the door, lock the door. Don’t let people break into your schedule. Again, life will happen. There will be times where emergencies come up and you have to go handle them, but if this is something that is going on a daily basis where you cannot stick with your schedule, then there is a problem with boundaries and you maintaining your pig headed determination.

Once again this is Clay Staires America’s Leadership Expert with Tulsa Business Leadership talking about the five steps to getting things done, the magic of time management.

Clay Staires