Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu March 26 2015

Opinion Home | Your Full Potential, Reached. Be NEX!

  • Cris De Souza | March 26, 2015 4:00 PM ET

    9 Spring Cleaning Tips for Making Space in Your Day

    9 Spring Cleaning Tips for Making Space in Your Day

    PHOTO: Courtesy of Thinkstock.

    Now that the weather is slowly warming and flowers are beginning to bloom, it’s a great time of the year to do some “spring cleaning” with the most important part of your business – how you spend your time. One of the most precious commodities we have in our day is our time, and we often have many non-productive things cluttering up our time and our “head-space,” as I like to call it. 

    We’ve all taken time management classes, and most of us use some kind of planner or scheduling system to organize, prioritize and schedule our days. The problem with these tools is they only measure “clock time” and not “real time.” 

    In real time, all time is relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you're doing. Two hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles can feel like 12 years. And yet our 12-year-old children seem to have grown up in only two hours.

    The good news is that real time is mental. It exists between your ears. You create it. Anything you create, you can manage. It's time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around "not having enough time," or today not being "the right time" to start a new business development project or to manage your current group business more effectively.

    I read a book recently by David Allen called “Getting Things Done,” and the author argues that there are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions. Regardless of the type of business you own, your work will be composed of those three items. As an entrepreneur, you may be frequently interrupted or pulled in different directions. While you cannot eliminate interruptions, you do get a say on how much time you will spend on them and how much time you will spend on the thoughts, conversations and actions that will lead you to success.

    Joe Mathews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival of Entrepreneur Magazine came up with nine tips to help us achieve more effective time management. I used many of these tips for the past seven days myself (those with an *), and the outcome was transformative for me, so I invite you to give some of these tips a try for the next 21 days, as this is the magic number that turns new behavior into a habit:

    Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going. You'll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions. (*)

    Any activity or conversation that's important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they are unworkable. Appointment books work. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations and actions. Schedule when they will begin and end. Have the discipline to keep these appointments. (*)

    Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results.

    Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you're doing. Take, for instance, the concept of having "office hours." Aren’t "office hours" another way of saying "planned interruptions?" (*)

    Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don't start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time. (*)

    Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what's missing in your next call or activity? (*)

    Put up a "Do not disturb" sign when you absolutely have to get work done. (*)

    Block out other distractions such as Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.

    Remember that it's impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results.

    I challenge you to take just three of these ideas and practice it for 21 days straight; you will be surprised at the results! I guarantee it! Watch for my upcoming blog where we’ll explore some business development ideas you can test out after you’ve completed your “spring cleaning” and made more time in your day for what matters most in your business, which is business development!

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Cris De Souza Your Full Potential, Reached. Be NEX!

Cris De Souza Cris De Souza is the vice president of sales and marketing for Nexion, a fully licensed, bonded and accredited host agency with operations in both the U.S. and Canada. In her role, De Souza leads Nexion’s sales, marketing, communications and business development and education teams. De Souza joined the Nexion leadership team in 2015 and has been a part of the travel industry for 16 years, including a 13-year career with the Royal Caribbean family of brands in a variety of revenue, sales, marketing and education roles, with increasing responsibility and scope. Throughout her career, she has proven success building and managing strategic partnerships and teams, developing innovative travel agent training and education programs, creating effective travel agent marketing and sales strategies, and achieving sales goals and objectives. De Souza is an advocate of sustainable tourism, volunteerism and cultural heritage preservation and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University. She is also a 2013 graduate scholarship recipient from Tourism Cares and served as a speaker during the 2013 International Ecotourism Society Conference in Kenya, Africa. Nexion is a branch of Tzell Travel Group, a Travel Leaders Group company.
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