Of course you played the game. A silly face pops up, WHACK. Then another. WHACK. No matter how good and how fast you are, there’s always another mole leering at you, begging to be whacked.
Odds are you also lead a whack-a-mole business life.
Let me ask you a question, which may not appear to be, but is related to the whack-a-mole lifestyle. Do you think you suffer from ADHD? It’s a question I often ask groups. Generally a significant number of hands go up.
My reply is always: “No you don’t. There is no such thing. There’s not a shred of evidence that such a disease exists. What you suffer from instead is bad work habits.”
Specifically, those bad work habits are: (a) multitasking; (b) unstructured day; and (c) little or no administrative system.
I recently read a marvelous McKinsey Quarterly article, which I recommend strongly to you. You can get a copy of “Recovering from Information Overload” from my time management website. The article was subtitled, “Always-on, multitasking work environments are killing productivity, dampening creativity, and making us unhappy.”
I could not agree more.
Just consider what your day looks like. You come in with the goal to write an important proposal. Your biggest client, Nellie Nirvous, calls. She needs handholding.
Just as you start talking with her, you get an alert on your cell phone about some investment or other you’re following. Your cell phone dings with a text message from your assistant, reminding you that your proposal is due this afternoon. The multitasking activity stream now reaches flood stage.
And then you wonder why you can’t sleep well at night, why you’re so tired and why you feel at the end of the day you didn’t accomplish what you wanted.
Even before tweets, instant messaging, emails and Facebook, I nailed down some vital time management principles. I incorporated these into what I called “The Model Day.”
When I studied what advisors (then called “brokers”) did with their time, I discovered that an hour of time was worth $1,000, so long as it was spent meeting with and talking to clients and prospects.
But most advisors were barely spending any time doing what they came into the industry to do in the first place. By working backward from this fact, I discovered that by grouping similar activities into their own time frame, I could dramatically increase client contact. And that of course, resulted in increased revenue. There is no doubt whatsoever about the correlation between face time and revenue.
I called each one of these time blocks a “mini-day.”
A mini-day is a block of time devoted to a single type of activity. It has a start and an end, much like a 24-hour day. When it’s over, it’s over. When your two-hour “Proposal Writing Day” is done, it’s done. When you know you can’t have any more time to complete that proposal than two hours, you will get it done.
By grouping similar activities into their own time frame, and by excluding dissimilar activities (text messages, alerts, emails, calls, people dropping by your office, tweets, calls from your daughter), you now have the luxury to create momentum.
You have heard the expression, “So-and-so is on a roll.” What does that mean? It means that he or she is focused and is doing one similar action right after another.
With a whack-a-mole lifestyle, you cannot get or stay on a roll.
The Unstructured Day
The second in the cast of characters for your whack-a-mole lifestyle is the unstructured day. Imagine a spectrum, similar to a color spectrum. Somewhere on the spectrum is your day: