Chet Holmes was such a great leader, who every time you spoke to him, you felt energized and motivated.
He constantly said his secret to success was his pig-headed discipline–and boy did he have that. In fact, he wanted to call his book, “the Pig-headed Executive”, but the publisher didn’t like the name and instead went with, “The Ultimate Sales Machine”. But after getting to know Chet and what he was about I think a major of his success was due to a softer skill. A skill that DOES take pig-headed discipline. It’s called pig-headed productivity.
I learned some many valuable business lessons and principles from him, but one of the most important ones I learned from him was the importance of guarding your time. He taught me (and anyone who ever worked for him) that some of the greatest killers of productivity are “gotta minute” meetings and other un-scheduled interruptions.
Have you ever, been in your office and had your co-working pop in and say, “hey, you got a minute?”. They come in sit down and you start discussing the topic right then and there. Seldom do these interruptions only last a minute, or 5 minutes, for that matter. What’s the net result? You don’t get your work finished.
I don’t know about you, but I have WAY more to do than is humanly possible for me to do, so I have to carefully pick and choose what I am going to spend my time on. What are the activities that will be the highest and best use of my time? What are the activities that are going to move me closer to my goals?
Because of Chet, I have really raised my awareness to importance of really valuing and guarding my time. I realized that every time I say yes to someone else’s schedule, I am saying no to my own.
I can tell you that taking, “gotta minute?” interruptions is going to significantly slow your progress down.
Chet taught me that these interruptions don’t just happen via pop-in office visits, they also take form in emails and phone calls.
Phone calls for me are especially destructive. For the most part I know exactly what I’m going to be working on during a block of hours during each day. I have it written in my journal sitting right next to me.
The problem with taking these types of interruptions is you become a slave to someone else’s agenda you are on their schedule and are part of their outcomes — not yours.
You become reactive versus proactive.
Most entrepreneur haven’t taken the time to truly understand the impact of being reactive. Starting and stopping from your original agenda creates a deficiency in “flow“… You know those times when you are in the zone and are fully immersed in what you are doing. Every time you stop to ‘chat’ or check email or some other distraction, it takes time to get back into the zone.
This transition time from switching back to what you were working on adds up over time and really impacts your productivity.
I have friends that frequently call me during the day to say hi and chit chat. I very seldom answer these calls during this time because I have preplanned activities that take massive amounts of concentration. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to him. It’s that I don’t want to talk to him during my peak productive work time. When I get off the phone it takes me too long to get motivated and back in the groove again.
Emails are just as dangerous.
Honestly, how many times do you check your email a day?
Of the emails you take time out your day to check, how many of them are actually important? In addition, how many of them can you actually take action on right then and there? (if you haven’t planned time). If you don’t take action right then and there then you have wasted your time reading them.
Let’s say you read 100 emails that require some sort of action and you are only able to handle 50 of them right then and there, but don’t have the time to take care of the rest of the tasks at that moment. What you have done is invested the amount of time it took read the emails but with ACTION-LESS results. In the end, since you weren’t able to handle right then, you are going to have to go back and review and refresh yourself before handling them — which creates duplicity of effort.
So what can you do?
Here are a couple of principles I have adopted from Chet:
1.) Email subject lines. Chet had a rule that whenever we sent Chet an email, we would have to put the essence of the email in subject line. This would allow the receiver to scan and decide if they wanted to and had the time to deal with that right then and there. If you have coworkers or employees ask them to write informative email subject lines. I often times put the desired action as well, “call me after reading this 15page ebook on SEO”… Try this it works wonders!
2.) Calendar everything. Every time I wanted to speak to Chet, I would have to call Sherry, his executive assistant and schedule an appointment with him. Details to require: time needed, agenda and outcome. I personally don’t use my assistant to schedule appointments and instead use a service called tungle.me.
2.5) Don’t do lunch meetings. I’m not as stringent on this but I remember one time I was going to be in Northern California near Chet’s home and I scheduled an appointment to go to lunch when I came up there and he told me, “I don’t do lunches…ever…that is my prime productive time and don’t do lunches”
As I am getting older, I am realizing more and more the importance of time management and how it impacts every other area of your life. It’s you life, your goals and your dreams so guard them like a pitbull and don’t let anyone enroll you into their agenda and their outcomes.