March 1, 2024

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

Tick tock, tick tock: It's time to set boundaries

Ron Stein | 2/8/2015

No matter if you lead a big company or a small business, there’s one thing we all have in common. It’s time — or seemingly, the lack of it.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. It appears like you never have enough time to do everything on your list -- for your business as well as your family, not to mention yourself. You overpromise, are late to meetings, and stay up too late catching up on emails.

I know how you feel! For instance, every week I write this column for Florida Trend. It’s a passion and I’m committed to doing it. I know exactly when my column needs to be sent -- so, why do wait to last minute to crank it out? Worse, I almost always end up with a much longer piece than intended and that equates to taking longer to write than anticipated.

Running a business is stressful enough. The feeling that you’re constantly short of time to accomplish your goals only multiplies the pressure. Tick tock. Tick tock -- yikes!

However, I have learned to cope, even thrive in our time-starved world. You can too. The life of a business owner, executive, or entrepreneur doesn’t have to be stressful.

Once you realize that time is never really about the lack of time you’ll get more done and feel a lot better. The key is to set boundaries, understand priorities, and always assume that whatever you’ve planned will take more time than you thought it would.

Setting boundaries in a boundless world. It’s hard to turn others away when they need your help. It’s just as difficult to ignore an opportunity. Allow yourself to be interrupted and taken away from what’s important to you and here’s what happens. You start thinking about what you really should be doing. The other person or opportunity doesn’t get your full attention. And, you get more behind and more stressed. Set time “slots” for when you are available to work on current priorities and set times to respond to other matters, giving yourself some wiggle room. Be honest with others and yourself. Let people know that they are important and you’d like to schedule a better time later when they’ll have your undivided attention. Be realistic with yourself too about what happens when you get distracted from what’s important and overbook your time.

Zen-like focus on priorities. To-do lists are wonderful tools, yet are usually misused. If you haven’t set a handful of high-level priorities as a guide, then everything becomes a priority and nothing gets accomplished. As an example, I have five top ongoing priorities in my life -- my wife and family, my clients, marketing my business, the completion of a new marketing course, and having fun. Mostly in that order. This doesn’t mean I’ll act only on these, it’s just that when a task comes in I look to where it fits against them. If there is alignment with one or more then it goes on the high priority section of my to-do list for near-term action. For instance, taking time to book a hotel for an upcoming family event hits on two of my five guiding priorities. But, agreeing to meet for coffee with an ex-client who only wants to pick my brain for free does not and gets pushed out a few weeks to when my schedule is wide open.

Rule of Pi. This is one the simplest rules to implement even though it goes against human nature. Pi of course is equal to approximately 3.1416 and here’s how you use it. When you are planning a project, writing a column for a great business magazine, or committing to helping someone, first estimate the amount of time it will take. Now round off Pi and multiply by three. If you can’t afford that amount of time, either don’t do it, push the completion date out, or bring in someone to help you because we always underestimate the time we need. By the way, the rule of Pi works amazingly for other types of commitments. The next time your company offers a workshop and the salespeople commit to having a certain number of people there that day, just divide by three for what you can really expect!

It’s all about choices, not lack of time, and how important the task or project is to you. We are optimistic by nature and overpromise our time. The truth is that we persistently underestimate the time it takes to complete a task.

Get realistic and be practical about what any new commitments in front of you and what it will take for success. It’s your choice. You are in control. Sure, you might have to disappoint someone, but you’ll feel a lot less stressed and be happier getting a lot more done.


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com) and the author of the Rapid Impact Marketing & Selling Playbook. As a speaker, coach, and consultant he works with small business owners helping them to accelerate the path between their vision and the actions needed to reach, win, and keep customers. Ron is the creator of the FastPath to More Customers Now! 7-step marketing system based on more than twenty years as a successful business owner, corporate CEO, business development executive, and salesman. He is also a mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

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