In today’s edition of The Transition Guy, we are going to be covering the default diary. This is a follow on from the Steven Covey’s Time Matrix edition, so make sure that you’ve covered that first. So we’re back on time and the first question I want to ask you as business owners and entrepreneurs is do you have a robust diary in place? I.e. do you have set times for set things? The chances are the answer to that is no. In fact, you most probably operate a very inefficient diary without even realizing it because guess what? Most people do and the reality is that means you don’t make the best use of your time and then you wonder why you don’t have time. So if we take the Covey Matrix, what did we look at? We looked at eliminating the stuff you shouldn’t be doing. Now we need to look at the stuff that you should be doing and boxing it so we are most efficient.

The world we live in today is full of interruptions.

How often do you do a task and live in the world of interruptions? Whether it’s our team interrupting us, whether it’s our phone, our inbox – the reality is we constantly get interrupted. Imagine this, you’re doing a task and it takes you a little while to really become in flow with that task and when I mean in flow, actually doing it at a really proficient level and then someone comes and they interrupt you. You then stop doing that task, you deal with the interruption and then you try and go back to that task. How long does it take you to pick up where you left off? Well if you’re a woman, it’s going to be quite quick. If you’re a man, it’ll be anything between 10 and 15 minutes because the way that we get back into our flow is different to the way a woman gets back into her flow and we’ll cover that in a second.

So if you’ve got 10 or 15 interruptions a day and it takes you 10 or 15 minutes to get back into flow, you’re losing hours a day, you’re losing a day a week. Is that efficient? Absolutely not. So why is it that women can hit their flow a lot quicker than men? Well let’s look at the brain. So we all know that within the brain we’ve got two sides of it, we’ve got the left and the right hand side. Left’s logic, right’s for emotion, et cetera. What most people don’t look at is how the brains are connected, the two sides are connected.

With the women, what you’ll find is that they have a greater concentration of pathways crossing and connecting the two sides of the brain as opposed to men. That is why they can multitask. And what’s the primary function of a man? It was to go out there, hunt and provide and protect. That simple.

Now you can go to major town or city on a Friday or Saturday night and you’ll still see protect and hunt in action. The “provide” is probably missing. This is the reason why women are good with multitasking. If we go back to the old age some thousands of years ago, you can imagine they had to make sure that the youngsters stayed stuff, and more. In order to do that, they needed to be able to concentrate and focus on more than one thing at once, hence the ability to multitask, whereas men, we had it really simple. We had to go and hunt. What does that mean? Well you needed to have great spacial awareness, great periphery vision, you needed to know what was going on around you.

Men have got very good spacial awareness. It’s nothing to do with between the sexes, all it is to do with the way the brain is wired. Men are not designed to multitask. That’s never going to change.

So men, take comfort in this. When you get told that you can’t multitask, it’s thousands of years of programming. Ladies, stop telling men they can’t multitask. They know this. They have known this for thousands of years. It ain’t ever going to change. And the reality is again, the way our brains are wired does really affect the way that we work. As I said to you before, we operate in an environment of massive distractions. It’s very intrusive. You think about our days. We get interrupted, huge interruptions whether it’s our team interrupting us, whether it’s our email, I mean email’s a horrific interruption. How often do you see yourself hearing the word ping and then you’re checking your phone? Is it an email message? Is it a text message? The phone rings. Yes, always stop-start, stop-start, stop-start. You can never get any traction and the reality is when you start to do a task, it takes you a little while to get into that task and pick up that momentum, pick up that flow.

As soon as you get interrupted and you go and deal with something else, how long does it take you to get back to that level of efficiency where you left off? Most of the time it’s 10 or 15 minutes and you can imagine, if you’ve got seven or eight interruptions a day, the chances are you’re losing two or three hours a day through interruptions and inefficient working which is a day and half or two days a week before you know it.

If you want to start operating in a more efficient manner, you’ve got to change the way you work and that’s where the default diary comes in is actually starting to say, “How do I zone my days? How do I zone my weeks? How do I start to be more structured?”

So for most of you, zoning your diary is going to be a bit of an alien concept, so bear with me and just play along and see how you may be able to start looking at your business and looking at how you can zone your diary. So you take your hours. Most business owners are in at seven in the morning, some six, some that have really got a lot on their mind at five. Five to six, you’ll be lucky if you finish then. Sometimes it’s six or seven. And how does your day normally go? Normally you deal with whatever comes. The only structure may be where you’ve got meetings or you’re seeing a customer or anything. Apart from that, anything goes. So you’ve got to start thinking as a business owner, “What is my job? What do I need to do?” So let me look at it from a coach’s perspective and how I deal with things.

As a coach I get in, and I normally get in at six. Why do I get in at six or half five? I’m an early person. And what’s the first thing I do? Okay, between six and seven, I’m clearing my emails. I’m just getting myself ready for the week ahead. Seven to eight, I coach. Eight to nine, I coach. Why do I coach so early in the morning on a Monday is I need to be ready for the week ahead, none of this, “Let me get over the weekend.” It means that at seven o’clock, I’m on stage. I have to be on my game. My clients will not put up with me being off my game. Then you’ve got nine to ten, 10 to 11.

That tends to be team meetings every single week. We never change that, I never move that. That’s there set in stone. How often do you have stuff that you have set in stone that you allow to drift because other stuff comes in? No. That’s for my team. I don’t do anything else but spend time with them. If I get phone calls and everything, I will deal with it later.

Then I coach, coach, lunch, coach, coach, coach. You’ve seen that I’m coaching back to back. The reason that I coach back to back is simple. I’m in that coaching zone. If I’m in a zone, it’s very easy for me then to coach the next person and the next person after that because it’s when I’m thinking about coaching. It would be far more difficult for me to be doing a little bit of coaching and thinking, “Okay, I’ve got an hour spare. Let me do some marketing,” because then I’ve got to get in my head into marketing. By the time I get my head into marketing, it’s going to be some time already gone, I’ve then got to get my head back into coaching. Inefficient.

Then the Tuesdays, I tend to coach back to back. Nothing else. Okay, let’s say I had one for lunch, so we put lunch there and then Wednesday as well, I’m just coaching clients and that allows me Thursday and Fridays to either do days where I’m in the studio, so if I’m doing videos, I will do six or seven videos back to back. Why do I do that? Because I’m in the video zone. If I’m out seeing prospective clients, I will do that on the Thursday or Friday. If I’m doing strategic workshop days, they will be a Thursday or Friday. I have got immense structure to my diary. Now I don’t expect you to go from zero diary to a fully structured diary overnight but you’ve got to start thinking, “All right, well how can I be a little bit more efficient?”

So it may well be that some of you that are out there as owners, you’re doing the sales calls. Very often what will happen, a customer will say, “I need to see you on such and such a day.” “Yeah, no problem. I will drop everything else and go and see the customer.” You don’t respect your time. You see, what you’ve got to put yourself down is you’ve got to become your own customer and you’ve got to say, “As a business owner, there are going to be these things I need to do.” Because the reality is if I’m coaching on these days and a prospective client says to me, “Can you meet me on these days?” am I going to say to my clients, “Sorry, I can’t coach you today. I need to go and see a prospect. Can we move our diary? Can I coach you another time?” That ain’t going to happen. My clients’ time are my clients’ time and nine times out of ten if you actually said to someone that was a prospective client or a customer, “Sorry, I am busy that day. I’ve already got my appointments booked. I’m free these days,” do you know what? They will say, “Yeah, not a problem.”

You’ve got to start thinking, “I need to take control of my diary. I need to take control of my life.” So start putting zones.

Have afternoons maybe. So twice or three times a week if you’ve got long appointments, do maybe on one day a whole morning and then maybe two afternoons, split it up. Make sure you have time for your marketing. Make sure you have time for your training of your team. Make sure you have time to do your admin stuff, to do your marketing and all of the other things that business owners need to do.

Put the time in. If you don’t block it out, remember the rocks. If you don’t schedule it in and put it in your diary, either rubbish will take its place, you will never be in control, you will never take the business to A, where you wanted it to go when you first started a business and B, where the business can go. That’s it for today and remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.