«The hard truth is that time waits for no one and is one of the scarcest resources. Yet one of the best things you can do as a connector is to invest your time because you need to be present«.
When you are a genuine connector, you are more than happy to help other people, but little by little more people will be clamouring for your attention. So you must manage your time very well, especially if you don’t want to spend time on people who don’t have a formulated request or whom you may think are less than excellent. Be selective if you can’t reach out to and follow up with everybody.
To help you navigate this vital question, here’s what you should know about time management, including problems and strategies for making time for connections.
WHAT DOES TIME MANAGEMENT MEAN?
Time management is organising and planning how to divide time between different activities. People who can practice good time management get more done in less time because they are better at prioritising and determining what needs to be done and discarding the rest. They understand the difference between what is urgent and what is essential.
- Urgent tasks demand immediate attention, but whether you give them that attention may or may not matter.
- Important tasks matter; not doing them can seriously affect you or others.
TIME MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS RELATED TO CONNECTIONS AND HOW TO SOLVE THEM
Poor time management can affect your contacts, for example, when you are late for a meeting. On the other hand, balancing helping others with productivity can be one of the most critical yet challenging elements of becoming and remaining a successful connector. To achieve this, you must understand and resolve your time management issues.
Dr Mallary Tytel, president of Healthy Workplaces in Bolton, Connecticut, classifies problems with effective time management as either internal or external factors. Internal barriers include discipline and procrastination; outer walls include factors such as workload, job and workplace constraints, and available corporate resources. See below the most important ones:
Procrastination is probably your worst enemy. According to some research, procrastination is a psychological reaction that involves putting off a task until little time is left before the deadline. People may procrastinate for various reasons, such as habit, perfectionism or lack of clarity of purpose.
To avoid this, you must dedicate specific time to altering your internal dialogue with words like «I choose«. If that doesn’t work, try breaking the task into several manageable parts.
The second lesson in time management is learning to prioritise. Although it is difficult to prioritise tasks, learning to do so is essential if you want better manage your time and become a great connector.
Try using visual prioritisation tools, such as a graphic organiser or a chart, to do this. You can also try collaborating with a trusted colleague or mentor to help you decide which tasks are the most important for a given period.
Multitasking does not improve productivity. Multitasking prevents you from concentrating on all tasks equally and takes up more of your time than completing functions in sequence. The solution to multitasking is to focus on one thing at a time.
According to a Harvard Business study, on average, a person is interrupted 50 to 60 times a day, 80% of which are unimportant interruptions. By distractions, we mean calls, emails, social media, and paper clutter, but in reality, in addition to this, we get distracted from important work by other, lower-priority work.
If you get distracted, you will certainly not be able to complete the task in the time allotted. The best you can do is to accept that distractions are inevitable and try to incorporate them into your work.
To increase concentration and reduce distractions, try to adapt your workspace to your preferred mode of attention and, finally, take breaks to help you be productive and avoid distractions.
STRATEGIES FOR MAKING TIME FOR CONNECTIONS
We can never have enough time. The trick is to find the underutilised time of the day or week to make connections. When driving, turn on your Bluetooth and have a good conversation. It would help if you found what works for you by making connections, blocking out a time in your calendar and making it happen.
Judy Robinett, in her book «How to be a power connector«, defines four-time frames for tracking our connections:
1. Once a day
Spend 5-10 minutes daily reaching out to 3 people on what’s exciting for them: a book recommendation, a press opportunity, a birthday wish or anything else that feels appropriate to the relationship. If you do this at least five days a week, you will have cultivated 15 relationships by week, about 60 a month and 180 a quarter.
Otherwise essential to reconnect with any new contacts within 24 hours of your first meeting. Also, respond to any email, call, message or other communication from people in your network within 24 hours because you never know who might be reaching out to you or whom they might have in their network.
2. One a week
Within seven days of contacting you, you should send something of value (article, introduction, resource, and others). Don’t forget to set aside one day a week to interact with your closest contacts so that you can keep your connections with them strong and vital.
3. One a month
Whether virtual or face-to-face, instead of spending time in one-on-one meetings with everyone each month, you should reach out to a small group of your contacts to leverage your time, add value to each attendee and build your reputation as a connector.
You need to select people who know each other and will benefit and enjoy a planned way of reconnecting. This way will have reduced your time in several ways and reconnected with each person without doing it individually.
4. One a quarter
For the rest of the people in your network, send a quarterly group email or LinkedIn message, or write a post that features an update on your professional and personal activities and requests that they update you. It is a great way to stay in the minds of people over the course of a year.
Finally, investigate their profile if you receive a request from someone who is not in your network and does not seem trustworthy. If it is reliable and you have responded to it before, invite them to check out the source instead of having a meeting.
Although good time management is crucial for every connector, it can be challenging to master.
Being a connector focused on helping others is not synonymous with not managing your time well, nor with accepting all the demands you receive that consume your time. You must be selective and a good manager of your time on connections.
Pick one of the time management tips discussed in this article and try it for a few weeks. You’ll see how soon they become a natural habit, and you’ll start to see a boost in your business and personal connections.
*** BEFORE YOU GO
Quote of the week: «Living is the art of getting used to what we didn’t expect«.- Eleanor C. Wood
The above article is a weekly summary of my thoughts on my work as a connector that is ready for leaders worldwide.
You can also enjoy the Let’s Connect Live, where I interview business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and inspirational thinkers.
Jose Raul Vaquero is President of the documentalistas.org Foundation and Founder of clubimpulso.net, which connects more than 100,000 professionals from 24 countries. For this work, he has been recognised by several governments and organisations. Finally, he’s also the Founder of the Young Politicians of the Americas community.