CEO Blog

Category Archives: Time Management

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to time management.

Goals Without Plans are Pipe Dreams

Dream becomes goal quote by Bo BennettI am a big fan of goals.

  • They give you something to aim for.
  • They provide focus.
  • They are the foundation of any great time management system.
  • They are necessary for any company that wants success, and highly recommended for anyone who wants to achieve success in almost anything, personal or career oriented.

A goal without a plan, that is actionable, has timelines and is realistic, is just a dream.  Martin Luther King Jr famously said, “I have a dream!”  The thing is that his dream also had a plan … he was working to make his dream a reality!

If you have ever looked at business plans from early stage companies there is a trend among some percentage of them to have a growth goal that looks like a hockey stick (very slow growth now followed by exponential growth in the future) .  Invariably the “business plan” will cite statistics for the size of the world-wide market and a comment that suggests if the company just takes 3% of the worldwide market they will achieve their targets.  THAT is not a plan … THAT is a dream (or a wish).

One of my personal favorite pipe dreams is the “If we just grow by 10% per year for the next 7 years we will double in size.”  That is a goal, not a plan.  The plan is needed to show the path to get that 10% growth each year, and will likely include multiple means to achieve the growth.

So … if you have a goal (or dream) then you have a good starting point.

The very next step is to lay out a plan that will get you to that goal.

  • It needs to be measurable.
  • It needs to be actionable.
  • It needs to be doable … even if it is a stretch.
  • It needs be tracked.
  • It needs to be reviewed periodically.
  • It needs to be flexible so that as situations change, then the plan can change.
  • I would suggest getting help developing the plan, and also help holding you accountable to the plan.
  • I would suggest having milestone goals along the way, that will demonstrate your progress.
  • I would suggest celebrating wins as you go, to stay motivated.
  • You might also want to stretch your goal as you get closer … because success breed more success!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

Use Productive Mini-Breaks to Improve Your Productivity

Time quote How often are you swamped with urgent. “must do” tasks that absolutely consume your day?

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that happens to a lot of people.

The work needs to get done, so you put your head down and do it.

One problem is that other important tasks slip … some of which will be come urgent in time.

If you are in sales that might mean you are not setting up appointments with clients, not doing customer service calls or otherwise hurting your reputation and your pipeline.

IF you commit to taking 5 minutes every hour and knocking off one of your quicker, important tasks then you can significantly increase your productivity!

Here is how it might work for a salesperson.

1.  Have an up to date To Do list … a critical item for any good time management practices.

2.  Identify the quick hit, important tasks.  Setting up meetings; returning client calls; customer service calls; prospect calls.

3.  Block off 5 minutes each hour in your calendar, and set up an alert.

4.  When the alert goes, stop work on the large task …. proposal work, reporting, billing or any other time consuming task … and give 100% focus for 5 minutes to knocking off some quick hits.

At the end of the day you should have 6 or 7 of those small, but important tasks crossed off your list.

Some of the benefits:

1.  It ALWAYS feels good to cross tasks off the To Do list.

2.  You will have created momentum with your quick hit tasks that will be apparent as soon as you finish the big task.

3.  You will have meetings already in your calendar that would not be there if you had not done this.

4.  Very likely the large task will take no longer, because the breaks allow you to be more productive when you go back to the task.

5.  Your To Do list will not feel like a mountain to climb because you have been chipping away at it.

This little trick will help you to be more productive and in sales that typically affects your earnings!

PS.  This trick will work in most professions, because it is difficult to stay 100% focused on one task for hours at a time, the mini-breaks are used productively rather than chatting with a colleague!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

Some Hard Facts About Sales

Your job in sales is to generate business for your employer.

You do this by:

  • Representing your company well.
  • Understanding client needs and problems.
  • Solving those needs and problems with your company’s solutions/products.

“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”  Zig Ziglar

There a LOT of pieces to that, including:

  • Recognising where there is a fit, and not forcing square pegs into round holes.
  • Recognising that to get the whole story from one client you may need to talk with a lot of people … and listen a lot.
  • Recognising that to uncover one client that actually needs your help will necessitate a lot of rejection from companies that don’t need it today.
  • Recognising that people like to deal with people they like.
  • Recognising that you need to earn trust.
  • Recognising that you need to build credibility.
  • Recognising that this is all hard work … and needs total focus.

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.”  Wilson Mizner

Look at the chart … this is real life!

Sales Statistics

You need to be able to answer these questions.

  • How many good leads do you need to get “enough” closes to meet your targets?
  • How many meetings do you need to have to get those “good leads”?
  • How many conversations do you need to have on the phone to get those meetings?
  • How many calls do you need to make to get those conversations?
  • How many of those people that you called never hear from you again?
  • How many people you talked with will never hear from you again?
  • Do you have a system and a process to keep in contact with those people … bringing them some kind of value?
  • Why do you think people will buy from you?

There is nowhere to hide … this is what it takes for you to be successful.

“Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.”  Jim Rohn

If you are waiting for the phone to ring you might be waiting a long time.

If you are relying on the same clients you relied on last year then you are in decline.

Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

Practical Tips for Driving Your Day

Jim Rohn quote about time managementI often talk about the need to take control of your time.  Too often we come to the office and just “do stuff”, which means that your day is driving you.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra

Sometimes when I talk about this subject I see heads nodding, the recognition that what I am saying makes sense … but all too often people don’t change how they operate.

“The only possible way to have it ALL is with structure and the discipline to keep to it, to make it a routine.” Margot Hattingh

Here are some ideas about exactly HOW you can drive your day using goals, routines and priorities.

  1. Set some goals … they can be your own or set by the company. g. If you are in sales you may have a goal that supports meeting your sales quota.  If you are a recruiter you might have a goal of interviewing 2 people a day.  Other examples might be learning goals (1 one hour seminar a month etc.) or numbers of people to talk with or meet with.
  2. Understand which tasks have the highest priority related to your job. If you are in sales they might be client meetings or calls; if you are a recruiter it might be conversations with candidates or interviews.  These tasks will be the ones that have the most impact.  These are “A” type priority items.
  3. Understand what the mandatory “other tasks” are in your job. These might be internal reporting, meetings with your boss etc.   These will be “B” type priority items.
  4. Create your Master To Do list. I always suggest having this separate from your notebook (or wherever you capture notes).  I like to capture what I have done in my notebook, and keep a separate list of things I need to do.  Identify which are high priority tasks, which are
  5. Create a standard “start of day” routine with reminders generated in your calendar. These could be “Start of Day routine” … review To Dos; identify what to do that day; book time in calendar for specific tasks (more later).   This should be done BEFORE opening email or listening to voicemail.  It should be revised if necessary after those tasks.
  6. Create a standard “end of day” routine (again with reminders) Review To Do’s; Identify calendar items for next day & any required preparation; celebrate completing tasks etc.
  7. Create a standard end of week routine; a standard end of month routine (that might include monthly report generation etc.)
  8. Measure yourself against your goals regularly … as it makes sense. If your goal is to have 10 client meetings a week, then you can measure that every day … meetings you have had plus those planned gives you a shortfall to correct.
  9. Always put the emphasis on high return (A type priorities).
  10. Build time into your day for the “B type” activities.
  11. Build time into your day for breaks.
  12. When NOT on a break focus on work!

If you can do that you will be driving your day.

“Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.” Brian Tracy

What did I miss?  What else could you do?


Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

Do You Have A Smartphone Addiction?

Quote about focus from John Di LemmeSome days it seems like the whole world is addicted to their smartphones!

You can’t walk one city block without encountering someone, and more often many people, trying to text and walk, usually badly.

Despite mass awareness, legislative change and police clamp downs you cannot commute home without passing people with their phones in their hand.  These people are willing to risk their lives, other people’s lives and at a minimum the property damage of a car accident rather than put the smartphone away.

“A texting driver will take an EXTRA 70 feet to stop at 70 mph.” Car and Driver Study

Go to any busy restaurant and you will see a number of people on their devices and even more people with their devices sitting just waiting to be picked up at the hint of an email, text or call!  Don’t these people want to talk to their fellow diners?

Go to the average work meeting and ask people to switch off their mobile phones and you will be met with awe and dismay.  Too often you will spot meeting “participants” on their device, responding to “important” emails or more likely texting another meeting “participant” instead of engaging in the meeting.

“Multitasking often leads to messing two things up simultaneously.”  Farhan Thawar

When did we all become so important that we cannot be “offline” for a couple of hours?

As an addiction, the smartphone is particularly dangerous because not only does it pander to our need to be in touch with our friends and family 24/7 but it also gives us access to the internet 24/7.  We need never again have to wait minutes to hear the news, or a sports score … our smartphone delivers it to us AND even tells us when it arrives!

None of this is rational.

If we made rational decisions then we would schedule time to check our email, as it fits in with our work.

We might keep in contact with friends and family, but periodically at lunch or maybe during an afternoon break.

We would not need to know about the news “as it happens” because we would be focused on the task at hand, which most days of the week is our job.

In meetings we would put the thing away, provide constructive input to the meeting and address anything else after the meeting.

We might employ hands free technology in our cars to talk while driving.  However our eyes would be on the road and our hands guiding the vehicle … not texting our friends.

“A drunk driver is 4 (FOUR) times more likely to have an accident.  A sober driver texting is 8  (EIGHT) times more likely to have an accident.”  Insurance Company Statistics

A rational choice would be to drive our day, to be as productive as possible and to use the smartphone as a tool.

Instead … we let our smartphones interrupt our lives, impact our productivity, hurt our relationships AND worse still, possibly kill us, and others.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

Making The Most of Your Sales Meeting Time

Zig Ziglar quote about using time effectivelyIf you work in any large city, or your sales territory is large, then you can find yourself spending a lot of time travelling to and from meetings. Obviously face to face time with clients is critically important but you also don’t want to kill your productivity for a day, or half a day because of that meeting.

What can you do to be productive when you have to accommodate a fair bit of travel into your schedule? Here are some tips:

“You win not by chance, but by preparation”. Roger Maris

  1. This may seem obvious but plan your schedule as effectively as possible… you don’t have to accept the first time that your client suggests.
  2. Think through what times work best for you… for example, on your way into work, or on your way home might be most effective.
  3. Try to avoid prime “calling time” when you can be on the phone with other clients and prospects.
  4. Can you use the travel time? I would not advocate tough business calls while driving, but with hands free technology and a little preplanning you could make some of your “catch up” calls while on the road.
  5. If you can use other transport, like public transport, then you can work on other things while you travel.
  6. Plan your time so that the activities you can do while out of the office, are saved for those occasions… catch up reading, short emails, writing cards etc.
  7. Schedule other client meetings in the area that you are visiting, maximizing the “travel time per meeting”. If you travel for 60 minutes to have one 60 minute meeting, it is not very efficient.
  8. Try to meet multiple people at the site you are visiting, there are typically multiple people who would be worth meeting. The accounting people who pay your bills, the EA who helps set up meetings, the purchasing person who handles contracts etc.
  9. Make the most of your meeting time! Have a clear agenda, so you get all of the information you need in one go! Take good notes so you don’t miss anything!
  10. Make sure that you use your calendar and everyone who needs to know your schedule does know it. That way they can slot in other meetings for you, even if you are out at meetings.

“Day by day, what you do is who you become.” Heraclitus

Some salespeople are lucky, and their clients are all close by, but even then there are many things we as salespeople can do to maximize our time. A little planning, some forethought and a focus on the fact that time is a precious resource will go a long way to increasing our productivity and success!

Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

Thinking Ahead

Preparation quote from Ben FrankllinFor a short period of time, during my school years, I took chess lessons. While I enjoyed the game I did not keep it up, probably because I was more inclined to less cerebral activities like football (soccer). The aspect of chess that I found most interesting is the need to think multiple steps ahead, to think through the implications of your next move and your opponent’s likely response… and beyond!

I try to apply the same thinking in my professional life. If I can think ahead a few moves then it means I can be better prepared for whatever might come my way. Obviously there are no crystal balls, but too often the future is very obvious and yet there are people who somehow always seem surprised!

“A first-rate Organizer is never in a hurry. He is never late. He always keeps up his sleeve a margin for the unexpected.” Arnold Bennett

Can you see yourself in any of these situations:

  1. The salesperson has one key contact in a client who gives them a significant amount of business. That person leaves, or retires, or gets promoted, or moves role… and Surprise the business dries up!
  2. The company relies on its technology to be its differentiator… but at some point someone else innovates faster. Surprise the market for their solution is no longer popular.
  3. You have monthly work commitments and you have an upcoming vacation that will impact your ability to deliver. Surprise… you suddenly have to get the work done, at the last minute, before going on vacation!
  4. I make a commitment to deliver a speech at an upcoming conference, but procrastinate in writing it until Surprise the conference is in two days!
  5. You want to lose some weight and get fitter before the warm weather arrives. You lay out a plan but there are so many “exception occasions” that Surprise your weight is not going down and your fitness not improving!

If you take time out to plan then you are far less likely to get surprised. Thinking ahead, or “planning” is critical for individuals and companies.

“A man who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.” Confucius

In sales you need “account plans” that will meet and exceed your quota targets with built-in allowance for anomalies. You need to ensure adequate account coverage, an understanding of the “players”, competition, opportunities and threats. Good account planning should result in fewer surprises.

As a company you need strategic plans that will map out your future, taking into account external and internal influences such as competition and regulatory change. You should collaborate with your management team, and consider using external advisors in the creation of these plans.

As an individual you need to plan your time, ensuring that you get to complete the things you both need, and want, to do. A good plan will allow for both work and personal goals, assuring the right kind of life balance that suits your situation.

If you let your days drive you, instead of you driving your days you are bound to get more surprises than necessary!

Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

10 Tips To Help Your People Be More Autonomous

Give a man a fish or teach him to fish proverbI have written many times about “Time Management” and “Personal Productivity”. I have extolled the virtues of “To Do Lists”, “Goals”, using calendars effectively and setting priorities.

I have talked about delegating and about focusing on high return activities.

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Peter F. Drucker

One area that I have not focused on, but is incredibly important if you are a manager, is in getting people to be respectful of your time. Your job is to manage, to mentor and to coach. You are expected to provide advice when it is needed and you certainly want people to feel like they can come to you when they need advice.

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” Tom Peters

The down side is when they come to you so often that it impacts your ability to get things done. You find it hard to concentrate on your tasks for extended periods of time without someone on your team interrupting.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. It is usually better to start with people coming to you more than they need to, rather than for people to run off “doing things” incorrectly.
  2. You should set a goal to improve the autonomy of your people over time… it could be a reduction in calls per day/week; or in minutes spent talking.
  3. You should give regular feedback with clear direction about what should be discussed and what decisions they might make themselves. Over time this should create more autonomy.
  4. You should instruct them in the difference between Urgent and not Urgent; Important and Not Important. You should only be interrupted for Urgent/Important issues.
  5. Train your people to have a means of collecting issues… it could be electronic or paper, just a handy way for them to collect items for your next meeting. This will discourage them from phoning you every 15 minutes when something pops into their heads.
  6. Organise regular meetings with your reports. They should probably be more frequent at the start, and backing off over time. Both you and they should feel comfortable that they are often enough, but not too often.
  7. Have a structure to your meetings. An agenda to which both contribute is a good idea. It will help keep the timing efficient.
  8. Set goals for the meetings. What does each want to achieve? Every meeting does not have to be exactly the same. For example the meetings might be weekly with different agendas on alternating weeks, or a monthly meeting focused on proactive agenda items rather than reactive items.
  9. If you have multiple direct reports then don’t assume the same format works for each… be flexible in accommodating different styles, different needs and different speeds of learning.
  10. Build time into your calendar during which you are not to be disturbed! This is a classic time management technique, but one way of finding time to get things done without interruption.

“The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.” Barry Werner

What ideas do you have about managing multiple direct reports (who may also be managers) and still getting “stuff” done?

“The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will power to develop themselves.” Robert Burton

Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

11 Tips to Travel Like a Business Owner. Frugally and Productively!

Productivity quote from Paul J MeyerPeople who don’t travel much will often think that business travel is exotic. Interesting cities, nice hotels, restaurant meals all seems so much better that the everyday “humdrum” existence they live!

Then there are the people who actually travel for business, whose view might be a little different. Longer hours, no home cooked meals, miss their own bed, hotels are all the same when all you do is use them to sleep and shower, restaurant meals get old and then there is the time away from family. Not often mentioned but equally off putting is the exposure to germs and people you might not otherwise choose to meet! Too often you find yourself in an aircraft where invariably you are sitting next to a large person who overflows into your space, and has a very obvious cold!

Now that I have put business travel into context, it IS a valuable, and needed, activity for any business that has multiple locations or even just clients in multiple locations.

Business owners approach travel with the goal of achieving their business needs as effectively and as “cost effectively” as possible! Here are some business travel tips from a business owner:

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” Benjamin Franklin

  1. Book ahead! Last minute travel is costly … and does not allow you to plan your days as effectively as you might.
  2. Look at travel options … don’t go with the same airline all the time just to collect points! In Canada I might travel on Westjet, Air Canada or Porter based on price, convenience and my travel needs for a given trip.
  3. Be frugal with hotel bookings. Generally it’s just a bed and a shower. You don’t need the most expensive hotel. I find a reasonable place, convenient to my meetings. I often use sites like Hotwire to get great rates and have friends who use airbnb.
  4. Limit travel in business hours. I get early morning flights when headed west, and late evening flights when headed east. This means I can maximize my time at my destination. For example if I leave Toronto at or before 7am I can arrive in Calgary or Vancouver around 9am local time, giving me a full day in that city.
  5. Look after your body. Eat well, get enough sleep and work out. You don’t even need a gym to work out! Pushups, ab exercises, squats, lunges, walking the stairs etc. are all good exercise that you can do anywhere.
  6. Travel with hand sanitiser. In the “germ environments” of planes and hotels it makes sense to act like a health professional. Wash your hands often!
  7. Travel with supplements. You will likely not get the nutrients you get with your regular diet so bring vitamins, ColdFX even some pain medication. It will help you stay healthier and hence more effective.
  8. Limit your alcohol intake. It is easy to let this get away from you when you are visiting colleagues and clients in other cities. Exercise some restraint, your body will thank you.
  9. Take materials with you that will make your travel time effective. Catch up on reading, create a reading file with photocopies or cutouts of articles. Put materials on your kindle, iPad or other reader.
  10. Travel light. Learn to pack effectively and think through your wardrobe … if you can travel with carry-on luggage only you will save time and aggravation. (Learn to us an iron … there is one in most hotel rooms).
  11. Spend like it is your own money. As a business owner it IS your own money! Tip appropriately, but not extravagantly. Choose reasonable but not crazy restaurants. Take the team for a couple of drinks, but don’t make a night of it.

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years like most people won’t. So that you can live the rest of your life like most people can’t.” Unknown

These are lessons I have learned over the last 18 years owning and operating my own business.

What tips do you have to share?

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
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So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur?

Quote about entreprneurship from founder of githubThere are many rewards for being a business owner. You have the ability to define your own destiny and your fate is largely in your own hands. If you make the right choices, develop good plans and execute well on your plans then you can reasonably expect to do well financially.

There are many people who talk about running their own business and there a subset of those who go on to actually take the risk … because that is exactly what it is. There are a ton of statistics around the number of companies that go bankrupt in their early years in business … around 80% of new companies go bankrupt… and, depending on who you believe , this happens in either the first year, the first three years or the first five years. Best case you have a 20% chance of surviving as a new business.

 “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”  Vince Lombardi

Assuming that your business is one of those that survives, it is a fair bet your survival is the result of hard work, good strategy, good people, good execution and some luck!

So now you have a “going concern”, a business that generates profits that can be used to fuel growth and compete with the best. Of course we live in an ever changing world and you have to hope that:

  1.  your company is not operating in the equivalent of the “buggy whip” sector;
  2.  your competition is not reinventing your market space before you can;
  3.  you can attract and retain talented people;
  4.  you can attract and retain good clients;
  5.  you can remain relevant;
  6.  the economy will not tank to the point where you can’t hang on;
  7.  a cheap offshore solution doesn’t become available (look at SW Ontario’s manufacturing base); and
  8.  that governments do not introduce legislation that will make your business model unaffordable.

Welcome to the life of a business owner.  Don’t think I am looking for sympathy because I love it!  It does however mean that most people do not want this life … does that make me a masochist?  However, if nobody did it then where would the jobs come from?

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”  Peter Drucker

poster with attributes of an entrepreneur

Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?