Time management is a big question I get asked all of the time. How do I take control of my time? How do I stop being so busy? I don’t have any spare time? I’m exhausted? I don’t have time to get everything done? These are all common questions.

There are many, many time management strategies. The first thing to realise is you can’t manage time, it ticks on whether or not you manage it, so when we talk about time management, we are actually talking about personal management. That being said, because there are so many strategies available, I think of it a bit like a smorgasbord. If you and I went to a smorgasbord, we wouldn’t necessarily choose to eat the same thing. I might start with the roast (which I would – yum!!) whereas you might start with the desserts. You might eat seafood, whereas I wouldn’t go near it. Time management is kind of the same thing. There are so many strategies, but you have to find the ones that work for you.

There is one strategy that I think pretty much works for everyone – that is if they work the strategy!!

This is the first thing that I suggest to business owners as it is the easiest and fastest to implement and also it is highly effective.

If I said to you that you had one hour – even if it was only one hour a week, but ideally one hour a day – that was totally uninterrupted time that you could just put 100% of focus on the task that is important for you to get finished or even just your daily to do list, how much of it do you think you could get done. In one hour of uninterrupted time (no phone calls, no questions, no distractions!) you will often get more done than you would in a total day that has lots of starts and stops due to interruptions and distractions and phone calls and emails…. What if you could have just one hour a day (ideally – or if you can’t do daily, start with one hour a week) that is what I call ‘Not Negotiable Time’.

What do I mean by not negotiable time? Well, it is not negotiable that you have that one hour uninterrupted. You set the time and then you have that time – no negotiation, no swapping of the time, it is set and you have it.

If you had an appointment with a specialist doctor that you had to wait 6 months to get, what would it take to have to change that appointment? It would have to be something fairly major right? So that is how I want you to think of your not negotiable time – it is that important to you.

Of course, set it at a time that makes the most sense. Don’t set it at a time when your staff are going to really need you or at a time that is when you should be doing your sales calls or when you are going to be most needed. To be honest, if you had to set this time before or after hours of your business to begin with, then do it. It will be worth it.

Then, you tell everyone that this is your time that is not negotiable and there is to be NO interruptions unless absolutely urgent. Let’s use the specialist doctor appointment as an example. If you had to go see this specialist doctor for just 1 hour, what would it take for ANYONE to interrupt that appointment? Maybe if one of your kids had fallen off the monkey bars and broken an arm right? It would have to be something fairly dramatic. Well, this is what you tell your team. They only interrupt you if it is something that just can’t wait one hour – use the doctor as an example. If they would interrupt you at the doctor for the item, then they can interrupt you in your not negotiable time.

Now all you have to do is stick to it yourself! That is actually the key here – you need to turn up to your own appointment and be prepared for it. Have a list of what you are going to do in your not negotiable time otherwise you will waste the first 5 or 10 minutes working out what you will do. You also need to make sure you stick to the rules of the not negotiable time and actually have it!

Why would you value an appointment with someone else, but not value an appointment you have set with yourself. After all, you just have to show up for it.

One hour is enough time to really get stuff done, but not so long that anyone will be panicked that they can’t contact or interrupt you. Turn off your phone, turn off your emails. Just like if you were in a doctor’s appointment, you’d just call them back in less than an hour!

If you have staff, make it at the same time every week / day so that they get used to the routine. Even your spouse will obey this not negotiable time if you let them know when it is booked in.

You can then even extend this same process to your team. What if they had a set time every week or day when they were not interrupted to get things done. Could this mean they get more done, they are less stressed and more productive. Of course, make sure their not negotiable times don’t overlap!

Not negotiable time – the easiest and sometimes the most efficient time management strategy you can implement. Give it a go!