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Doing The Hours

I spent a few days in Vienna for Christmas. Despite enjoying the beauty of the city and its food, I invested some good time in museums, learning about Austrian Emperors.

During a visit to The Schönbrunn Palace, I dived into the interesting story of Emperor, Franz Joseph I.

Franz Joseph was only 18 years of age when he took the throne. He began work at 5 in the morning. During the course of his long working day, simple meals were served to him at his desk. The emperor, who used to call himself the first public servant of his state, once said: “One must work until one drops from exhaustion!”

I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people in business that unfortunately follow Franz Joseph’s advice (consciously or unconsciously).

Putting in the hours, working until exhaustion is definitely not a good path. You’ll be certainly working hard but not smartly. This is one strong point that we discussed in our end-of-the-year meeting.

We are determined to achieve a lot more this year and work less. Is that possible? Yes. Just have a look at how you spend your daily hours and you’ll find many, many improductive holes. You don’t need more time but direction on how to invest that time better. The decision on how we’ll work in 2011 didn’t happen overnight…

What was the motivation?

Besides the desire to achieve more, we read and analysed:

  1. The Lazy Person’s Guide to Success: How to Get What You Want Without Killing Yourself for It” by Earnie Zelinski. I know, it’s not the best title. I wouldn’t have chosen it but it came referred to us. The content is absolutely brilliant. Makes you concentrate on achieving based on what gives you satisfaction and not achieving for the sake of growing the business and making more money. Big difference.
  2. Focus” by Leo Babauta. You’ll fine some very good action points on how to get things done effectively.
  3. Chris constantly blogs about the “human business”. Every now an then he also writes very interestiong posts about maximising your time and ditching what doesn’t move you forward. Here’s an example.
  4. : Seth Godin’s blog is a MUST-read for every single business professional. You don’t necessarily need to be in the Marketing field. Seth constantly talks about the importance of “shipping” and what feeds our lizard brains, keeping us away from creating the art that matters. Here’s an example.

So, what will change?

Here are a few examples:

  1. Create an Excel spread sheet with 5 columns, one for each day and come up with daily structure. For example: from 8 to 9 you check and answer emails. In my case, I also publish a new Bloggertone post 🙂 Try to give a name and a specific time to those activities that you perform everyday and then stick to that time slot. For other activities throughout the day, close down your email and set a specific time during the day to check back. Could be after midday and or before COB. Email is one of the worst distractions.
  2. The same rule you applied to email, also apply it to social networks. Don’t have them running in the background. In order to create remarkable work you must “focus” on setting boundaries of space and time, avoiding any interruptions.
  3. Meetings: this is a HUGE issue for most of the companies in the world. We waste a lot of time in them so start thinking about the level of importance. Don’t agree to all of them. If you have a weekly meeting, ensure to have it every week on the same day and the same time. Face to face meetings that are not necessary will literally waste all your day. If they are not crucial, do it on Skype and move on.
  4. Use a project management tool such as or It takes a bit to get use to it but it pays off big time. You’ll be in absolute control of what you’re working on. It’s also phenomenal to track the work done and time you spent with clients.

I hope the post helps you make the most of your 2011. As Chris said, focus on “what’s going to move you forward”. Are you spending time on anything else that doesn’t impact your bottom line? Think again. What are your tricks to achieve more this year?

Fred is Creative Director at Channelship, a strategic web and social media agency. He is responsible for leading web projects and conducting social media training and strategy for companies. He works directly with key accounts, particularly in creative and strategic capabilities. Fred is also a Co-Founder here at

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  • Perhaps this post should have been called “Undoing the Hours” It’s nice to get a little insight into the Channelship machine 🙂 For me, this year is REALLY about working with the clients that get it! It’s get too easy to chase the almighty dollar or in our case the euro.

  • Actually realising that we can work smarter, and do not have to work harder, to earn the same money, can be awe-inspiring!! For some it requires a complete shift in mindset, for others, simply realisation of where they are spending their precious time.nnWe value our time when quoting for a job, but we waste so much of it doing menial or repetitive tasks, that can be streamlined.nnI often get people to make a diary of what they did for one week, and break it into percentages. Most people are “shocked” at the results – no one realises the Pareto rule until they see the evidence.nnGreat post Fred, lots of resources to check out there. Being efficient is not necessarily being effective. Being busy is not necessarily being productive.nnHere’s to a relaxed, productive and rewarding 2011 for Channelship and you both!

  • Thanks for the comment Elaine.nWorking smarter is the way to go but it takes a lot of willingness to understand first what that is before making the change. The majority of the people think that accomplishing all tasks from a list effectively in a shorter period of time is working smarter. To some extend, it is. But we realised that reaching the final line goal effectively is as important and enjoying the journey 🙂

  • Cheers man. Yes, indeed, “undoing” would have been a better word…n

  • Hi Fred, nnI spend most of December just planning and one thing that came out of it was a very detailed Editorial Calendar. n nIt gives me direction AND stops me doing things u2018on the flyu2019, which are usually timewasters.nnAnother is to avoid Shiny New Object Syndrome (letu2019s call it SNOS!) such as Quora or Klout or whatever…nnLike Mr Brogan said, focus on what moves the needles.nnIvan

  • Hi Fred, nnI spend most of December just planning and one thing that came out of it was a very detailed Editorial Calendar. n nIt gives me direction AND stops me doing things u2018on the flyu2019, which are usually timewasters.nnAnother is to avoid Shiny New Object Syndrome (letu2019s call it SNOS!) such as Quora or Klout or whatever…nnLike Mr Brogan said, focus on what moves the needles.nnIvan

  • Anonymous

    Last year I immersed myself into the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology. While it does take time to get a handle on – I’m still learning – it provides an excellent framework in which to organise oneself and stay productive. You work around contextualized to-do lists, as opposed to one main to do list, and crucially you take time out each week to review what you’ve done and what needs to be done.nnI can see many of the features from GTD in your points Fred. I do something similar to what you outline in point 1 re: spreadsheets, however I use my calendar to do this. The nice thing about this approach is that it starts limiting the amount of slots that people can find in your schedule to book you in for a meeting (a big issue where I work, is meeting overload – especially phone conference meetings)

  • Hi Fred.nnThanks for including us in the apps side!nnI find that I tend to divide my day based on what I would call my “capability peak time” i.e. I’m an early morning person and later in the day I tend to operate slightly slower(!). To this end, I tend to put the “must do” things earlier in the day as I can work through them faster and give them the focus. I then take care of the niggly things that require little thought or are tedious towards the end of the day when I need a coffee or three to maintain the focus.nnWe waste an inordinate amount of time during our working day. The more you can create space for yourself, the more you will get done and the faster it will get done. This leaves more time then for networking and sales lead generation or….nnThanks for sharing.

  • Thanks Ivan,nnYes, indeed, the SNOS! huge time wasters… not because their new, because we always want to play with the new toy as soon as it hits the shelves instead of setting time aside to test it later 🙂

  • Thanks for the comment Frank,nnIt actually makes sense to have it in the calendar. My problem is that I already have a lot of stuff there and opening a new calendar will make me want to have a look at the one I have. Btw, I cancelled all pop-ups 🙂

  • That’s brilliant Barney. nI’m a morning person too. I try to do all the must-do things in the morning, but lately I also have a load of stuff that is a must-do but don’t enjoy it too much. I guess it works out if I can get rid of those tasks faster during the morning 🙂

  • Nice post Fred. One of the reasons I got into this type of work was I wanted to free up my time from holding down two jobs of sorts. That and the fact that I hate strict schedules. However I have learned that to be productive there has to be structure and I do have a schedule – a loose one – that works really well for me. nnI recently was in a conversation with someone and had commented on being busy that particular week and they replied that everyone seemed to be busy, yet everyone seemed to be complaining of not earning. Sometimes we are busy laying the foundations to be able to work less hours in the future. The trick is to know when being busy and working hard is paying off and when it’s not. When it’s not, then it’s time to change the way you work.

  • Thanks Mairead.nWhen you say “yet everyone seemed to be complaining of not earning”, it means everybody is doing the same… so do we and finally forgot that there’s a way out. It’s hard not to be influenced by the people around you… but it’s possible to think on your own 🙂

  • Paula Ronan

    Great title, Anne! And great inspiration to do my next blog too – thanks!

  • Phew! I thought for one awful moment that some terrible force had killed off blogging as I peacefully slumbered last night! Great to see the stats on this because as we all know..sometimes the only thing some biz people respond to when trying to convince them of the value of doing something is pie charts and graphs!

  • Great stats here and it shows that blogging for business is such a no brainer, as Niall said, it is bizarre that more businesses aren’t blogging. I have found that my blog has brought in substantial business for me. I think that a blog should be an essential part of every business website, up there with the ‘about us’ pages etc.

  • Anonymous

    Hi LornanYou’re a great example of why businesses should stick with blogging or create one of their own. Yes they take time but the results that can be achieved in terms of business gained make blogs, as you say yourself, an essential part of every website.

  • Anonymous

    Marketing departments in particular need to prove ROI and measure and track everything. These statistics send them the message they need that blogs are a good investment.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Paula.u00a0 Happy Blogging

  • Anonymous

    Resistance to change by many business owners here in the UK. I’m beginning to see a change though. Time will tell

  • I think more knowledge workers or professionals such as accountants and solicitors should embrace blogging. It would form the perfect portfolio to market their knowledge. A blog can never replace formal business advice, but it can show how you think and help potential clients to choose the right professional for them. Of course, as with anything worthwhile, it does take time to do it well, and writing can be scary for some, even the articulate! Great post, useful to have these statistics to refer to. Thanks Anne.

  • One rule I have when reading business books is to use a highlighter and mark sections that I want to remember. Otherwise it goes in one ear and out the other!

  • From one bibliophile to another, I loved this post. I too devour books, but I have a thing about marking books – Ivan with his highlighter pen gives me the shivers! It goes back to childhood never being allowed to write on books. I really like your ideas though, and will have to get past my childhood training..or do you think a kindle might help??

  • Great post and I loved it too and yes, I often wish I had a pen and paper beside me when I have a book, esp a good one. I rarely manage more than 2 books a month but would read 2 a day if I had the time 🙂

  • Frank, good insights.u00a0 nnI think reading (and by extension, digesting and internalizing what you read) requires a certain level ofu00a0 concentration.u00a0 If you’re over-stimulated and stressed due to other circumstances in your life, it’s very hard to read.nnThe first part of my life I was a voracious reader.u00a0 Then I went through a stressful decade climbing the corporate ladder, and lost all desire to read (except, of course, documents for work — of which there were no shortage, trust me!).u00a0 But I don’t think I read more than one book a year during that time.u00a0 nnNow I am much calmer again, and back to reading 2, sometimes 3, books a week. Anyone who just can’t bring himself or herself to read, or who can’t digest or retain what’s been read, look for other stresses in your life you may also want to tackle.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Ivan. u00a0I agree having a pen, pencil or highlighter to hand when reading business books is vital.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Marie. u00a0I don’t have a Kindle but have the Kindle app on the iPad and it is great for taking notes and highlighting passages.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Lorna. u00a0I’d also read 2 a day if I had time, but I rarely do. u00a0My approach these days is to ensure that I get at least 30 minutes of book reading per day. u00a0Most days I don’t achieve this in one sitting.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Anita and the great insights. u00a0For people who struggle to find time to read my advice is to start with something manageable. u00a0Maybe it might start at 10/15 minutes a day and then build it up in 5 minute increments. u00a0When you set a target you should document what blocked you from reaching your target that day – too much TV, too much internet etc – and try to avoid the same distractions the next day.

  • Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Zahra and a great first post for us. It’s really comprehensive and will be very useful for any business considering using credit cards within theie business. I look forward to your next post for us.

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    Thank you, Sian.

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    The main drivers of change in the market are regulations, consumer behavior and technology. If more people adopt the technology merchants have no option but to provide terminals that are equipped with NFC. But, Apple Pay is to be used, even in large scale, mainly by the consumers for every day purchases. The bulk of credit card transactions are done where businesses purchase goods and services from other businesses. That’s were digital cards don’t play any role…

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