Today’s guest is Stephen Turner, CEO and Founder of Turner Time Management & Marketing. We discuss the important of managing your time, and in particular, how to manage your email and your schedule.
With a background in technology and nearly 30 years of business experience, Stephen has spent the last seven years sharing technology and time management tools, techniques and tips with thousands of professionals across the country.
His speaking, training and coaching has helped many organizations increase the productivity of their employees. He has significant experience of working with independent sales and marketing agencies and his proven ability to leverage technology is of great value to anyone in need of greater sales and/or productivity results.
In today’s episode you’ll learn:
- What is time management?
- What are the signs of poor time management?
- How managing your email and your schedule can improve your life?
- What tools you can use?
- A lot of time management tips and tricks…
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business podcast.
Today, my guest is Steve Turner. Steve is an expert in time management. We’re going to talk today about how you can boost your personal productivity. As we know, I don’t do very good introductions. I like to let my guests do them instead. Why don’t we bring Steve on and he could tell us a little bit about himself.
Hey, Steve. How are you today?
Steve: Doing great, Josh. Thank you for having me.
Josh: My pleasure. Tell me, what is it that you actually do? How do you go about doing it?
Steve: Sure. Yeah, that’s a question that comes up. Turner Time Management, what’s that all about? Well, the reason my company exists is because people in the business world – many business professionals don’t have enough time in their day. While it is actually accurate we can’t create more time, we could certainly be more efficient with the time we have.
And so, kind of the best way to explain what I do is to explain why the company exists. It exists because back in 2003 I was vice president for a company called Clover Technologies Group which actually started in a gentleman’s garage back in the mid-90s. It’s a very large global corporation now. The man that’s leading that, Jim Cerkleski, had me in charge of sales and marketing. I was working with one of our customers on the phone and he said, “Hey, Steve. Did you get my email?” I don’t know if anybody’s ever asked you that question but—
Josh: I’ve never been asked that question.
Steve: –but my response was probably what many people have given, “I think so. Yeah, I think I got it.” And he said, “Well, I sent you two emails on Friday, Steve. It’s Tuesday morning and you haven’t responded to either one.” To which, I responded, “Well, I’ve been out of the office traveling on business.” This man actually said to me, a man named Marx Acosta Rubio, he said, “Steve, so what?” And I said, “So what?” He said, “Yeah, I said so what, Steve? I didn’t hire you or your company to find out you don’t have control of your technology.” That really kind of took me aback. I was really mortified. He goes, “How many emails do you have in your inbox, Steve?” I was afraid to tell him. He said, “Please, you’ve got to tell me. I want to know.” At the time I had 350 and I said, “350.” By the way, Josh, we’ve worked with clients that have way more than 350 in their inbox.
Josh: Yeah, so have I.
Steve: I have one guy that has 60,000 in his inbox. That pales I comparison to some customer–
Steve: 60— I didn’t know you could have that many in your inbox, Josh. Anyway, there’s actually somebody else over a hundred thousand.
Anyway, the point is that I was not efficiently managing my technology. Then he sent me a tape series by a gentleman named David Allen who does something really good. It reminds me a lot of Franklin Covey in the time management world. It’s called Getting Things Done. He has some great tips and some things that I really wanted to embrace.
For me, the problem was responding to the email, following up on email, and really managing my time from a daily perspective. I wasn’t as concerned about sharpening the saw or those types of things that a lot of systems talk about. I was concerned about how do I get through the day.
And so, the customer made the investment, sending me the tape series. I listened to it every day on the way to work. It was actually a CD series. What it didn’t help me do is get through email or dealing with technology more effectively, right? That was my challenge.
Josh: Let’s talk about that a little bit. By the way, I’m also a huge fan of Getting Things Done. I’ve been using that strategy for years and years in my own business. I actually make all my clients use it because one of problems I see that almost every business owner has is they do a terrible job of managing their personal time.
Josh: What would you recommend people do to manage their inbox because that’s a huge deal?
Steve: Oh yeah, it’s a huge deal. I was the classic case in point who didn’t. The thing to start with is that email is a necessary part of our business just as texting is becoming, Josh. Social media, even, is becoming an integral part of people’s business. If you don’t respond on all those channels, you’re in trouble.
But here’s the crucial thing. And this is the thing that I came to understand was I didn’t have to be behind the “proverbial” eight ball all the time. The thing that gets people off track, more often than not, and when I ask this question, I ask this virtually of all my clients, “What do you think the worst thing to do first thing in the morning – very first thing in the morning? If you want to enhance your productivity, what do you think the worst thing to do is?”
Josh: I can answer that for you.
Steve: What is it?
Josh: Check your email.
Steve: Exactly, right. But yet, guess what, that’s what I was doing. That’s what many people do. Guess what, next thing you know, people are going – if you’re in an office, “Hey, do you want to go to lunch?” And you’re saying, “What? It’s lunch time?” Why is that happening? That’s because email forks in a million different directions and we start doing something we’re not very good at as humans and that’s we start multitasking. We start trying to do two things that require our active focus at the same time and that totally distracts us.
Another gentleman that I met just a few months ago, actually in January, I was doing some training for the CPMR (Certified Professional Manufacters Representatives Organization) a company – an organization called Mrerf. A gentleman named Curt Steinhorst. He has a book where he has two cellphones, one to each ear, and it says, “Can I have your attention?” Curt deals with this active focus issue. He brings it to people’s attention that you really can’t do two things at once, but that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to be on the phone and responding to email.
And so, the first thing to do is that we’ve got to put a stake in the ground and start off managing your time and then manage your email. If you don’t know what you’re going to do during the business day yet or there’s too much that’s shifted, you better make sure where you are and then see how email changes that. That’s not going to be an hour or two hours. We’re talking 5 to 15 minutes to make sure you’re set and then see how email changes that landscape, if that makes sense.
Josh: What do you mean by that? I’m going to spend 10 or 15 minutes doing what?
Steve: Well, there’s a concept that I’ve used and adopted several years ago called 15 save 16. Basically, what the concept says is, if you take 15 minutes to do anything in a planning fashion, you’re going to wind up saving yourself an hour of work. For a salesperson, it might be planning that next sales call, or presentation, or the next trade show if you’re in marketing. But whenever it is, when you take the time to plan it, it’s going to pay you dividends because you’re going to have cut off a lot of problems at the pass. And so, when it applies your business day, when it applies to taking your personal productivity back, Josh, that all starts with how you start your day.
Josh: I would say that’s true unless you’re somebody like me. I actually plan my week out a whole weekend in advance.
Steve: And so, then, what that morning review becomes is not a full planning session but it becomes a mini-planning session to just make adjustments for whatever information or data has come in since the last time you reviewed your schedule, until now. And so, it’s sort of this dynamic updating. People used to have these paper calendars on their desk and what you put on that calendar was going to happen. But the business world today is so dynamic and so fluid, that can’t even apply anymore, because our calendars change too frequently.
Josh: I’m going to push back a little bit on that because I frankly think that we let circumstances manage us and not us manage our circumstances. We think that everything is an emergency. The truth is very few things require your immediate attention. Almost anything that comes across my desk can be dealt with three, four, or five hours later. If not, a couple of days later, as long as I’m clear with the person about when they can expect a response.
Steve: We’re in total agreement about that. What I’m referring to, when I say the calendar is fluid, I’m referring to the fact that there’s going to be things that are going to change. There’s going to be opportunities that come up. I’m not really suggesting that we should be changing our calendar as often as we can. What I’m suggesting is that there might be opportunities to move appointments up or move them back. And so, if somebody calls you, that’s an interruption. And, you know, what’s interesting– this is another conversation, but one of the age groups that really dislikes interruption, do you know who that is?
Josh: It’s the millennials.
Steve: It’s the millennials, right?
Steve: I’m sure you’ve talked about it in another podcast. It’s that their culture, what they’re used to is instant information. They can get the information anytime they want to, so why call me and interrupt me?
My point is, but when we’re in the business world and we’re getting interrupted, it’s how we deal with those interruptions that are so crucial. Instead of letting that interruption take me off track, that’s where I’ll use things like for a business professional would use the Outlook Media request or the Google Calendar to set a time to deal with whatever is resulting from that interruption. That’s what I mean by the calendar being fluid. I’m not necessarily dropping everything right that minute to address it but I’m setting some specific time to address it because if somebody has a big enough issue to call, text or email me, then I better address it at my earliest convenience. That’s clearly what I wasn’t doing back in 2003.
Josh: I have to say that I was doing that 30 years ago. I think that people today are paying a little bit more attention to time management because there’s so many more interrupters today than there were back then.
Josh: I think that one of the things that’s probably important for us to really be thinking about, especially for owners of small privately-held businesses, is– I want to ask your opinion about this is, before you get into an engagement or an arrangement or a relationship with somebody, I call it the communication preferences conversation which basically is “How fast can you expect an answer to an email from me? How fast can you expect an answer to a phone message? And how fast can you expect an answer to a text?” For example, I hate text. And I tell people, I say, “If you want a fast response, texting is not the best way to do it because I don’t have any alarm on around the text. But if you email me, because I check my email five or six times a day, you’re likely to get a faster response.” What’s your thoughts about setting up parameters for how you expect to be communicated with and how you expect to communicate with others?
Steve: That’s a great point. I think that establishing—
I’ve got a client down in Texas by the name of Karey Clemens with an organization called Forbes, Hever & Wallace. They actually are making that effort to ask their customers, “How best do you want us to communicate with you?” I think that, in this business world, it’s pretty apropos. It could be depending upon your level of communication. I think it really depends on the actual circumstance and individual, but I think it’s good to establish that when you can upfront. When it’s not done, it’s good to answer in, if you’re doing some sort of a business review or sort of audit, to establish it then to kind of put that it in there. Let’s set the parameters.
Now, I’ve presented to people and they’ve heard this rule about email management about only check your email a few times a day or turn it off after whatever time. You and I, Josh, know that’s not realistic for most people. And so, as a result, you really have to let your customers help you determine – I wouldn’t say dictate, but determine what’s the best communication strategy and what’s the best frequency. And so, that’s kind of very widely depending upon who you’re talking with.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely.
Steve: I think that it’s pretty subjective and pretty subjective in the sense that you want to make sure it’s at the customer’s response rate, right? But it’s subjective in the sense that it’s different for each customer. I will say this though, I will say that what the smartphone has done – to a certain extent, Josh, it has really created an era where people have created their own problem by responding to text messages when they’re out with their family at 8:30 at night to their customer. Now, their customer expects it. And so, they’ve set that expectation.
Josh: I agree with that. It’s just crazy that we’re on 24 hours a day which is not what anybody really wants. If you actually ask somebody about that, they say, “Well, I didn’t really expect you to respond.”
Steve: Yeah. And to that point, one of the things that I say in a training or a speaking engagement, or even when I’m coaching one-on-one will be, “I know you’re not going to look back and say after you’re done with our training, “Gee, I wish I spent more time on my smartphone.” My goal is to [laughs]– it’s going to be those things that were important to you. It’s going to be your family. It’s going to be your spiritual relationship. It’s going to be whatever it is that’s going to keep you off point from being able to look back and said, “Well done.” That’s why I’m so zealous for helping people get out of this technology situation where they don’t have to be afraid of it. It can work in their advantage.
Josh: What’s your favorite tip? Your top two or three tips that you give people so they stay out of that?
Steve: I would say, well, number one is, don’t go into email first thing. Take between 5 to 15 minutes. Make sure you have the information that you want and need before you jump into email and see how it changes it. That’s number one.
Number two is, get good with technology. You don’t have to become a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs but you have to realize there’s so many tools built into the phone and the laptop or the hybrid tablet device that people aren’t taking advantage of. You know, we’re doing some training for a company called XL Catlin. One of the presidents of one of their groups said he was amazed and actually a bit saddened by how much Microsoft Outlook did that he didn’t know about. The first 10 minutes, we kind of “blew him away” with all the things that he could do. It’s kind of learning that this technology— it’s like driving your car in second gear all the time and realizing, “Oh, wow, there’s a gear shift there. I could’ve gone into third and fourth gear,” right? And so, we want to encourage and educate people and coach them how to use those tools more effectively.
The third thing, I would say, is in the – look for your comments. The third thing I would say is use the calendar because the calendar as far as I know, in the past 12 years, doing this professionally, is the only tool that I know that can help keep me on point with what I need to do next. If it’s not on the calendar, there’s a greater likelihood it’s not going to get done. That’d be my top three.
Josh: Yeah. We call that time blocking.
Josh: Especially in the morning because that’s when we tend to be most productive, except in rare— there are some people more productive at midnight than first in the morning but that’s the exception not the rule. If you time block your first three hours or so of the day, you’re likely to get more produced in those three hours than you do in the next five to seven hours.
Steve: Well said. Yeah, I absolutely agree with that.
Josh: At least that’s been my experience. The things that require a lot of brain energy or focus was writing my book, I would take an hour every morning and that’s the first thing I’d do was I would write for an hour. The book actually got done because of that.
Steve: That’s a great point, Josh.
And then there are some people though – and I’m sure you and I both know them, that they are more of a “night owl” and they do some of their best work later in the day or maybe in the evening. And so, it’s really catering to that or leveraging that physiology in how you’re kind of wired or set up at that moment to be most effective and capitalize on that. I absolutely agree with you. For most people, it’s the morning. I know that’s the way for me too.
Josh: Most people, it’s the morning. But there are people– some people are afternoon, some people are evening, and some people are true night owls but the truth is you just need to know when it is for you and then take advantage of that time to do the things that will have the highest value for you and the most productivity.
Steve: I agree.
Josh: You have one thing here which I’m really curious about that I want to get some information about. What is quick information retrieval?
Steve: Quick information retrieval. There’s been quite a few studies done all the way from Microsoft to McKinsey. They’ve found that people are literally spending hours every week searching for information. It might be a text message. It might be an email. It might be a file or a document.
And so, one of the things that we really focus on pretty hard is showing people that that literally can be done within a minute or less. Usually, 30 seconds or less. It’s all about your search criteria and leveraging the search tool you have, whether it being on your phone or your computer tablet. Most people have never been given any instruction on that. They’ve been given a computer and say, “See yah. Call us if it breaks down.” We’re sort of that missing link or that piece to kind of fill that in.
We’ve found that when you educate people properly in using the search tools features and functions, you can literally reduce that search time that they’re spending everyday down to just minutes. Our typical training – I was going to say training coaches, is going to save anybody from anywhere from a half hour to two hours a day. Search is definitely one of those things that impacts that greatly.
Josh: What tools do you recommend for searching both on a PC and a Mac?
Steve: Yes. Well, first of all, I believe the best email platform is Microsoft Outlook. That has, built into it, the search tools so there’s nothing else to get. The search tool actually on the Mac version of Outlook is even a little bit better in my opinion than the one on the Windows PC version.
Josh: I’ve got to tell you, we use Gmail for our email in our company. The Mac version of Outlook is horrible.
Steve: Well, if you’re using the Outlook 2011 version, it is. The 2016 version is better. I’m referring simply to the search portion of it – the search portion of the latest version of Outlook. They’re going to be updating that.
The gentleman who’s running Microsoft now, Mr. Nadella, is really attentive to making sure your experience is best on whatever platform you’re on. I appreciate that but I would agree that it’s not up to snuff as compared to the Windows version but the searching is good.
The point is that if you have the ability to select multiple criteria, Josh, when you’re searching, that’s what most people don’t do. They come in and put somebody’s name in, for instance, when they’re for an email, and then they cycle through all that person’s emails. That’s the least efficient way. You want to put in two or three things – something that you know is in subject line, the first and hopefully last name of the person it’s from, and then some more details to help narrow your search. You want to get under 10 or so. If your search is 20 to 30 results and you’re too broad, you need to put more criteria in to reduce it. Unfortunately, people, instead of doing that, they just wind up searching through miles and miles of results and that’s what costs them a lot of time.
Josh: That’s searching for emails. What about searching for files? That’s where I spend half my life doing.
Steve: Understood. And so, file management is not that different in the fact that the Windows system – in terms of the business productivity, I think the Windows platform, in my humble opinion and it is my opinion, that it’s better for high-volume processing or searching or whatever type of business task you’re looking for. In Windows 10, for instance, there’s some nice search tools built in, including the ability to click on and look specifically by file type. You can do a *.pdf, for instance, to see all the pdf’s in a folder. Or you can use the actual built-in headings that enable you to control what type of file you’re looking at.
The other thing that’s really big, especially in searching for documents, is putting quotes around the phrase, or the sentence, or the title that you’re looking for. The reason why that’s important, because if you don’t put quotes around that phrase or title, what happens is it looks for all those words in every disparate location within the document and its attachments. And so, when put quotes around it, it narrows that search to only that specific phrase or title and you’ll find your results much, much quicker.
Hey, Steve, unfortunately, we are out of time. I’m going to bet there are some people who are listening today that would love to find out a little bit more information about how they can find you because they just might need some help with what you do.
Steve: Well, I appreciate that, Josh. So yeah, so quickly, our website is www.turnertimemanagement.com. We actually have a link right on the homepage because people are busy, you can set a coaching or a web demonstration with us right from the phone that ties live into our calendars. If the time is available, we’d love to speak with you and help you out.
Josh: Great. Thanks so much for your time.
I also have an offer for you. I have a book which I’ve published in January but it’s still for sale. Well, it probably will be for sale for a long time because it’s a parable so it’s kind of time listening. It’s called Sustainable: A Fable About Creating a Personally and Economically Sustainable Business. It’s really easy to get. You just have to go to www.sustainablethebook.com. There’s a big orange button on the homepage. You press that or you click on it and you would go to a sales page and you get to buy the book. If you buy it off our site, you get a free 20-minute coaching call with me as well as a 37-page ebook on how implement the things we talk about in Sustainable.
This is Josh Patrick. We’ve been with Steve Turner today. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon at The Sustainable Business. See you guys later. Bye.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at email@example.com.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.