What is the most valuable use of your time right now? As I mentioned in my last blog, in my ongoing quest to improve my operational efficiency and personal effectiveness, I encountered this question in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog*.  It is one of three questions that he advised us as readers to ask ourselves regularly to keep ourselves focused on the most important tasks to maximize productivity. For me, it is the one I chose to post on my bulletin board to keep me focused.  But first, I’d like to take a step back to help you figure out how to determine what your most important activities are as a freight agent.

First you need to do what Tracy calls Setting the Table.

  • Decide what you want out of your freight brokerage business and write it down.  Remember a goal is only a wish unless you write it down.  High achievers write things down and then make them happen.
  • List the goals with deadlines, like “I want my book of business to reach $1.5 million by December 2014.”
  • Make a list of everything you personally have to do to achieve your goal.
  • Organize your list into a plan with priorities.
  • Take action immediately.
  • Do something every single day to move yourself toward achieving your major goal.

Our goal is to grow One Horn, without losing the feeling of One Horn Hospitality that our agents love about us, so whatever we do for recruiting, has to be in line with this goal.  With this goal in mind, Tracy has three questions for maximum productivity:

  1. What are your most high value activities? For us it is recruiting, onboarding, and retention.  For you, it might be prospecting for new shippers and talking to existing shippers to keep them aware of your capabilities.
  2. What can you and only you do that if done well will make a real difference? For me it is social media, marketing, and PR for recruiting.  For you it might be cold/warm-calling and networking if you are the face of your agency, and you could hire someone to find the trucks and assign and follow the loads.
  3. What is the most valuable use of your time right now? Tracy claims this is the most important question for time management.  He states that every hour of every day you should ask yourself this question to identify that one task that will move you closer to your stated goal.  For me, it varies.  As I mentioned, depending on the time of day, I schedule important tasks that involve lots of brainpower for my high-energy morning slot, and those more routine tasks that require less brainpower for mid-afternoon when my energy is lower.  So active tasks that further my goal of growing One Horn via recruiting take place in the morning, and easy, more boring accounting-related tasks are scheduled in the afternoon.  If you can figure out when you are truly on your game, do the most important business development tasks at that time of day, and save the administration for later.

Focusing on the last question has enabled me to continuously move toward my growth goal for my company without getting bogged down with administrative matters.  Tracy ends his chapter by quoting Goethe, “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”  Again, in line with his metaphor, this reinforces eating the biggest frog first.  I highly recommend Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!

I hope that by giving examples of my approach will help you identify what you need to do to get things done.  In my next blog, I will talk about a new organizational tool my husband/business partner Louis discovered when he read the book Getting Things Done:  The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen*.  It has truly helped us transform our lives in terms of efficiency and effectiveness!

*Click through for full references on books that inspired us:  http://onehorn.com/agents/get-inspired