John, one of my clients, operated a very successful pair of auto dealerships. His personal income approached a million dollars per year, but he was not a happy camper. John hadn't taken a real family vacation in five years. He was on the treadmill of financial success but personal oblivion.

Today, he owns five auto dealerships. His net worth has tripled over the last three years, and his personal income has doubled.

Here's the beauty of this story. Last year, John worked only 150 days! That means he took off 215 days. That free time doesn't represent parts of days; those were whole days off with no cell phone calls, no e-mail responses, no work – period!

Here's what John did: He stopped buying into the notion that financial success required that he become a martyr for his business.

The Eight Steps

I call it personal effectiveness rather than personal productivity for a reason. Productivity implies the efficient use of time – doing more in less time. This is not about that! This is about, as Stephen Covey would say, starting with the end in mind. If you are not willing to seriously consider the kind of life you want to live and adjust your time accordingly, stop here. The rest of this article isn't for you.

I'm not recommending that you adopt a new time management system; very few people adopt new systems wholesale, anyway. What I do recommend is adopting one or more of the following recommendations. Try them on for size; use the "low-hanging fruit" to build momentum for additional change.

Focus your energy on your life's priorities

Among the hundreds of people with whom I've worked on personal effectiveness, the ones who've been most successful develop a plan for their lives that identifies their priorities in the following areas: financial, professional, physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, familial and social. They then plan their calendars and actions around their whole lives.

If you're saying, "easier said than done," you're right; so is anything worthwhile. If you believe you can't do that, you're right again. You can only do what you believe you can do.

Know your strengths and passions and spend your time accordingly

In your personal and work life, spending time attempting to master the things you hate doing or are poor at doing is a complete waste of your time. A friend of mine started a business eight years ago that currently does about $12 million in annual revenue. She used to go crazy trying to master all of the elements of her business. Two years ago, she had an epiphany and changed her approach. Today, she spends her time developing and marketing new products for her business, which is her real strength and passion. In her personal life, she doesn't even pay her own bills. She pays someone to do that. She has completely aligned her life around her strengths and passions.

Delegate, but don't abdicate

Many successful business leaders erroneously believe that delegation is synonymous with abdication. Here's my rule of thumb: Before you delegate, you must have confidence in the competence of the individual or team to whom you are delegating. Further, that competence has to be task and situation specific. Fixing problems created by poor delegation takes lots of time you don't have.

Conduct meetings that are about more than eating donuts

For many business leaders, meeting attendance is their biggest time trap. I know one senior Fortune 200 executive whose solution to that problem is to conduct no meetings.

Here are a few of the many problems with his solution: First, some decisions and solutions require differing perspectives. Second, sometimes getting a consistent message out is served better by communicating it one time to an entire team. Third, effectively building consensus often requires dialogue or debate among members of a team.

Well-run meetings employ meeting management and problem-solving tools effectively. In the former category, I'm talking about agendas, minutes, charters and ground rules. The latter category includes cause and effect diagrams, Pareto charts, force field analysis and nominal group technique, among other tools.

You need to have meetings, but they need to produce results and stimulate relevant action.

Make technology your servant, not the other way around

Your technology should facilitate your effectiveness, not create servitude. If you've conditioned people to expect you to be available 24/7, your priorities will become just more stuff. Many people believe that being connected 100% of the time is a requirement for doing business. In reality, it helps insecure people who create no real value feel relevant. If you've gone down this road, you know what I mean.

You teach people how to deal with you. If you don't, they will interact with you based upon their own set of unarticulated expectations. Remember, "speed" and "effectiveness" are not synonymous.

At the end of the day, put your stuff away

At the end of every day, put everything where it belongs. That includes your hard mail and e-mails. Keeping these two items in in-baskets (real or virtual) does not equate to putting them away. These items should either be delegated, diaried, ditched or done based upon their importance, urgency and whether you are personally the one who should handle them.

Initiate and maintain a program of self-care

If you are taking care of everyone in your life but yourself, start focusing more on you. Diet, exercise, and meditation or reflection, develop your capacity to live "in the moment" and to do so in an effective and healthy way.

Keep all of your commitments

Suffice it to say that you should consider your commitments prospectively and carefully and then keep them religiously.

Copyright 2013 Rand Golletz. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit