No Excuses List

It’s been a few weeks since I shared my time tracking spreadsheet with our readers (if you haven’t requested your copy, click here), and in these weeks I implemented a few new changes for my time tracking. Namely, I’m tracking ALL business related activities whether internal tasks or for clients. As a result of this tracking I have become more productive with my time and have begun developing a “No Excuses List” for my use as well as for the use of our consultants.

A “No Excuses List” shouldn’t be hard for anyone to follow if they have implemented various tracking systems. In fact, the first item on the no-excuses list is…

1.  Visible To-Do List

No Excuses List - To Do ListHave one and keep it updated.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many different systems I have used for a to-do list. While all have worked – to an extent – for the past few weeks I have been using my task list in Microsoft Outlook. This task list has received the most attention, at a constant frequency, than any other to-do list method I have ever used. Why? I’m in Outlook all-day, everyday responding to emails. Try as I may, I can’t ignore its presence.

My to-do list includes client tasks as well as internal tasks, and I am sure to include/mark recurring tasks. At the beginning of every day I review the list and update any recurring tasks that didn’t get completed the day before.

Yes, it happens. Some tasks don’t get completed. However because I am tracking my time I know that I was as productive as I could possibly have been. With the no excuses list, you have no excuse for not remembering what what on your to-do list.

This leads me to…

2. Track Your Time

No Excuses List - Time TrackingHow are you going to measure your productivity if you have no way of measuring how many hours you actually worked?

And, no! I’m not talking about measuring in way such as, “Well… I got to my office at 9am and left at 5pm so I worked for 8 hours.” You and I both know this wasn’t actually the case. There were restroom breaks, PERSONAL social media check-ins, personal phone calls from your kids/significant other/other friends/family, doctors appointments, lunch hour, other miscellaneous breaks, etc. And if you work at home the personal breaks may be even more frequent/less intentional.

Oh! I need to go put some laundry in!

There goes another 5-10 minutes.

Track the time you actually spend working during the day. Personally, I use my Freshbooks Time Tracker. It’s always open for client work, however if you are not using it for your business, you can get a free version purely for time tracking by clicking here. (Do they market it this way? No. But it’s free up to a certain number of customers/clients so you might as well take advantage of it!)

3. Your Email Inbox Should Read 0 New Emails

Kim SuttonNo, I don’t mean you should be monitoring your email 24 hours a day. However your inbox should NEVER say you have 10,000 unread emails. Unless you are out of the office on vacation, holiday or due to sickness, your unread email count should always be reasonable.

Do you have an email you don’t plan on reading for a few days? Delete it! Chances are you won’t ever get back to it, especially if you have others you are marking to read later on.

To make it easy – Client and other important emails I always take care of same day. Emails I’m not concerned enough about to read today I delete. Voila, my unread email count stays under 20 except for under the circumstances listed above. Currently my inbox has 7 unread emails, and that’s only because my LinkedIn Group updates came in while I was writing this article.

With an inbox containing 0 new emails, my no excuses list helps my communication. The only “excuse” I have for not responding or following up to an email is if I legitimately did not receive it.

4. Calendar Clean-Up

Do you have a calendar system that you use and maintain regularly? I use Outlook for my email, however I use Google calendar to keep my days in order. If you don’t have an electronic calendar set up, go do it. NOW.

Following are my top three selling points for an online calendar:

•  Dave (my husband and business partner) does not currently use Outlook, however he has full-viewing rights to my Google calendar.

• I recommend most our Virtual Assistant clients use Google Calendar so that we may view their calendar AND schedule appointments for them (as needed).

• I rarely schedule appointments for myself, and it’s not because nobody wants an appointment. It’s because I have too many appointment requests and I implemented a system to avoid endless rounds of email or phone tag to find a time that works for everyone. Want an appointment with me? Schedule it yourself using my appointment scheduling system, Appointy. This wouldn’t be possible if my calendar wasn’t kept up updated.

Seeing as my productivity has increased, I am working on implementing additional systems for increased productivity based on the reading I have had time to do . Yes, I have had time to read. Yes, I am developing additional systems to further my productivity.

What are YOU doing and what is on your no excuses list? Do you have a no excuses list? Part of our Business Consulting service includes (upon request) evaluating our clients’ productivity and business systems. Are you interested in finding ways you can become more productive in your business? If so, fill out this webform and we will get back to you within 2 business days!

With your success in mind,

Kim Sutton


Kim SuttonKim Sutton is the Managing Partner and Chief Everything Officer of The Sutton Companies, including Sutton Strategic Solutions and Sutton Creative Studios.  She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture.

An avid reader and passionate learner, Kim is constantly researching, studying and developing business improvement strategies. When it comes to client work, Kim especially enjoys helping her clients develop innovative marketing strategies and sales funnels, particularly when they are using Infusionsoft to automate all the heavy lifting. To find out how you can further develop your company’s marketing and automation strategies schedule a 1-hour Business Boost Strategy Session by clicking here.

In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and five children. She also enjoys reading, knitting, writing and playing video games.

Get a copy of Kim’s FREE guide, “10 Top Tools for Small Businesses” by clicking here.


About Kim Sutton

Kim is the CEO of The Sutton Companies, including Sutton Strategic Solutions and Sutton Creative Studios. She is married to her best friend and soul mate, Dave, and together they have six children.
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