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Are you a time wreck?

Are you a time wreck?

  • Posted: Mar 15, 2014
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By George Clarke – Leading Business Coach and Franchisee of ActionCOACH SA 

Life is more complex than it has ever been with increasing interruptions and demands on our time. As a business coach I see many business owners literally drowning under all the demands.  Their life and business is operating in chaos mode, each day is spent fighting “bush fires”. They are highly stressed and running on adrenaline to get them through most days.

If this sounds like you, you had better read on because unless you take steps to address this you are likely to burn-out yourself and your business. It might not be this year or the next but eventually there will be a price to pay. I believe that mastering your time is one of the most important principles to achieving success in your business.

Feeling in control will increase your peace of mind, self-esteem and confidence. As someone who is passionate about the critical importance of time management I would like to share with you five absolute must do’s that re essential for effective time management.

1. Have Realistic Expectations

The simple fact of the matter is that there is never enough time for us in a day to do all the things we would like or need to do. Therefore, you need to have realistic expectations as to what you can achieve and be highly selective with what you choose to take on.

It is much better to implement one or two strategies in your business very well than seven or eight half completed ones. Unrealistic expectations result in business owners taking on too much, resulting in frustration, stress and reduced self-esteem. Focus on what you are best at, this applies to both your business and you.

2. Select an Appropriate Planning Tool

A good planning tool (diary, CRM, PDA etc) needs to manage four classes of information, Appointments, Tasks, Notes and Contacts. I’m a big fan of the two-page per day diary format which has sections for Appointments, Tasks and Notes. You have a one life and therefore you should have one planning tool.

This comes with a caveat and that is, it’s okay to use a combination of other tools as long as one of the tools is your main planning tool and that the others sensibly integrate with it. For example my main planning tool is my diary, however I use CRM software to manage my contacts and coaching appointments and this is synchronised with my PDA so that I have access to this information when I am out of my office.

3. Plan Your Week

The most important half an hour each week is on a Sunday evening planning my future work week. I refer to a list of files and documents, such as meeting minutes, current project files, monthly master task list etc., to help me select all the tasks I would like

to complete during that week. For tasks greater than 15 minutes I estimate how long they should take and prioritize them. This ensures that I don’t take on more tasks than is realistic and also ensures that I work on my highest priorities first.

4. Plan Your Day

Before you start your day, it’s wise to create and prioritize a list of tasks that you want to complete for the day. For this I refer to my weekly plan and transfer items from this list that I want to work on.  This only takes about five minutes.

5. Continual Learning

As effective time management is an essential skill for personal success it is critical that you continue to study and learn in this area. I have read many books concerning time management and to this day I continue to pick up new tips and methods to improve my time management. Some of my recommended authors include Steven Covey, Brian Tracy, Jennifer White, Kerry Gleeson and Rebecca & Roger Merrill.

Don’t be one of those people that leads a disorganised and chaotic life.  It’s too high a price to pay. Rather enjoy being in control of your life, and the peace of mind, self-confidence and improved self-esteem that comes with it. Start enjoying the benefits today by implementing the five must do’s of effective time management.

For further information contact George Clarke, Business Coach and Franchisee of ActionCOACH on 083 474 2212 or email:



  • Posted: Mar 08, 2014
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By George Clarke – Leading Business Coach and Franchisee of ActionCOACH SA 

Just imagine if your franchise business was like a formula 1 pit team: how successful do you think you would be? Would you be the team manager calmly orchestrating the events from the safety of the pit wall?  Or would you be the one running round fitting new tyres, trying to do every job because you can’t bear to delegate and getting in everybody’s way, but feeling good about yourself because you are busy.  However, the end result is that the car goes out late and with only 3 wheels?

One of the biggest problems for franchise business owners or any business owner is that they convince themselves that being busy is what business is all about and that as long as they are giving their all, then there is not much else that they can do.

While we all know that we need to work smarter rather than harder, the reality is that life always throws us curved balls and we end up reacting to the environment we find ourselves in and going back to our old ways.

The reason for this stems from why we got into business in the first place. When you first buy into a franchise business there is a real buzz, everything is new and exciting and the dreams that you set off with are still clear in your mind. Unfortunately, herein lies the root of our future problems.

When we are busy like this we usually end up running on high amounts of adrenaline. Pumped up, working long hours and overcoming great challenges and with every win we have we make imprints in our subconscious mind, linking working hard with success. These imprints are made deeper by the people we tend to meet, who are usually similar to us, doing the same things and ending with the same results. The downside is that we actually become workaholics.

Just like an alcoholic, we become addicted to the buzz that we get doing what we know is bad for us and the last person to realise what is happening is the person with the problem. Also like an alcoholic, it’s the people around us that suffer the most. Family is neglected; friends become acquaintances and worst of all employees, who provide support, are driven away if they too are not workaholics. This only goes to reinforce the bad habits set by the business owner.

So if you are a workaholic, what do you do? Well, the steps are similar to addressing any addiction.

The first step is always being aware that you are a workaholic. The signs are quite clear and if you need help to see them ask somebody close to you to be honest with you. Some of the more obvious ones are:

  • Struggling to sleep at night because your mind does not stop
  • Getting stressed and losing your temper at relatively minor things
  • Starting things and not finishing them
  • Working late at night or at the weekend when those around you seem to be off enjoying themselves
  • Finding yourself being accused of not listening to other people.

Once you are aware that there is a problem you then have to take ownership of the situation. There is no point in blaming anybody apart from yourself. You can’t blame your franchisor, your team, the bank, the Government, the economy or your customers. The good news is – that where you will be in the future will be a direct result of the decisions and actions you take now.

So, what can you actually do to help wean yourself off your ‘workaholics’? The first thing is to be really clear what sort of life you want to lead.  How many hours per week, days per year you want to work, what will your team do for you and what would you rather be doing instead of working all the time? This is really important because if you don’t have something you would prefer to do, you will always end up doing what you are doing now, even if deep down you don’t feel fulfilled by it.

Now that you know what you want, decide the time scale in which you want this to happen.  Then plan out what needs to happen each quarter in order for you to get there.

Remember, it takes 21 times to create a good habit and the longer you have been a workaholic, the longer it will take you to change your many bad habits.

Finally, be honest with yourself and admit it when you need help and embrace it.  Remember, other people will see you fall back into your old ‘busyness’ habits far sooner than you will.

So go on, rev up your business, work on it and not in it, and get yourself out of the pit.

For further information contact George Clarke, Business Coach and Franchisee of ActionCOACH on 083 474 2212 or email:

The Power of Coaching for Business Growth

The Power of Coaching for Business Growth

  • Posted: Mar 01, 2014
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By George Clarke – Leading Business Coach and Franchisee of ActionCOACH SA 

According to a national survey by Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (Comensa), 90 percent of coached clients rated their relationship with their coach as good to brilliant with 61 percent rating the experience invaluable.  Most organisations surveyed say they embraced a coaching culture only in the last one to three years.

Having a business coach is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. It’s possible to survive without a coach, but it’s difficult to thrive. Based on sound sales, marketing and business management systems, coaching sees business revenues and profits increase – often quite dramatically. The coaching process is structured to provide business owners and executives with short-term assistance and long-term training via a mentoring approach. But it’s far from an easy way out. A coach can see the wood as well as the trees. They will listen, make you focus on the game, make you run more laps than you feel like running, tell it to you like it is and give you ideas you hadn’t thought of.  

A coach can be a marketing manager, a sales director, a training co-ordinator, partner, confidant and a mentor. The crux is that there are no guarantees. As he business owner, you are the player and it’s up to you to take the field. A coach will push you, cajole you, help you, be there for you and even do some things with you – but you have to do most of the work. Only you can be accountable for your success.

It’s interesting to note that business owners are usually the ones who are holding their businesses back. Usually a business reflects the mind-set of its owner. Most start with a huge passion for what they do. Then they hit problems, what I call, the three legs of the potjie – time, team and money.  A lack of time, people skills and usually cash-flow.  The other problem is destination mastery. As a business owner, if you don’t know where you are going, you sure won’t know how to get there. If you have no plan for your life – and very few people do – how do you know how your business will serve you? Most people serve their businesses instead of the other way around.

Business owners often don’t have the opportunity to take a step back and look at the whole picture. So a coach does this for the business owner. They give objective feedback and focus on the reality without any of the emotion. A business owner needs that independent perspective.

Business coaching takes what seems like an impossible business goal, and gives clarity of perspective. A coach walks the path with a business owner. They cut through the emotions and focus on the business objectives. After all, businesses are made up of people and people have relationships. Where there are relationships, there are always problems.

Business coaching assists with every sphere of the business to ensure that proper systems are in place and to make sure the business owner remains focused on the company’s objective, which is to succeed, to be profitable and to grow.

The more gifted people are, the bigger their need for coaching. Leading surgeons and medical specialists, for example, are experts in their fields, but this does not mean that they know how to run a business. Accountants, lawyers and

engineers also haven’t acquired the business skills to run their practices. You can’t go to university to learn how to run a business.

The core of every business is the same. It’s about driving up revenue and serving a need profitably. Business coaching unpacks this for the business owner, takes what’s complex about running a business and breaks it down to its simplest components so that the business owner can move forward.

Information and availability is no longer a differentiator in business. Everyone has the same amount of information at his or her disposal. The difference is in the person who can find four or five key insights and implement that information at twice the pace of his or her competition. Business owners also have to find a way to free up time and do more work instead of spending time in meetings. People have to learn how to get their priorities right, otherwise they become like rats on a treadmill.

The higher you are up the food chain, the less people you have who you can talk to. So who do you bounce ideas off? You’re the one being held accountable. You’re at the top… Business is a lonely place today. People need somebody to talk to – and that’s where executive and business coaching comes in.

The business world is changing at such a pace that if a business owner doesn’t grow and develop with it, they won’t get further. Businesses need an effective process to assist with direction and break through to the next phase.

For further information contact George Clarke, Executive & Business Coach and Franchisee of ActionCOACH on 083 474 2212 or email: