This week I want to share with you six time management tricks to help you with time management as a private investigator.
This is something I share with you as a fellow learner. I am not the greatest guy in the world at time management, but I have found these little tricks that help me immensely.
1. Morning Routine
Number one is a morning routine. It’s so popular online these days for people to share their morning routines, to talk about them and to get ideas.
Let me tell you, good, bad or ugly, you should have a morning routine. In fact I would suggest you already do have a morning routine, even if you don’t think you do. But, be sure to look at your routine and make it serve you well!
At first, your morning routine can be as little as one or two things you do.
You don’t have to craft six things or a one-hour process, or even a twenty-minute process in the morning that you gets you bogged down. Think of it more as a checklist that you perform automatically.
For me, my morning routine has evolved very naturally.
Let me suggest, at the very least, you get up and make your bed. I’m a big believer in that.
Admiral McRaven wrote a book called Make Your Bed. Find it. Read it. It’s a very good book. Make your bed in the morning. That’s a starting place for you.
After you do that for a while, you may find you naturally have other tendencies you build into to your routine.
Some of these things may come before you even get out of bed!
You may, when you wake up in the morning and before you even open your eyes, have a routine of prayer. Maybe a gratitude prayer or a prayer for strength throughout the day.
Getting up in the morning, waking up, getting out of bed, tuning yourself in with God and being present and available for what He has for you for you is not a small thing! That’s a great thing to put into your morning routine.
As you go along, you’re going to add more and more things. Maybe some stretching. Whatever it might be, but get a morning routine! This is going to start you out right instead of just meandering into the day.
2. Determine Your Most Important Task of the Day
Number two time management hack for you is to determine what the most important thing is for you to do that day.
What I mean by that is something that’s going to make a difference. Something that’s going to “move the needle” in your life.
What’s that one thing? It’s the thing that if it was the only thing you got done, that’s the thing that’s going to help you move forward.
Specifically, let’s talk business, because that’s what we’re talking about here. The private investigation and business. Identify the one thing that needs to be done today. Not just needs to be done, but the one thing that’s going to move your forward.
Here’s what all small business people do….
They get hung up working “in” their business and they don’t work “on” their business.
You might wake up and know you’ve got to knock out three background checks for the day. And you know you’ve got four process serving packs to deliver. Things like that. That’s working “in” your business.
I want you to think in terms of priorities as to working “on” your business.
Know the one thing that will make a difference if that’s the only thing you get done. I’m going to suggest that’s probably lead generation. Reaching out to potential clients (and probably a bunch of them!) in one way or another. Social media, direct mail, however you’re going to do it.
Identify the most important thing (the thing that’s really going to move you forward for the day). When you hit the bed at the end of the night, you say, “Okay. I got that thing done. That was a big deal.”
3. Virtual Assistant
Number three, which you probably don’t need yet, but maybe you do, is a virtual assistant.
This is something I’ve found very handy for me. And maybe not so much one virtual assistant, but outsourcing things I shouldn’t be “wasting” my time on to people who can do them for me.
If you find yourself doing repetitive things over and over again, then this is something you might want to look for. There are a variety of ways to find this kind of extra help. It takes a little bit of effort. It takes a little bit of time. There will be some missteps. But, once you get it up and running, it’s a real time saver!
There really is a point when you’re doing things that you shouldn’t be wasting your time doing. You’re a skilled investigator. What are you charging? Eighty-five dollars an hour for surveillance? Fifty or sixty-five dollars per process server pack? That’s where you should be spending your time
Think of using a virtual assistant for some smaller things you might have going on. If you’re posting on social media regularly and you need thumbnails, just having an artist that you can reach out to and say, “Here’s the headline. Make a thumbnail that looks good for me.” You don’t have to be searching for images, cropping, re-sizing and all that! You’re a private investigator. Unless you absolutely love doing graphic artist work, you shouldn’t be wasting your time on that! (Hint: Even if you do love doing it, are you using it as an escape from the real work? Should you be doing something else instead?)
No matter how quickly you’re making that thumbnail image, there’s a good chance paying someone else to do it (I’m talking in the five or ten dollar range) is probably money well spent for you.
Think about a virtual assistant for those repetitive tasks that you find chewing up your time.
4. Kill Your Social Media
My number four time management hack for private investigators is to get rid of your social media. Well, okay… don’t get rid of it. Cut back on it. Cut way down on it.
Is social media where you’re spending your time? I get that it can be fun and entertaining. There’s always something cute. You can justify this is how you keep up on things in the industry, your neighborhood or the world, but… If you’re going to be using social media, beware of surfing. Beware of getting sucked down a rabbit hole.
If you’re using it for research, use it for research and get off it!
Let me suggest this. If you’re not going to be able to just stop social media, then schedule it. Scheduled the half an hour or twenty minutes you’re going to use it. Maybe you check it for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night. That type of thing. Cut way back on social media.
5. Kill Your Television
The number five time management hack for private investigators, kill your television.
For crying out loud, whether it’s TV, online videos, or streaming videos, you’re doing too much of that!
Again, I understand the need to unwind. I understand fun. But schedule it. Monitor it.
Maybe record how much you’re watching every day. You’re going to discover that you’re wasting a lot of time on nonsense.
Again, I’m walking the walk with you. No judgment! I don’t even want to know how much time I waste looking for something to watch on streaming media. It’s crazy! You and me both, let’s watch only what we intentionally want to watch and schedule it to avoid binging.
6. Plan Your Day The Night Before
If was making the list in order of priority, this might be number one… Plan you next day ahead of time.
Before you shut down your office and before you go to bed, ask yourself what’s the priority for tomorrow? This goes back to the other tip I had for you, right? Know what your number one thing is. Know the most important thing. This really will help you a lot!
Don’t wake up and try to figure it out. Figure it out the night before.
You can even set up your office to nudge you in the direction of that task!
If you know that writing an email to reach out to clients needs to be done, set that up the night before. Open up the word processor and have it on your computer. When you walk into the office in the morning, there it is! It’s ready for you to knock it out before you get distracted checking the news or whatever else you’re going to do.
Finding the priority the night before is a huge benefit. That alone will help you quite a bit.
I’m wondering if one or two time management tips popped into your mind while reading this. If they did, drop them in the comments. I would love to know!
Every private investigator, process server and security lesson I teach you is something that I know from a position of authority. I’ve done these things for a long time. Time management, well, I’m walking the walk right along with you. We’re in this one together. So drop your ideas in the comments for me and everyone to learn from!
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.