The fascinating paradox.
We want more of – it but we have all that there is. We talk about “managing “ it, yet the second and minute hands move constantly -oblivious to our concerns or needs.
This month’s article is another audience participation two-parter. “Time management “ has been a key part of my business since its inception. This month’s article will focus on Michael’s Top Ten Time Tips. Next month it will be your turn but more about that later. Let’s get to the Top Ten.
Michael’s Top Ten Time Tips
TIP #1 Successful time management is little more than prioritizing what you do based on what you say you value.
And how do we know what you value? It’s pretty simple. Where you put your time and your resources, determines what you value. Watch your life as if it were a silent movie. What you do, not what you say, will tell you most of what you need to know about what it is you deem important.
TIP #2- Focus on “Why” not “What.”
Most of our focus on time centers around “what” questions (“What do I have to do?” What are you doing?”) or “when” questions (“When are you going to be finished?” “When will that project be ready?”). No doubt these are important questions. However, they aren’t the most important question you should be asking.. The most important question is “Why.” “Why am I doing what I’m doing and why am I doing it right now?” Ask that question throughout the day and be brutally honest with your answers. You’ll be amazed at how that question and the answers you give can transform a day.
TIP #3- In a day you can do a “day’s worth.”
No two days are the same. Some days you have unbelievable focus and accomplish an enormous amount. Other days you’re lucky to make it to the evening without burning down the building. The problem arises when we try to make one of our perfect days the standard for every day. That sets us up for failure. Take each day as it comes and remember all you have to do is wake up tomorrow and you get another turn.
TIP #4- The reason you write stuff down is not to make sure you remember it. The reason you write stuff down is so you can forget it.
Say what? Let me repeat – The reason you write stuff down is not to make sure you remember it. The reason you write stuff down is so you can forget it. On Monday I may get a phone call about something I need to do next Thursday. In my organizer, I flip to next Thursday and I immediately write it down. Now I can “forget” about it until its time to “remember” it.
TIP #5- Tasks tend to take 25 to 50 percent longer than we think.
Years ago I was scheduled to fly with a client for a weekend of strategic planning. I was not sure how far his office was from the airport, but I was sure the time of departure was quickly approaching. When I asked how long it would take to get to the airport he inquired, “How long before our flight leaves?” “Eighteen minutes.” I answered. “Then it’ll take less than eighteen minutes.” was his reply. (In the pre-security check days you really could run to catch your plane. Which we did.)
Most things we plan don’t work out as well as that flight. People are late to meetings, the lights don’t turn green when we need them to, and materials get misplaced. Building in a cushion of time will help eliminate some of these unwanted surprises.
TIP #6 The problem may be not what you’re doing but when you’re trying to do it.
You see, as it turns out, we all have energy cycles throughout the day. Knowing what yours are can greatly affect how you plan your day. Are you a morning, afternoon, or evening person? Do you feel energized after lunch or do you feel like taking a nap? Knowing when you have the most energy and saving the hardest jobs for that time will often allow you to do twice as much in half the time.
TIP #7 The unstated goal of other people is to convince you, as often as humanly possible, that their important should become your urgent.
And now you know one of the main reasons it’s so hard to get stuff done when other people have access to your time. So how do you tell the difference? I think it’s quite simple. Everybody thinks what they’re doing is important. I mean it’s at least important to them for some reason. Urgent is another matter. When something is urgent, it normally means that if something isn’t done very soon, there are going to be natural, logical consequences no one wants to see. This is one of those areas where we have to use our old friend common sense and ask ourselves, ”What is the worst thing that will happen if nothing is done about this problem right now?”
TIP #8- When organizing stuff, remember like things live together and everything has a home.
Think about the most organized room in a disorganized person’s house. It’s the kitchen. The spoons don’t live with the plates. They live with other spoons. The frozen food isn’t sitting around on the counter. It lives in the freezer. See, like things live together and everything has a home. Take your like stuff and put it with other like stuff. That way you won’t have to spend a lot of time looking for things when you need them.
TIP #9- Encourage others to be very specific in identifying the topic of their e-mail.(i.e. “Agenda for 10/6 Meeting” as opposed to “Hi.”)
Now this one is for real. In an age of spy ware and viruses, if you don’t identify yourself you may very well end up in the trash. I recently had a client tell me of an important email that was almost trashed because the person didn’t identify himself. So from now on make sure that email message line has name, rank, and serial number.
TIP #10- If you are having trouble managing your time or your stuff, find someone who appears to have mastered that thing you struggle with.
Ask them the secret of their success and mimic what they tell you. Which leads us to next month’s article………