We all know that old adage “Time is Money” but how does that translate into real life?
I will let you in on the secret to Time Management Success – click your heels three times and repeat after me:
THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY! THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY! THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY!
To effectively manage the minutes of our work days (unless you’re an EMT) you have to stop the knee-jerk reaction of responding to every demand as if it is an EMERGENCY!!!!
We’re all pre-wired to focus on those things which demand an immediate response, like alerts on our phones – and to postpone things which are also very most important, for instance taking the time to rest and eat a decent meal, or going to the gym (yes, you know I outsource all of my exercise but some readers actually DO go to the gum!). To gain the upper hand on the chaos that is our daily life we need to reverse that habit, which unfortunately goes against our brain and most of human society.
Let’s start by deeply reviewing how you spend your time on a daily basis. Keep a diary of activity – as detailed as possible – for a full five or 6 day work week. Just jot down what you actually DID during that time. Then block off 30 minutes to really look at how those precious minutes were spent. Are your hours spent on tasks you planned and needed to accomplish? How much of that was derailed by a call, text or email? Revealing, isn’t it???
OK – We’ve identified the challenge – How do we fix that with time management success?
Plain and simple, learn to say NO. Most of us follow an implicit social contract: when someone asks us to do something, we almost always answer: yes. It may feel very noble, but don’t forget we have critical deadlines and other planned tasks to support our businesses – and we just agreed to slow down and change lanes because we were asked nicely. Unfortunately, we may need to sacrifice a little social comfort to give our business the attention it deserves.
Unplug the TV or the… Netflix/DirectTV/YouTube/HBO/tablet/Ipad/Facebook/YouTube/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat or whatever your addiction…If you work from home like many entrepreneurs, professionals or writers – or if you take work home with you – this is the biggest time stealer of all. In fact, it’s our worst enemy!
Kill notifications. Modern technology has evolved to exploit our urgency addiction: email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube will fight to distract you constantly. Yes, it gets me, too! I am the one “liking” your cute puppy posts – I admit it. Fortunately, this is easily fixed: turn off all your notifications. Choose to check these things when you have time to be distracted – say, during a lunch break – and work through them together, saving time.
Schedule your priorities. Humans are interesting creatures and we thrive on being in social setting and groups! If we have a friend to meet, we’ll arrange to see them at a set time. But if we have something that matters to us more than anything – say writing a proposal, researching new technology for our business, or even going to the gym (here we are back with the gym guilt!) – we won’t schedule it. Treat your highest priorities like flights you have to catch: give them a set time in advance and say NO to anything that would stop you from making your flight!
So where do you start? After you complete your review, you need to consider the concept of Time Blocking. Do the task you like the least as the very first thing on that list. If it’s prospecting or cold calling, knock that out while you’re still on your first cup of coffee. After getting the least “fun” To-Do done and checked off, the rest of the day will flow smoothly. Prioritize like crazy – even if it means sacrificing checking on the progress of those little piggy’s making friends with kittens. Seriously.
Less volume, more time. There’s always millions of things you could be doing. The trick is to pick no more than 1 – 3 priority items a day and relentlessly pursue those. The payoff is you get done what matters and your time becomes your own again.
Watch this space for more tips & tricks – … meanwhile, I gotta check on those puppies… what? You thought I was going to the gym?
Upcoming Blog Post: Goal Setting: You Can’t Hit a Moving Target!