Have you ever caught yourself saying “there are not enough hours in the day”? Do you really want to make your day longer? We live in a world of distractions and interruptionsÂ . Mobile phones, emails, faxes, phone calls, friends dropping in etc… And the list goes on. On top of that we are human, and as humans we like to find things we like doing to avoid doing the things we don’t want to do. Sometimes it is the things we don’t want to do that make the biggest difference.
If you have ever done a ‘time management’ course then you will probably have realised by now that you did not learn how to make a 24 hour day into a 25 hour day, nor did you learn how to stop or slow down the clock so you could trick time. Realistically, a ‘time management’ course is all about ‘self management’!
A wise man once said “if you spend all your money you can always make some more, however, spend your time and it is gone forever”. Time is the only real limited resource you have, to be successful you need to learn how to make best use of it. Think about the wealthiest people on the planet, how many hours in a week do they have? Yep… the same amount as YOU! So what makes them so different from you? It is how they use their time that determines their success, the same is true for you. The challenge we face is knowing how to best manage ourselves, and making sure that everything we do will have the largest and most effective impact on achieving our desired goals.
The first step is to be honest with yourself and catch yourself doing ‘avoidance behaviour’. Avoidance behaviour falls into two categories. Firstly, things that are ‘not urgent and not important’. They are things that can wait until another day, and sometimes, things that you never really have to do. These tasks are known as a ‘distraction’. The second category is things that are ‘urgent but not important’. They are usually urgent because you have made them urgent to justify carrying out the task, and will not make a big impact on achieving your goals. This is called ‘delusion’. Using a structured dairy or ‘to-do’ list will help you to avoid ‘avoidance behaviour’.
The next trap is the “putting out fires” syndrome. I am sure you would have days when you feel like you have achieved nothing, yet you were really busy! This is called ‘demand’ and is part of everyday life; these are tasks that are ‘urgent and important’. In business (maybe we should call it busyness) we need to make sure we understand where demand is created and how to control it, otherwise your business or job will control you. Demand happens as soon as the phone rings, as soon as a team member asks a question, as soon as an order is placed… the list could go on forever. Basically, demand tasks are all the things you must do to get through your day. The key to business success is to learn how to leverage yourself so you spend less time in ‘demand, delusion and distraction’ and more time in what I call the ‘Zone’.but important’. These are tasks that will make your life easier and your business run smoother. For example, putting together procedures for new team members to be trained, or working on a budget or marketing plan, will help you to create efficiency, consistency and increased profitability. It will provide you with a long term gain, these tasks are important, but certainly not urgent, and this type of tasks you can get away without doing because there is no demand on you to get them done.
When you are in the ‘zone’ you are spending time on tasks that are ‘not urgent
Here are my top 7 tips to making better use of your time.
1. Create a ‘to-do’ list each afternoon for the next day and prioritise the items on your list to make sure the most important tasks are done first.
2. Use a ‘default dairy’ and set default times to get routine tasks done efficiently.
3. Only check your emails at set time each day, allow a set amount of time for reading and replying.
4. Make a list of all the tasks you currently do and work out who you can delegate some of the lower skill tasks to.
5. Use an agenda for all team meetings and stick to it.
6. Reduce all meeting times by 15 to 30 minutes. You will be surprised at how you still get the same amount covered.
7. Be disciplined, sometimes this means not taking a personal call, or having coffee with a friend until you have all the important tasks for the day completed.