Time, “The Great Equalizer”
By Greg A. Pestinger
Last month, we talked about the people you surround yourself with to help guide you along your path to success. The mentors, coaches and accountability buddies that help you get there, make you better and never allow you to settle for “average”.
This month, I want to talk about “time”, our most precious resource. The great equalizer for all of us, once it’s gone it’s gone and you can never get it back.
I have learned this first hand and have had it reaffirmed to me over and over by my clients in my business coaching practice. By far, a common theme and the number one stressor of each is time, more especially “not enough time”. It’s a simple fact of life that there is never enough time to get it all done. Successful people don’t get it all done either, but they have learned how to focus on getting the most important things done in the time they have.
So how exactly do we get the most out of the limited time we have to achieve our greatest dreams and in turn reach our full potential?
1. Time Management, “Own It” – You must first take responsibility for managing your time. If you are constantly making excuses for “not enough time” or accepting that you will always be behind, then you will. If you decided to make managing your time a priority and visualizing yourself completing your most important tasks to achieve your goals you will find that to be your reality. Step one, take responsibility for your own time and get going.
2. Focus on Your Most Important Goal – The Law of Forced Efficiency says, “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” What is your most important goal, that goal that has the greatest impact on your success? Work on this goal first until complete before moving on the next one.
3. Know Where Your Time Goes – Do you know where you spend your time in a typical day? On average we waste almost half our day doing things that really don’t matter. A simple method for tracking your time is to keep track for a week of all your activities in 15-minute increments from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. When complete group your time into 6 or so categories. What percent of your time is spent in each? Which activities help you move toward your most important goal? Which ones are a total waste of time? Be honest with yourself, knowing how you spend your time is the first step.
4. Plan Your Day – A great time management process starts with planning. One minute of planning is said to save 10 minutes of execution. Plan your year at the end of the prior year, your week the weekend before, your day the night before. Prior planning programs your brain to start working on your most important activity first. The tool I like most for this is a “Block Calendar”. This strategy requires a commitment from you to work at scheduled times on large tasks that deliver on your most important goal. Your ability to create and carve out these blocks of high value, highly productive time, is central to your ability to make a significant contribution to your work and to your life.
5. Prioritize, Make a List – List in and of themselves are not the answer, lists that have been prioritized and focus your efforts on achieving your most important goal are. First apply the 80/20 rule to your list, 20% of the tasks that lead to 80% of your results. We all believe that everything we do is important but in fact, most of what we do is not. Once we have identified what is important it’s time to prioritize. A good method for this is to determine what is urgent and what is important. Priority 1 tasks are important and urgent, they require immediate action. Priority 2 tasks are those that are important but not urgent, they must be completed but can be pushed back for a while. The remainders are neither important or urgent and should be delegated to others or simply discarded altogether. Some of these items may bring joy to your life, ie. talking with a friend and can be completed when time allows.
6. Eliminate the Noise – Life is not always so simple and with it comes noise including priorities on other people’s lists that you are being asked to complete. The first is usually found when your boss or a customer delegates work to you. By definition, this is important because the consequences of not performing can be severe. The question to ask, “is it urgent?” Not all items are urgent and your ability to understand the timing of the task is key to your success. Similar but different are other people in your life delegating their work to you. In some instances, this may be important and most likely not urgent. Learning to say no altogether, or with a condition, or by postponing the task is one of the best time management skills you can put in place. Have you identified the noise in your day, the things that take up a lot of time yet contribute nothing to your success?
7. Take the First Step – Ask yourself, what is the most valuable use of my time right now? Share your goals and priorities action plan with your manager, your coach or an accountability buddy. Take the first step and focus single-mindedly on your most important task until it is complete.
Time Management is life management and by getting control of your time you will be on your way to a productive and happy life. Taking control of your life will improve goal achievement, goal achievement leads to improved self-concept which in turn inspires you to contribute more to those around you resulting in a more fulfilling and happy life.
Join us next month as we explore techniques to remove “self-limiting beliefs”. A full 85% of what keeps us from reaching our full potential is inside each of us, is within our control and is the difference between success and average. Learning to overcome these barriers allows us to reach our goals quicker than we ever thought possible.
Let us know how we can help by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by setting up a time to talk at https://calendly.com/gpestinger