It’s About Time

You hear it and probably say it, “I don’t have the time to do that.”  All of us, myself included, sometimes struggle with our ability to manage our time.  As Business Owners and Leaders our time is valuable.  For all of us it is the one thing in common that we sell, provide or have of value for our businesses.

So, what do we do?  We need time to do our work, plan our businesses future and do the things that grow and sustain our businesses.  Everything seems urgent, has to be done now; taking our time, sapping our energy and resulting in frustration.  There has to be a solution.  There is.

There are many processes and techniques you can use.  Techniques like:

  • The Pomodoro Technique
  • 18 Minutes
  • COPE
  • ABC & Pareto Analyses Combo
  • The Priority Matrix

And if you are like me, you read those, squinch up your forehead and say, “Huh?” 

Maybe one day I’ll write more about those.  However, I’m all about keeping things simple, so let us look at a simple process for managing your time more effectively.  Managing it so you have time to take care of business and time for yourself and family.  Five simple things that can make your time management more effective.

Thing 1 – Make and use lists. There is not a single time management discipline or system on earth that doesn’t revolve around making and using lists. We all forget things and this helps us remember:  So make a list of the important things; your schedule, what you need to do, follow-ups and other calls.  Prioritize things in each section by urgent, important and other.

Thing 2 – Set aside time –  Plan all of your time, every day.  Don’t leave blank time that gets used for unnecessary activities like staring at the phone or busy unproductive work.  Fill your day with important appointments, planning time, other work projects, etc.  If you use the phone a lot, plan a phone morning or afternoon, whichever works best.  Mix your day up to avoid going through the motions just to get things done.   Don’t forget the paperwork either, plan for your administrative time.  Then, work your plan.

Thing 3 – Limit Meetings.  I dislike meetings.  They are time wasters more often than not.  If you must have them insist on an agenda and that everyone comes prepared.  That means sharing the agenda in advance.  No meeting of any value ever lasted more than 60 minutes and you can even shorten that with planning.

Thing 4 – Make organized files.  This can be simple, use different colored folders to identify time frames.  Time frames like today or urgent, Next week, next month and so on.  Organize your notes into these folders so that you can ensure that you are doing what needs to be done.  At the end of each day simply review the folder.  Today’s should be empty.  Look at the other folders and move things as needed.  Don’t forget to refill Today so that you can work on it next day.

Thing 5 – Prepare for the unexpected.  Let us be honest, it happens.  It happens more often than we want to admit and it ruins our day.  By planning for the unexpected we ensure we have the time to address it.  Then, in your work plan in Thing 2, you can work on solutions to reduce the unexpected as well as have time to execute those solutions.  Be cautious about time thief too.  That interesting conversation you overhear and have to engage in, playing on Social Media and other things that before you know it, you’ve used up a fair amount of time on something unproductive.

Using your time wisely is the key to success.  A variety of tools can be used to manage your time.  Something simple like a Daily Planner.  I see more and more people using those instead of the wide variety of technology tools that are available.  The simplicity of having everything there and not concerning yourself with an Internet Connection, or whether or not you remembered to refresh your battery on your Smartphone makes your daily planning easier.  The tool doesn’t have to be modern, fancy or sophisticated.  The only requirement it needs is that it must work.

There is an old adage, and I used part of it above, that tells us, “Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.”  Without a plan, your day is unorganized and mismanaged.  Your time is valuable and we all know time is money.  Don’t waste your time, the time of others and money.  Have a plan, a Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly plan.  After all, it’s your business.

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