Part 1. 8 steps to controlling your most valuable resource, time.
So how do you take control of your time? Last week we discussed the following 8 steps.
1. Accept that there is no such thing as too much or too little time. There is enough time available for you to be successful-others have been successful and they had no more access to time than you do. Take ownership of your situation. Be accountable for your results and responsible for your actions.
2. Decide what you want to accomplish. What do you want to be “successful” at? To some it may mean making a million dollars, to others it may mean being healthier while others may be looking to have better relationships with their family and friends. This is your goal. You must also understand the benefits to you of achieving the goal -how will it make you feel when you achieve it. Both the goal and your “why” must be written down with a timeframe.
3. Once you have decided the goal and your “why”, you must now determine the activities that will be necessary for you to accomplish that goal. What do I have to do? What time commitment will I make? What will I need to adjust/sacrifice/reduce/delegate in order to have the time to do the activities identified? Remember if it was easy everyone, including you would have already done it. What separates the successful users of time from the unsuccessful ones is the discipline and determination to obtain their goals no matter what. Winners never give up and they never quit on themselves.
4. Understand that life and business are about choices. You choose how you will spend your time- on what activities and how much on each. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Being successful in many different areas takes effort and time. Success comes from laser-like focus on one or two goals. Once they are accomplished you move on to the next set of goals and focus on those.
5. Prepare your calendar each week by creating “appointments” to do the activities that you have identified. These are defaulted into your calendar before anything else. Treat these as if the appointment was with your most important customer. Would you easily change your Monday 2-3pm “meeting” just because someone asked for that time slot? No, you would negotiate- “I am booked at that time. I can see you at either 1pm or after 3pm, which would work for you?”
6. Be militant about your schedule. If you don’t care how your time is being spent, why should anyone else? Learn to say “No”. In Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he breaks activities into 4 categories- Not Important/Not Urgent, Urgent/Not Important, Urgent/Important and Not Urgent/Important. The danger for most people is the Urgent/Not Important category. This is when we are responding to other people’s urgent requests. However the activity does not move us toward OUR goal- by definition it is Not Important. Beware of the time and effort devoted to those tasks. Conduct your own time usage study. Every minute that you can divert from not important categories to the important categories will move you closer to your goal.
7. Review your successes/challenges in meeting your schedule each week and adjust where necessary. Be honest with yourself and continually reinforce your “Why” – what are you trying to accomplish and how important is that to you.
8. Find an accountability partner or mentor to help keep you on track. We can all use help every now and then- it is a strength to admit this, not a weakness.
Part 2. Take action. Time management exercise.
The best way to ensure your goals are completed and your ideas become a reality is to have laser-like focus on the end result. Take action and complete the exercise below to help you organize and prioritize your more important tasks. This will help get you to your destination the fastest.
Write down all your tasks on a blank piece of paper that is divided into 4 categories. If you have an organizational chart or job descriptions with these tasks already documented, use these documents to help you recall all of your responsibilities as a business owner.
- Category #1: High Value, High Enjoyment
Examples of these types of tasks for a small business owner might be: Sales, networking, or budgeting
- Category #2: High Value, Low Enjoyment
Examples of these types of tasks for a small business owner might be: Sales, networking, or budgeting. Yes, depending on your personality these task could be the same as the High Value Low Enjoyment.
- Category #3: Low Value, High Enjoyment
Examples of these types of tasks for a small business owner might be: Administrative tasks, the technical part of your job, or making the deposits.
- Category #4: Low Value, Low Enjoyment
Examples of these types of tasks for a small business owner might be: Taking out the garbage, the technical part of your job, or cleaning the office.
Now that you have all your tasks written down on one sheet of paper, you need to delegate the different categories. Starting with category #4: Low Value, Low Enjoyment. This category needs to be the first to go. You need to get this group of tasks off your plate asap. It doesn’t matter if you delegate them to an employee or hire an outside service to get them done for you. Just stop doing these task as soon as possible, they are preventing you from achieving your goals.
After you have eliminated Category #4, then you need to delegate the tasks in Category #3. You need to continue this process until all you have left to do are the tasks that are your MOST valuable and the tasks that you LOVE to do. A word of caution, this process might take longer than you want it to. It may even take several years.
Having the right expectation is the key to your success. Once you understand the value in this process you will realize that performing it at least every 6 months is a good habit. This habit will help you to reevaluate your tasks and help prevent you from getting pulled in to many directions.
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