“Busy” has become a buzzword thrown around way too much. Whether someone tries to convince themselves and others that they are “good busy” or “busy in a good way”, somewhere along the line we’ve managed to convince ourselves that “busy” is cool! We’ve convinced ourselves that effective, and efficient are the same thing but they are not.
Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things, and “busy-ness as usual” is not cool!
A McKinsey report surveyed over 1,500 executives around the world, asking them how they spent their time at work. Only 9% of respondents said they were “very satisfied with their current time allocations.
Another survey by Proudfoot Consulting, spanning over 4 years with 2,500 businesses in 39 countries, discovered how expensive poor time management can be. In the UK alone, poor time management cost businesses almost £80bn per year.
A quick google search on “time management skills” brings up over 1.2 billion results. Undeniably a popular topic to search for, but rarely talked about on a real level. Most people simply prefer to stay in the comfort of oh how things are. If it’s not broken, it’s probably ok right?
Well, most of us are unaware of the real impacts, we all deal with them. So, if you’re able to relate to any of these common symptoms of poor time management, it may be time to re-evaluate what we’re doing.
- Missing deadlines
- Late to (or) missing appointments
- Strained relationships
- Feeling overwhelmed (or) overly stressed
- Procrastination / easily distracted
- Feel like you never have free time
- Always rushing
- Indecisiveness / perfectionism
- Saying yes to everything
- Doing everything yourself
Dovico, a timesheet company published a time management facts and figures report. Two interesting facts in the report were that 75% of American workers complain about being tired and, ONE hour of planning will save you TEN hours of doing. It is time to reflect and be honest about where the time really goes.
Put yourself at the end of the week, having accomplished what you really wanted to achieve. When you look back, what changed in that week; what changed in you; what changed in how you approached the week that really made the difference?
The skill of taking a step back to review, reflect, respond, then take effective and efficient actions are vital. Or, be prepared for what currently is, to always be.
If you choose to move forward to the next pages, do so with the intent to take action, and with these two points in mind.
- Concept VS reality. The approach should not be whether you know it or not. It needs to be whether you action it or not. Knowledge is not power. Until there is action, knowledge is just potential.
- Results don’t care how you feel. You can have your reasons, or you can have your results but you can’t have both.
- Start NOW
Successful men and women have one thing in common — they have a winners mindset. We all battle that inner voice saying, “just five more minutes to snooze.”. There is a sense of control and accomplishment when you beat that voice. Whether it tells you it’s ok to eat that Big Mac, stay up to watch another episode, or leave that important task till tomorrow… BEAT that inner voice starting right now. Change can begin right now for you or of course, you can put it off till tomorrow, again…
- It’s all a choice, and yours to make
Change is usually uncomfortable, confronting, and it can even be daunting at times. However, the alternative is to stay the same. There is nothing wrong with that either, if that’s what you choose. But for most people, it usually doesn’t occur like a choice. Like the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The choice to transform your circumstances is entirely yours to make, and if you struggle with implementation, reach out to your coach, a mentor, or at the very least, start investing in yourself to learn new skills. Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like some recommendations on some books and resources but one things for certain, it all begins with a decision, your choice to take action.
- Begin with the end in mind
If you aim for nothing, you’ll always hit it. Sharpen the axe three times, cut once. The saying are endless. Create a game plan and start with the end in mind. What is it that you will accomplish this year? What does that mean you have to achieve each quarter? What actions will you need to take each month, each week, and each day in order to achieve it? Having a clear strategy, clear structure to achieve it, and clear actions to take, will change your approach from trying and wishing to achieve a result, to having results you can plan for and predict based on reality. No plan and no clarity equals less efficiency, effectiveness, and inconsistency. This applies in life as it does in business. Begin each year, quarter, month, and day, with the end in mind.
- WRITE IT DOWN!
Time and time again, experts around the world communicate the power of writing your goals down. Yet still, many choose not to. That is exactly why the minority continue to produce the results. It is said that the average person has over 50,000 self-talks (inner voice) each day and if we’re lucky, we might catch 5% of them consciously. Lets deal with reality right now and admit that it is impossible for you to retain and remember everything in your head! Stop punishing yourself for forgetting things, accept we are not superhuman, and write things down!
- Use a Planner
The majority of people have their smart phones within arms reach for well over 90% of each and every day. Every smart phone has calendars, reminders, alarms, to do list generators, apps, notepads and more. If you prefer a notebook and a pen, get one! Choose ONE non-negotiable task to achieve each week to begin, one aligned with your big picture goals. Choose one per day if you feel you are able to make that commitment. Prioritize the rest of your activities and if you’re easily distracted, set an hourly alarm to remind you to stay on track. Consider whether you are fighting a comfortable, default way of operating that needs to change.
Get creative to implement new ways to defeat your old way of operating. Some people use 3 planners and multiple alarms, others simply decide to change and do so. There is no single right solution, only solution(s) that work. Budget time for interruptions, distractions, and time for yourself to re-energize too! Don’t be fooled by your feelings! What you are doing either works, or it doesn’t, and the proof is in your results!
- Track and Measure
How do you know you’re winning or accomplishing unless you measure what you are doing? How do you know you were efficient if you didn’t have a timeline to accomplish by? Create measurable objectives, milestones to check in on progress, and deadlines to aim for. Consider your talents and strengths to leverage what you’re good at. It will allow you to increase your effectiveness and likelihood of success.
- It is OK to ask for help
Share your goals with people you trust and respect but more importantly, those that are capable of comprehending what you share. If you have a colleague, friend, or family member that is more effective at doing something, or can offer support to make achieving your goal much more simple, reach out! Let go of your ego, your pride, or your need to “do it all yourself”. By communicating your goals and plans, you will allow people around you to contribute. Success breeds success. Surround yourself with those that can help, that will offer both tangible, and intangible support. Delegate, share your vision, make it happen together.
- Plan the time to PLAN!
Resistance and doubt is predictably the result of lacking clarity. Clarity cannot be underestimated! Having a clear plan will allow you to do many things differently from right now. The clearer and more specific your plans are, the clearer your strategies can be in achieving them. For example, knowing the many different tasks you have can allow you to batch similar tasks together to create more efficiency throughout your day. Categorize your work into core groups like writing (articles, emails, FB posts, blogs etc), calls (follow ups, cold, client calls, setting meetings), administrative work, business development etc. Plan your day and work your plan!
- Change takes time, give yourself a break
You are transforming the way you operate on a real level. Accept that it is likely you will screw up, and that is perfectly ok! Setting unrealistic expectations will only demotivate your efforts. Avoid cramming things closely together and give yourself some “buffer time” between meetings and tasks. It will help you wrap things up, set them aside, not feel rushed or frantic, and will allow you to breath and be calculated in your daily approach. It is important to have structure and it is equally important to have some flexibility too. Don not forget to reward yourself in a small way when you reach milestones and accomplish goals. Rewards will support your success mindset, motivation, and provide reasons to keep you going.
- Systems are the locks to your freedom, implementation is the key
Even if you work alone, create straightforward, simple systems on every task and duty that is duplicatable. There is a reason why McDonalds changed the world of business in their systems and automation of every day tasks that kids are able to repeat consistently, around the world.
- If you have a team, coach, or mentor, use them
Communicate regularly and take the actions you commit to. Accountability is critical. A coach or mentor help you to stay on track, overcome challenges, and keep moving forward. Just as these types of people are in your life to support you, protect yourself from people or things that distract and take away from you. With the right people and attitudes surrounding you, you will accelerate your results. An effective team can work in the same manner.
- Schedule breaks, you need them
Like anything else in life, too much of something is not good for you! Same goes for constant work without a tangible break to re-energize. Decision fatigue occurs, creative thought process dampens, and reduced ability to focus are just some of the consequences if you do not take a break. Various organizations and independent researchers for example, have found that in white collar jobs, productivity declines by up to 25% when workers put in 60 hours or more. When you are overwhelmed or have too much to do, which most can relate with… You are pulled from one thing to another often. A University in California, Irvine, found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get yourself back on track after being interrupted. Just a few distractions or interruptions a day means you lose an hour of effective work! Schedule some time off in advance, your future self will thank you for it! If it is difficult for you to make this change or schedule some breaks in, start with a quick 5 minute walk around the block, listen to some music or do some quick exercises. The key is to do something and give yourself a small break to increase your effectiveness.
- Learn to say no
If you are overloaded, overwhelmed, or close to burning out, what use is another opportunity that you will only struggle to take care of and more than likely can’t service properly? If you don’t know how to say no, it’s time to learn. Consider this… when you say yes to something, what are you saying no to? This may be hard to accept, but when you learn to say no more, you gain the ability to say yes to new opportunities at the right time.
- The bottom line
The thought of change itself can be overwhelming… To transform your current reality, it will require a commitment to new daily practices. Rather than trying to change everything at once. Pick one area of your personal or professional life to transform. Use some, or all of these practical tips on time management to make one small change in your life starting now. Accomplish something small, take more small actions then when you’re ready, challenge yourself to play a bigger game
- 17 Minutes to increase your effectiveness
- Take 5 minutes in the morning as your first activity to plan out your day
- Set an alarm on the hour for the next 7 hours. Ask yourself, is what I am doing right now aligned with completing my daily tasks. If No, get back on track, if yes, keep going!
- Take 5 minutes at the end of the day to RRR, that’s review, reflect, and respond. Check in with what you accomplished, any challenges you ran into, and create a plan for the next day to keep pushing forward.