“Busy” has become a buzzword thrown around way too much. Whether someone is “good busy” or “busy in a good way”, somewhere along the line we’ve managed to convince ourselves that “busy”, effective, and efficient are the same thing. Efficiency is getting a lot of tasks done, effectiveness is getting the right tasks done.
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 answers online, but rarely talk about on a real level while we prefer to simply say things like, “I’m so busy, but good busy!”.
If its not broken, its probably ok right? Most of us are unaware of the way we truly operate due to blind spots. Its not bad, it is simply a reality, we all have blind spots. If you’re able to relate to any of these common symptoms of poor time management, it may be time to re-evaluate what you’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
Time to adapt and try a different approach when setting your goals and actions.
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.
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 to any other week? Taking a step back at the beginning of each week to review the week ahead is vital.
14 Tips on Time Management
1. Start NOW
Successful men and women have one thing in common — they have a winner’s 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…
2. It is a choice, and it’s yours to make
Change can be uncomfortable, confronting, and it can be daunting at times. However, the alternative is to stay the same. 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!
3. 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, versus having results you can plan for and predict based on reality. No plan and no clarity equals less efficiency, effectiveness, and inconsistency.
4. 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. The average person has over 50,000 self-talks (inner voice) each day and if we are lucky, we might catch 5% of them consciously. Let’s 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 and accept you are not a superhuman. Write things down so you can take the burden off your mind.
5. Use a Planner
The majority of people have their smart phones within arm’s reach for over 90% of each, and every day. They all have calendars, reminders, alarms, to do list generators, and more. If you prefer a notebook and a pen, get one! Choose ONE non-negotiable task to achieve each week, or day if you would prefer. Prioritize the rest and if you are easily distracted, set an hourly alarm to remind you to stay on track. You are fighting an old, comfortable, default way of operating. Get creative if you must, 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. There is no single right solution, only the solution or solutions that work for you. You could categorize and color code to separate work, home, and personal. Budget time for interruptions, distractions, and time for yourself to re-energize too!
6. Track and Measure
How do you know you are winning or accomplishing unless you measure what you are doing? How do you know you were efficient if you did not 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 are good at. It will allow you to increase your effectiveness and likelihood of success.
7. It’s ok to ask for help
Share your goals with people you trust and respect. 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 simpler, reach out! Let go of your ego, your pride, or need to “do it all yourself”. By communicating your goals and plans, you will allow the people around you to contribute. Success breeds success. Surround yourself with those that can help, that will offer both tangible, and intangible support. If you have employees, involve them, delegate, and share your vision.
8. Plan for time to PLAN!
Clarity can’t 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 in 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.
9. Change takes time, give yourself a break
You are transforming the way you operate on a real level. Expect that you will screw up, and its ok! Setting unrealistic expectations will only demotivate your efforts. Avoid cramming things closely together and give yourself some “buffer time” between tasks. It will help you wrap things up, set them aside, not feel rushed or frantic, and allow you to breath and be calculated in your approach. Its important to have structures, it’s equally important to have some flexibility too. Don’t forget to reward yourself even in a small way when you reach milestones or accomplish some goals. Rewards will support motivation and a reason to keep going.
10. Systems are the lock to your freedom, implementation is the key
Even if you work alone, create straightforward, simple systems for every task that is duplicatable. Think McDonalds, they changed the world of business with their systems and automation of everyday tasks that kids can repeat consistently, around the world.
11. If you have a team, coach, or mentor, use them
Communicate regularly and take the actions you commit to. Accountability is critical and they are helping 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 or take away from you. With the right people and attitudes surrounding you, you will accelerate your results.
12. Schedule breaks, you need them
Like anything else in life, too much of something isn’t good for you! Same goes for constant work without a tangible break to re-energize. Decision fatigue, creative thought process dampens, and reduced ability to focus are just some of the consequences of not taking a break. Various organizations and independent researchers have even found that in white collar jobs, productivity declines by up to 25% when workers put in 60 hours or more. Even if you need to schedule some time off in advance, you will thank yourself for it! If it is difficult for you to make this change or schedule some things in, start with a quick 5-minute walk around the block, listen to some music or do some quick exercises.
13. 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 cannot service properly? If you do not 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.
14. 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!
Bonus Tip: 17 Minutes to double your effectiveness
1. Take 5 minutes in the morning as your first activity to plan out your day
2. 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!
3. 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.
There is a difference between knowing something and doing it.
A defining line between just doing it and doing it effectively.
Missed results from doing the wrong thing the right way, and time wasted in doing the right thing the wrong way.
There is leverage in understanding efficiency and effectiveness.
Success patiently waits for you to discover this in your life.
Accept, adapt, action, and achieve.