“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
– John Wooden, Former Head Basketball Coach, UCLA
At Possibilities Unlimited, I work with clients who are constantly challenged to get everything done. I break down time management into four key concepts:
The Radar Screen: Your Radar Screen is the big picture of everything that wants or needs attention in your life – business projects, family, your dentist, books you want to read, even sleep. Everything that wants a piece of you appears on your radar screen. You have to filter all those events into a manageable system. You have to have a calendar, which becomes the scoreboard of your business. You have to have an agenda. You also need reliable data and project management systems where you can place the events on your radar screen so that they get handled.
The Task Collector: You have to have a way to collect the events or activities that you select off the radar screen. You can’t possibly do everything on your radar screen, so you have to select the things you will do. You can use a computer calendar system like Outlook, or you can use your PDA. Some people still resort to the written “to-do” list. And some people use their mind for their task collector. All the appointments and projects and needs stay in the mind. I do not recommend this approach to task collecting, as you will surely drop something out that was vital for you to remember.
Putting Things in Time: Now that you have your task collection mechanism up and running, it’s time to put your selected tasks into time. First you have to estimate how long each task will take. For instance, I estimate that it takes me one hour to write and publish this blog every week. Estimate how long each activity will take. Then you have to schedule those estimates in the calendar. If sales takes five hours and your production run takes six hours, you may not want to schedule both those tasks in one day. You may need to break sales apart into several days. You need to be realistic about estimating time and diligent about scheduling it. Next you have to manage the schedule. You have to do sales when you have it scheduled and write your blog when you have it scheduled. And when emergencies or changes come up, you have to reschedule tasks for another time in the week. Everything has to be put into time.
Determine What Not to Do: People never stop to consider what they are NOT going to do. What you’re not going to do is very powerful. It gives you the liberty to let go of some things that you are probably fooling yourself into thinking will happen. Like the 50 books you plan on reading. Pick five and tell yourself you will never read them. You are never doing that task. Let it go. Pick another five and say you’re not doing them right now. You reschedule them into the future and realize that you are not doing that now. Some things you are never doing, and some things you are not doing. You also need to delegate tasks to others on your team. They may not do them just like you would or as well as you would, but you need to determine what can be done by others to a standard. Finally, you need to schedule periodic “do-nothing” days, where you have nothing on the schedule and the day is yours. That’s right, you need to schedule time to do nothing if you ever really want to have a “do-nothing” day.
Practicing these four concepts will help you build a strong relationship with time and will ease the pressure on you. You can successfully manage your time and win the game of business/life.
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