Time Management

Do you plan your day, week, month … set priorities, allocate tasks to the team, and follow-up methodically?
A. We rarely plan, set priorities or allocate tasks.
B. We plan, set priorities, even allocate tasks … but quickly get distracted by interruptions.
C. It’s uneven. Some, yes. Others, no.
D. We plan each day, set priorities, allocate tasks to the team, but inconsistent on follow-up.
E. We plan each day, set priorities, allocate tasks to the team, and follow-up methodically.
[Score: A=0, B=1, C=2, D=3 & E=4]
Why is this question important?

Where do you keep information regarding your time?  On our workshops people tell us they keep it in:

  • diaries
  • PC’s
  • tablets 
  • mobile phones
  • refill pads
  • post it notes of every colour
  • their heads

This issue with many of us is that crucial information concerning our time is scattered and dissipated across a number of areas. 

This has two distinct drawbacks:

  1. we are vulnerable to losing vital pieces of information (Billions of dollars are lost indefinitely each year through mismanagement of basic time details such as following up enquires)
  2. it is difficult to plan strategically when time information is not in the one place.

The solution is to agree on one planning system for committing all time details to.

The past is history.  The future is a mystery.  Today is today.  That’s why it’s called the “present”.

Deepak Chopra

Imagine for a moment that you were given €86,400 today, on condition that you had to spend it all today or else it reverted to StrategyPal.

Would you be able to spend it? I bet you would.  You could probably easily think of any number of things you could spend it on.  It probably wouldn’t even require much thinking or planning.

Now imagine if this was to happen on a more protracted basis – say for a period of a month.  By now you would have spent close to €2,592,000 – you would have satisfied many of your immediate needs.

Would you continue to spend it or would you just let it fritter away?

I’d wager you’d still spend it but now you would have to think and plan more carefully and methodically as to where the money would go and who would help you best spend it.

The exact same obtains with your times. In essence, we are all given an investment of 86,400 seconds every day. Some days, we think and plan carefully and methodically as to how best to invest our time. Other days, we just let it fritter away.

The choice is yours.

A small investment of time on a daily basis can greatly increase the productivity of all the other seconds in the day.

Twelve Time Management Habits to Master in 2013

Forbes Magazine, Pat Brans, Contributor

Nearly three hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin came up with an approach to changing habits that has yet to be surpassed. A young adult seeking to straighten out his act, Franklin developed a list of thirteen virtues, jotting down a brief definition of each. These were character traits he took to be important, but in which he found himself lacking. He knew that nurturing these habits would bring about positive change in his life.

Starting at the top of the list, Franklin spent one week working on each virtue. In the morning he thought about how he would reinforce the new habit throughout the day. During the day he looked at his notes to remind himself of the new habit. At the end of the day, he counted how many times he fell back into the old habit.

While Franklin was surprised at first to see how “faulty” his behaviour was, he was so resolved that he pressed on, working through the entire list in a thirteen-week cycle, and completing four such cycles in a year. As for results, he noted in his autobiography that while perfection was unattainable, he could see big improvements.

Modern psychologists recognize three key elements in Franklin’s three-hundred-year-old procedure for changing habits:

  1. He started out committed to the new behaviour.
  2. He worked on only one habit at a time.
  3. He put in place visual reminders.

Applying Benjamin Franklin’s Method

Here are 12 time management habits for the new year. Tailor these as you like, but whatever you do, work on one each week using Benjamin Franklin’s method:

Habit 1
Strive to be authentic. Be as honest with yourself as you can about what you want and why you do what you do.

Habit 2
Favour trusting relationships. Put your efforts into building relationships with people you can trust and count on, and make sure those same people can trust and count on you.

Habit 3
Maintain a lifestyle that will give you maximum energy. Work your way up to doing aerobic exercise at least three times a week, eating a light lunch, and getting enough sleep.

Habit 4
Listen to your biorhythms and organize your day accordingly. Make it a habit to pay attention to regular fluctuations in your physical and mental energy levels throughout the day; and based on what you learn, make adjustments to how you schedule tasks.

Habit 5
Set very few priorities and stick to them. Select a maximum of two things that are your highest priority, and plan time to work on them.

Habit 6
Turn down things that are inconsistent with your priorities. Get good at saying no to other people, and do so frequently.

Habit 7
Set aside time for focused effort. Schedule time every day to work on just one thing.

Habit 8
Always look for ways of doing things better and faster. Be on the lookout for tasks you do over and over again, and look for ways of improving how you do them.

Habit 9
Build solid processes. Set up processes that last and that run without your attention.

Habit 10
Spot trouble ahead and solve problems immediately. Set aside time to think about what lies ahead, and face all problems as soon as you can.

Habit 11
Break your goals into small units of work, and think only about one unit at a time. Spend most of your time working on the task in front of you, and avoid dreaming too much about the big goal.

Habit 12
Finish what’s important and stop doing what’s no longer worthwhile. Don’t stop doing what you considered worth starting unless there’s a good reason to give it up.