Don’t Run Out of Time

I have to admit that I have little patience for people who tell me that they “don’t have time.” The fact is no one in the world has more time than they do. We all have exactly the same amount of time, 1440 minutes a day. No more, no less.

 

You will never have more time than you do today. You can’t “make time” and you can’t “save time.” Stop worrying about how much time you don’t have and start using the time you do have more efficiently. 

 

For starters you must understand the difference between being busy and being productive. While “busy” people can get tired they often don’t get done. Productive people always seem to have a plan to follow and a goal to achieve. They get stuff done! 

 

Here’s a simple repeatable process that many of those highly productive people use to stay on track.

 

Determine what to do: Ask yourself, “does this need to be done and if I do it what goal or objective does it get me closer to? If you can’t state with a high degree of specificity why something needs to be done then it may be busywork. Don’t do it!

 

Schedule time to do it: Do you control your calendar or does it control you? Only put things on your calendar that will lead to your goals and objectives being achieved. Once it makes it to your calendar, it must be done. The simple fact is that the most productive people have more discipline in this area than less productive people.

 

Focus: Use time management tools like block time and appointment bracketing to make sure you’re using your time well. Do not allow other people to interrupt you. Do not interrupt yourself with email or social media that can wait. And don’t kid yourself into believing that it can’t wait.

 

Stay hyper aware: Things change! As your priorities shift don’t be afraid to adjust and adapt, be sure to keep your goals and objectives in mind. Because something was vital at some point in the past does not mean that it is still vital today. Reevaluating your priorities from time to time is one of the most productive activities you can do.

 

Always be improving: Constantly be looking for ways to maximize your efficiency; never do anything because it’s always been done that way. Look for a better way. That said, never invest a minute trying to improve something that doesn’t need to be done in the first place. Shaving ten minutes from a thirty minute project that doesn’t need to be done is still wasting twenty minutes and don’t tell yourself otherwise. 

 

Don’t overestimate your capacity: Successful people don’t say they will do more than they know they can do. If you know it will overload you and cause you to lose focus then don’t commit to doing it. It is perfectly acceptable, in fact it is necessary, to say no to things that don’t get you closer to your goals and objectives. 

 

If you find yourself running out of time at the end of a day then something must change. Highly productive people would tell you that nothing can change if you don’t change first. 


So will you?

Money Hours

“Time Management” is a bit of a misnomer since time most certainly cannot be managed. We all have exactly the same amount of time in a day. We get 1440 minutes in a day whether we use them or not. Nobody gets more, nobody gets less. 

Successful people don’t actually manage that time better but they do manage the events that use that time better, often much better. They prioritize the events doing the most important ones first. They set aside time during a day to work uninterrupted on an important event or events to make certain that the event is completed within a given 1440 minute period, what most of us call a day.

It’s important to understand that when I say “event” what I actually mean is all the “stuff” that you do during a normal day. A phone call is an event, making a decision is an event, answering email is an event, lunch is an event, driving to and from work is an event. Whatever activities or tasks you do in a day should be considered an event and prioritized according to what’s actually important to you. 

Most people, and yes that is a generalization but the research is overwhelming, most people do their best work and make their best decisions early in the first half of those 1440 minutes. If an event is important to you or particularly challenging then consider doing it early in the day. Truth be told, many of the hardest things I do and my biggest decisions of the day are completed before most people’s alarm clock goes off.

Without getting real deep into using your time more effectively let me share a concept that I think will help you immensely. It’s the concept I call “money hours.” 

The concept comes from my years as a full-time salesperson when using my time effectively could be the difference between a successful year and a year far less than successful. (By the way, that’s true whether you’re in sales or not.) 

A salesperson’s 1440 minute period is loaded with various tasks that must be completed on a timely basis in order to be successful. The problem is most salespeople like some of those tasks a lot more than others. So they do the things they like more often than they do the things they don’t. I think that’s called “being human.”

The most important thing a salesperson can do is be face-to-face with a customer. There are a limited number of minutes within their 1440 minutes when that’s possible. If your customer is only in their office from 7:00am to 3:00pm then those eight hours are your “money hours.” If you’re doing anything other the being face-to-face with a customer during those hours than you’re not being as productive as you could be. 

I know there are other important things as well, getting those quotes out, responding to phone calls, answering emails, and of course those exciting call reports are all important. The question that successful people are constantly asking themselves however is “what’s most important?” 

Even if you’re not is sales the odds are overwhelming that you have some sort of “money hours” within your own 1440 minute period. You almost certainly have things to do that are more important than others, things that the require the help of other people that can only be done at certain times of the day, those are your money hours. 

If you don’t have any of these limitations then it’s important to know which of those 1440 minutes you are performing at your peak. That portion of your 1440 minutes make up your money hours and it’s in those minutes that you should be making your biggest decisions and undertaking your most challenging tasks. 

While we all get 1440 minutes everyday it’s vital to understand that those 1440 minutes are not equal. Some are far more important than others. When you use your money hours more effectively you’ll see a big difference in your productivity, even if you’re not so effective at using the rest of your day.

First Things First

I teach a Time Management program. I probably shouldn’t since there is actually no such thing as time management. No one has ever managed time. Time does it’s own thing, relentlessly ticking off second after second regardless of what you may need to accomplish.

I hear people saying all the time that they don’t have enough time but the fact is they do. They have all the time in the world. No one who has ever lived has had more time than you have right now. They didn’t have less either.

1440 minutes a day is what each of us gets to accomplish what we will. No one has ever gotten more and barring the coolest tech not yet invented I doubt they ever will.

So time management is a bit of a misnomer, it’s probably better described as event management. The events that make up your day are what chews up your time. The people who seem to have more time are the ones who have mastered the mindset that everything they do during a day is an event. 

They see breakfast as an event, they see their morning stop at the coffee shop as an event. They see every phone call as an event and they know that when they have a day full of events they stop adding more. If they do add more they drop something else off their list of events.

Managing the events that make up your day teaches you a very important life lesson: no one has too little time, what they have is very poor prioritization skills.

People without prioritization skills end up doing less important things at the expense of more important things, often at the expense of the most important thing.

They do the easy thing, they do what they like, they do what they have always done. If any of those things happen to be the most important thing, the most productive thing, then that’s a happy coincidence. But successful people don’t rely on coincidence.

If you’re really going to be a good life event manager then you’re going to need to have a serious conversation with yourself. That conversation should be centered around your life goals, your values and your objectives. Most people who fail in doing the most important thing first do so simply because they don’t know what the most important thing is. 

Set goals, real goals. Goals that align with your values and principles. Write those goals down and make a plan to achieve them. You’ll be amazed at how much time you really have when pretty much everything you do gets you closer to one of those goals. 

Quit trying to manage time and start managing your life, that’s your true path to success.

Don’t Start Until You Stop

Most people are really busy, at least they claim to be. Most people also wish they had more time but the truth is, no one on earth has more time than the people who say they don’t have enough. 

You see, you, and everyone else, have all the time in the world. No one, not one single person has more time than you. You have 1440 minutes a day, the exact same amount as everyone else. That’s why I don’t have much sympathy for people who constantly complain about not having enough. It’s as if they think the stuff they have to do is so important that they should somehow be given more time. 

Hogwash!

They don’t need more time, what they need is a lesson or two in prioritization. They need to look at their goals and values and decide what’s really worth doing and what doesn’t need to be done at all. They need to find a dictionary and look up the definition of busy and then look up the definition of productive. Notice that they aren’t the same.

They need to say no to the things that don’t matter so they can say yes to the things that do.

Despite their apparent shortage of time many of these same “short on time” folks will commit to doing more in 2016. They will commit to working out more, spending more time with family, taking up a new hobby and on and on it will go. 

If you’re one of these “never enough time” types then do yourself a BIG favor and just stop. Stop for a moment and ask yourself how anything “new” is even going to be remotely possible since you’ll have the exactly same amount of time in 2016 as you did in 2015.

Here’s a news flash for you: it’s very likely that your success in 2016 will be impacted at least as much by what you STOP doing as what you start doing. 

So begin 2016 by determining what you did in 2015 that you won’t do in 2016. What activities did you invest your precious resource of time in that gave you little or no return? Then why on earth would you continue to do them in 2015?

Successful people do not mistake busy for productive. They understand that what separates them from less successful people is often as simple as how well they use their time. 

Successful people use their time well but the most successful people are constantly asking themselves “is this the most effective use of my time at this particular moment?” 

If there is something more productive that you could be doing at any particular time then that’s what you should be doing. Now, before you go “all work and no play” on me understand that “productive” is your call. Sometimes spending some time to recharge your batteries WILL be the most productive thing you can be doing. That’s just fine so long as you’re honest with yourself.

So, before you add a single thing, task, or project to your to-do list in 2016 make sure you take something off. It’s the productive, and successful thing to do!

 

The Lost Art of Punctuality

I’m apparently old. I know this because I can remember when being on time mattered. Punctuality was considered proper and showed manners. When you showed up on time it sent a message that you were considerate of other people’s time. It showed a certain level of professionalism and organizational skills that could help differentiate people.

I attended a Catholic Military High School. One of the very first lessons you learned was to be on time. When you weren’t on time bad things happened. Very bad things. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw the same person be late twice in four years. I never saw the same person be late three times. Never!

It makes me think that being on time is still possible if it’s important enough to you. In high school it was important to me because I didn’t like to bleed. There were absolutely no excuses accepted for being late. Punishment was swift and severe. You quickly learned the value of controlling your schedule and always leaving early enough to ensure that no matter what, you would be on time. You might get some place way early but that was very much preferred over being a second late.

You learned the importance of time management and effective planning. You learned just how bad procrastination can affect your chances at success. You learned that it really is possible to always be on time if you really really want to be on time. It’s just a question of priorities.

Today it seems as if punctuality matters less. Heck, if we’re running a little late we can just call from our cell and tell the person we are meeting with that our time is more important than theirs. I know we wouldn’t actually say that but don’t kid yourself, whether you say it of not, they may well be thinking it.

Being “fashionably” late has become socially acceptably and society is worse off for it. Business is worse off for it and you are worse off for it. 

Live for one week as if being on time was of major importance and you’ll be on time. I’m not talking about just work stuff, I’m talking about family and social events too. People who are chronically late are chronically late for everything. 

You can separate yourself from your professional competition by always being on time and you can show respect for family and friends by never making them wait on you.  

If you need to be somewhere in 60 minutes then give yourself 70. Not only will your punctuality improve, your stress levels from “just making it there” will go way down.

Punctuality is a choice, I encourage you to make it your choice today.

Excuse me, Have you got the Time?

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I should likely start with a disclaimer that I don’t really believe in “time management.” I don’t believe in it because it’s really not possible to manage time, we each get 24 hours in a day, 1440 minutes. No more, no less. It’s the same for everyone; no one in the world has more time than you.

I agree that it seems like some people do have more time, their work is done and they even have some time left over for what is known as fun. I just don’t agree that happens because they manage their time better. It happens because they manage the “events” that use up their time more effectively than most people.

Think about this, our day is made up of driving, phone calls, emails, customer calls, sleeping, eating, and lots of other “stuff” we don’t even bother to define. The calls, emails, driving, eating, etc. are all events. The more events, the more time we need to complete them all.

Now while I don’t believe in time management I am a firm believer in event management. We can and must control the events in our lives on a daily basis if we truly want to be successful AND happy. Successfully managing the events of our lives is where balance comes from.

Luckily there are many tools available for us to manage these events. Let’s talk about just a few of them here.

Perhaps the most useful tool is the Daily Prioritized Task List. This is like a to-do list except the tasks are listed in order of importance and we don’t move to the second task until the first task is complete. Here’s a great question to always be asking yourself: Am I in this moment doing the most productive thing possible? The most productive “thing” is whatever is going to get you closer to whatever goal you’re working on at that time. It takes tremendous discipline to use a prioritized task list because the most important things are also often the most challenging. Our instincts are to “skip” ahead to a less challenging task, which will almost always backfire on us. Stick to the most important task, everything is easier once that is complete.

Next up is the tool we call Block Time. Here’s the concept of block time: instead of “planning” to tackle “events” in your free time, or your “extra” time schedule time on your calendar as if it were an appointment to complete that event. It’s like an appointment with yourself. The event can be anything you decide, calling for appointments, prospecting or follow-up. The important thing is to view this time “blocked” on your calendar as you would any other appointment, don’t just ignore it, keep the appointment, it may be your most important appointment of the week.

Another excellent event management tool is the Time Log. The time log helps us pinpoint how we really use our time. Let me say that again. It helps us pinpoint how we really use our time, not how we think we use our time. If you’re honest with how you use it then you’ll learn just what your biggest time wasters are and what time of the day you are most productive. Simply Google “time log” for more information on how to use this valuable tool. This tool also will take great discipline to use but you’re not spending time to use it, you’re investing time in the short term to gain time is the long term.

The real key to effective event management is to be completely honest with ourselves. When we’re not, we can fool ourselves into thinking what we’re doing is indeed productive. We convince ourselves that the 45 minutes we spent talking about the game last night was relationship building because the conversation was with a customer. It’s times like that we need to keep the “is this the most productive thing” question firmly in mind.

Providing ourselves with more time to succeed during the day is a choice, it’s about making consistently great decisions, being fearless when prioritizing events, and having the courage to say no to requests you know you can’t accomplish in the time you have. Above all, never tell yourself there is not enough time in the day, there is exactly enough time when you match your events to the 24 hours you have each and every day.