Time IS on Your Side

Well that’s what the Rolling Stones sang, and I tend to agree.  Yet I hear many people asking why do some people achieve lots and others not?  How come some people can work ‘on’ their biz as well as ‘in’ their biz and seem to get everything done? 

I think part of it relates to the quote by Stephen Furtick  “ … we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlights reel”.  He refers to it about insecurity, however I think it’s also relevant to how we use our time.

The term time management is an oxymoron to me because I don’t believe we can manage time.  Time will keep ticking on, every day of every week of every month of every year and is completely inflexible.  And because time is consistent and can’t be changed, then how can we manage it?  It is certainly not going to negotiate with us and say, “oh – sorry Barbara, you need a bit more time for that task, I’ll stop for a few minutes so you can catch up!”  (Although I do wish that it would sometimes!)  One differential that sorts out the achievers from the non-achievers, is simply ourselves, us, you and me.  So when we talk about time management we’re referring to self-management.   

So how do you manage you?  We all have the same number of hours available to us: 24 per day, 168 per week and 8,760 hours per year.  How do you use yours?  How you manage yourself is the key determinant of whether you’re getting sufficient sleep, quality personal and family time, business time and rejuvenation time.  And, because we all have different priorities we manage ourselves differently, and therefore achieve different outcomes.  That’s how we get different results. 

To successfully self-manage you need to know what you want.  What is the BIG picture for you?  What is the big picture for your business?  For the self-employed, that’s your vision and mission.  For non-self-employed, let’s call it your purpose.  Once you’re aware of your big picture or purpose, you can start thinking about how you might achieve it.  I like to think of it is once you know your ‘what’ you can start to figure out the ‘how’.   It’s like breaking down your big picture into smaller pieces.  Big picture overview à smaller chunks à baby steps. 

I hear you saying ‘that’s not realistic’ or ‘I don’t work that way’.  However I bet you do.  When you go to make a recipe or your favourite dish do you just start or do you plan?  There’s nothing worse than starting to make your favourite cake, getting the ingredients creamed and then realising you have no flour.  We generally think about what we want to achieve and then how we’ll achieve it when preparing food.  And, this happens with most things we do.  Think about mowing the lawn or working in the garden.  We’ll see our end result (a weeded garden or a nicely mown lawn), or our big picture and then proceed to take the steps to achieve it.  Get the mower out, gas it up, check it and start on one part of the lawn (smaller chunks).  Most times we have a plan, or process of how we’ll do that task.  We all do it, and the most exciting thing is that we’re all capable of doing it.  So how can we translate that into business or the things that are most important to us?    

Often I hear people talking about how having a plan can tie you up, creating inflexibility - I disagree.  A big picture, a purpose or a plan simply helps you to prioritise, a bit like a road map.  You know what you want to achieve (or in the case of a map, where you want to go), and you can be flexible about the result, like taking an opportunity (or a detour or sightseeing) along the way.  You can always say ‘yes’ to something that doesn’t fit with the plan and then get back on track once that activity is completed.  Or you can change your plan and head off in a different direction should you choose.  A plan is not set in stone – it is simply a map to guide the way to your outcome.  Therefore, when you know what you want you can prioritise tasks, activities and opportunities that will support you to achieve it.  The huge advantage of having a plan is that it supports your decision-making, and help you to say ‘no’ when you need to.

Once you know what you want to create and you have some ‘chunks’ or ‘areas’ broken down, you can start looking at the smaller steps and scheduling them into your diary/planner/outlook.   Here are a few tips and techniques that could help:

·     Schedule in family, relaxation and holiday time first and work your schedule around it.

·     Timetable in smaller tasks that are manageable and complete each task in the time allocated.

·     Review and preview.  Preview your daily tasks at the beginning of each day.  At the end of each day, review your achievements, preview the coming day and think about what you’ll need ahead of time.  At the beginning or the end of each week, do a review/preview and adjust your tasks to suit your commitments.  If     you do have to reschedule or shift a task, ensure you re-book it in at the time, so that it remains on your schedule.

·     Book buffer space in between your appointments to allow for the unexpected as well as breathing time for yourself.

·     Schedule in preparation time and debrief or ‘downloading’ time if needed.

·     Utilise technology where you can.  Use your reminders, calendars, on-line planners, short-cuts, editing tools or whatever you need to help you stay on task. 

·     Use a timer – especially for important tasks (and for balancing your mental/physical energy).  Mobile phones have a timer function.  If you don’t have one on your phone, use an egg timer, alarm clock or the timer on your oven.  This can help you break up larger tasks so that you are moving during your work, and, setting a timer prior to a meeting will help you keep to time.

·     Tidy up, file, and put things away as you go.

·     Set times in your day for email and social media clearing.  

·     Think about how you can group tasks together to save time, eg: if I have an appointment in town, what other tasks can I fit in around that. 

We are all given the same amount of time.  What’s differentiates us how we prioritise that time to achieve our goals, and this is what determines our success.  When we know our goals or outcomes, we can allocate the time we have to help us achieve what we want.  Time is on your side and it’s all about how you manage yourself. 

References:  

Robyn Pearce http://www.gettingagrip.com

by Barbara Jaques 

27 June 2016