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Manage Your Scarcest Resource – Time

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How many of you have ever had a “perfect day” when everything goes exactly according to plan? A day when there are no distractions; no interruptions. A day where all of the critical activities on your task list are completed and when you call people to schedule appointments, everyone answers the phone. Imagine that!

I have asked that question to hundreds of people and, without exception, the response is always “NONE, NEVER, ZERO”. Even the concept of a perfect day that goes according to plan is unfathomable to most people. OK! So, a perfect day without interruptions and where everything goes exactly as planned seems a bit unrealistic. But consider this … how would a day where everything goes according to plan make you feel? Do you feel it’s possible to create such a day? Are you willing to try?

It is important to understand that you must first take full responsibility for the outcomes of your day – it’s the difference between allowing yourself to be a “victim” of other people’s misguided or competing agendas or a “victor” where you take control so that your day largely goes according to plan. Research shows that people who exercise such control are happier, have a stronger sense of self-worth, have a higher level of job satisfaction and are a more resonant in leadership roles.

Let’s further explore the concept of a perfect day by asking the simple question … what do people ideally want to accomplish over the course of a single day? My experience suggests that, driven by a need for accomplishment and personal growth, people want to complete one or more important tasks, they want to learn something new, and they want to make a meaning connection with another person – a client, friend, associate, family member – and possibly help that person accomplish a goal. And, increasingly, people want to maintain greater harmony and wellbeing by routinely practicing personal reflection, meditation or prayer and exercise. 

Is it possible to accomplish so many things in a single work-day? Once you’ve decided to take full responsibility for the outcomes of a day, you can start with these simple tips for getting focused, taking control and exercising good practices to keep you on track.

  1. Develop a strong sense of purpose and with a commitment to focus intensely on that purpose. To do so, document, post and communicate your vision and goals. Ask yourself at the end of each day whether your activities were in line with your business focus and what can be done to better align your activities with your goals.
  2. Establish a mindset about the value of your time. You can extrapolate the value of 1 hour of your time by making a simple estimate of the profit that you can generate for your business when focused exclusively on important tasks. Whether it’s $10 per hour or $10,000 per hour, make an estimate and post the number on your office white board.
  3. Maintain a daily task list, ideally one that is mobile that you can gain access to during the course of your day. Utilize advanced task list tools so that you can rank tasks according to categories that represent importance and urgency relative to your business goals. 
  4. Use a fixed calendar that allocates your time in a way that is in line with your goals over the course of a day, week and month. Be sure to set aside adequate time for leadership and renewal, daily.
  5. Learn to say “no” and stop doing things that aren’t directly aligned with your business vision and goals. Say “no” by delegating non-value-added tasks to people (internal and external) that are better suited for non-urgent/unimportant tasks. Maintain a list of things that you aren’t going to do and do everything in your power to avoid them.
  6. Avoid distractions. Turn on your e-mail and cell phone for only 1-2 hours, twice a day. Same for your cell phone. Allocate time on your fixed calendar for email and telephone calls each day.

The benefits working to create a perfect day, every day, using smart and effective management practices are life-changing. Time mastery will help you increase personal productivity, increase job satisfaction, free up more time to work ON the business, and free up more time to enjoy life’s pleasures, which you deserve. To gain even more tips to creating more free time, join me April 24 for my workshop, Manage Your Scarcest Resource – Time

Success is a choice!  Which path do you choose?

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Brian is a business executive turned-entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience across many business functions. He holds a BS Degree in Chemical Engineering from Grove City College and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace College, and certifications from Case Western Reserve University, ActionCOACH, and The DeBono Institute. He is active on non-profit boards, in the Northeast Ohio community, and is a frequent volunteer with various charities and institutes.