Let’s be honest – effective time management is a holy grail for all of us.
I also think that it is more of a challenge today than it was even ten years ago. We are constantly bombarded with information – emails, tweets, social media, online forums etc. So time consuming!
All of this is wonderful in it’s own way, but it can cause overwhelm.
So, in the midst of this cauldron of plenty, how can we build effective time management skills?
Before I progress – a word of warning! Forests have been wiped out to provide enough paper for all the books that have been written about effective time management, so in a bizarre way the volume of books about the subject can, in itself, be a cause of the same overwhelm. Weird, isn’t it? But true!
Let me give you the example of client of mine – he is a business owner, is in the service industry and employs 68 people directly, and has contract workers totaling approximately 20.
Business for Mark (not his real name, obviously!) is pretty good but, in his own words, he was “busy, but not effective” and had a real sense of being dragged all over the place with the sheer volume of “stuff” that came his way.
To avoid the level of overwhelm we mentioned earlier we just focused on 4 tips to help Mark develop effective time management skills.
The 4 tips we agreed to implement were:
- Will this move me towards my key goals? Of course, this presupposes that we have identified our key goals! Mark and I worked together to get absolute clarity on his 5 key goals. These are the goals that are on his dashboard on a daily basis. If the item that comes up will not cause Mark to move towards the achievement of any of those 5 goals, then he will either decide to do at a later time, delegate it, or ignore it!
- Does it pass the “worth my time” test? This test I learned from a mentor of my own. The challenge is to ask the following – a) am I the right person? If not, then pass to whoever is!, b) is this the right time? If it is then fine, if not, then when is? c) do I have enough information? If I have not enough information then don’t start it now!
- Work in chunks of 90 minutes, then take a break. Mark took this seriously and used the stopwatch on his phone to adhere to this. I do not believe that we can perform at our maximum effectiveness for hours on end. We are not machines. Just commit to working on items for a concentrated period of time – no more than 90 minutes. Then take a break for 15 or 20 minutes. I don’t mean do emails – I mean do no work. Go for a walk, meditate, stretch or nap, if you can.
- Create your “time in the cave.” I got this phrase from Jim Collins and it is a wonderful concept. This is about creating time every day – it is just your thinking time. If we just run like the hamster in the wheel, where will we end up? Correct – in the same place! We need to create time to think and reflect. Are we doing the right things? Is our strategy correct? How could I serve my customers better? This is a huge challenge to someone who is already saying they are overwhelmed, but Mark committed to doing this – truthfully after a bit of arm bending!
Like any new habit, and building effective time management skills is a habit just like anything else, Mark agreed to religiously adhere to these 4 tips for a period of 30 days.
So, what results did Mark achieve?
Here I will give you his exact feedback which I recorded:
“ Integrating these 4 tips has helped me revolutionize my personal workload. My dashboard concept is brilliant as it really gives me the focus for my daily activity. I love my “ is it worth my time” test as I am now delegating so much more effectively than before. Working in time chunks of 90 minutes, and then taking a break, has really helped my energy levels – I am doing more in less time. Finally, my “time in the cave” has been a revelation – I baulked at this more than anything as I felt I could not find the time, but I stretched myself to do it and it is just such a bonus to have such clarity of thought. Still work in progress to make sure I do it every day, but the benefits are huge.”
Mark has now developed effective time management skills that help to make him a more effective leader and business owner and we continue to focus on these in our sessions together.
I am working with a number of top business people to help them build effective time management skills and would love to be part of your success. So, please contact me here today and I will support you to build those effectiveness muscles.