Time Strategies

At the end of your business day, are you asking yourself: “Where did the day go?” and “Why didn’t I meet the objectives I set out to accomplish?” 

Goals help us get to where we want to go, and keep us focused on our chosen path. Without goals to follow, we are going through the day to day, mostly in reactive mode. We should not only set goals, we should be encouraged and determined to meet them. We know the world seems to have other plans–new items get dropped on us, and our original goals for the day are left unattained. You feel defeated. 

“There’s just not enough time in the day” is a phrase we can fall back on too quickly. In truth, it’s up to us to decide what we’ll do with the time we have. Our own decisions will determine if we stick unyieldingly to our original list of things to accomplish that day or allow ourselves to get distracted by someone else’s idea of what’s important. 

Set Your Rules For Managing Time

Don’t worry, we all experience that feeling of letting time slip through our fingers. It’s not hopeless; for a start, I’m here to share my favorite 7-time strategy rules. Feel free to use them and add your own.

1) ‘Resolve’ each to-do list item at the end of the day. “Resolve” doesn’t mean you must complete everything in one day. If it’s complete, check it off. If it doesn't get done, decide when you will get it done, and transfer that task to another day within the next 90 days. If it continues to get left undone, re-evaluate. 

Example: “Set up a follow-up appointment with our preferred vendor” was on the list for Monday. You never got around to it, so you bumped it to Thursday. It doesn’t get crossed off Thursday’s list either and needs to be rescheduled again. If you find yourself rescheduling a task 3 or 4 times over the course of a few months, ask yourself why. Was it that important after all? What are you avoiding? 

2) Write each task to be completed as a command, starting with an action verb: Schedule a meeting, make a phone call, pay the invoice, send the packages. 

3) Write one item per line. 

4) Write one line per item. 

5) Create a planned time allotted for meetings and other specific tasks. Don’t forget to account for travel time (as an appointment). A popular term for this strategy is ‘time blocking’. Some folks successfully pre-set certain hours of certain days for specific types of tasks or events. 

Example: they make all their call-backs from their voicemails at the top of the following morning. Some process all their emails before lunch, and once again before heading out for the day. Some set staff meetings weekly on the same day and time. When you plan ahead how you’ll spend your time on a consistent basis, you’re giving that type of activity the importance it deserves, ensuring it gets done. All other items on your list must get scheduled around them. 

6) Separate your MUST DO TODAY from SHOULD DO TODAY.

  • 'MUST DO’ are those items where you have given your word. Someone is counting on you; someone can’t complete their part of the project until you’re done; or an opportunity’s door will close if it’s not done by today. 
  • ‘SHOULD DO’ are all those items that you will strive to tackle today, but if you don’t get to it, they can be moved to another time. 

7) FOLLOW THE RULES. When you don’t follow the rules you’ve set for yourself and don’t spend your time strategically, again check in with yourself and ask why. Were your goals unreasonable? Do you allow others’ priorities to override yours? 

Managing the Two Dimensions of Time 

Time is often viewed only as the passing minutes of a clock, or as the days getting crossed off a calendar. In this view, time seems like a one-dimensional conveyor belt, flowing on without stopping. Luckily there is more to time than just its passing, and by putting plans into action, you unlock the ability to mold your future. 

When you hear people say, “time is a construct” it means that while the passing of time is part of nature, humans standardized it so that we could communicate this measurement with each other and “manage” our time. 

Did you know that time actually has two dimensions?  It helps to think of time as not just hours, but Hours and Energy. By wasting one, we waste the other. Conversely, by preserving one, we preserve the other. 

How many times have you felt you ‘wasted’ time, meaning that you felt you didn’t manage your time well? Good time management requires you to make your time work for you, and it isn’t simply about “getting more done in less time”. It’s about getting the right things done at the right time. It’s not just about efficiency; it’s about effectiveness. Effectiveness requires focus and the discipline to follow your own rules. 

If we perceive the time we are given as a gift, then the energy we put into everything we do will amplify the time we have. What you put in is what you will ultimately get out. Managing our time and our lives well will reap great rewards. Time is not given to us; it is made available to us. We don’t own it; we only have the privilege of using it. 

Our managing the effectiveness of time is an integral part of achieving your long-term growth objectives. I would like the opportunity to help you and your organization with this. Call me at 732.705.5060 or visit staroneprofessional.com