In sessions with several of my clients, the topic of time and ‘where does it go?’, continues to come front and center in our coaching sessions. I originally ran this article back in 2013, but thought it would be good to bring it out of the mothballs again, because the topic of personal effectiveness, and the ability to make the most of our time NEVER goes out of fashion. It is a problem that vexes many of us for our entire lives, and it comes and goes in times of stress in waves. Here are some good ideas about how you can get back on top of YOUR game.
I’m amazed that an entire industry has crept up around the notion that somehow you can manage time. Last time I checked, you cannot really manage your time, because once it’s gone, it’s gone; and you “ain’t getting no more” as one of my friends reminded me many years ago. You cannot go down to the local Target and purchase another 4 hours, and you cannot issue an executive order that starting next Monday, each workday shall have an additional four hours, increasing from 24 hours to 28. As Peter Bregman pointed out in his excellent 2011 book, 18 Minutes, you can’t recover lost time, so don’t waste it.
So what can you do, if you cannot really manage time? First, you can sit down for just a few minutes and think about where you’re bound, and whether you are on track to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself. If you’re not on track to the outcomes you’ve been planning on, you can refocus and reorient yourself along a new course. Where I come from, they call that a choice. You can create a daily schedule for yourself that includes you spending the majority of your time on your greatest priorities (you know, the ones that accelerate you toward the goals you want to reach…). You can also proactively leave the minority of your time (the time remaining after the time you scheduled for priorities) for the meetings, emails and phone calls that have been sapping your strength and testing your patience.
Bregman has a novel concept that spurred the title of his great book, and it works like this. Sit down with yourself for five minutes early every day and outline the biggest priorities that should consume your best thinking and greatest creative energies. Put time on your calendar to get those done, today. Work on them first, while your energy and focus are high. Stop every hour throughout the day and ask yourself if you’ve spent the last hour on your most important work, the stuff that will lead to your success. If you’re off course, you can make a correction of your course. Ah, another choice!
If at the end of the day, you have just a bit more gas in the tank, you can spend another five minutes reviewing what you accomplished or didn’t accomplish during the day. If you’re not satisfied with what today yielded, you can make another course correction for how tomorrow will unfurl. Ah, yes, another choice. Five minutes to plan the day in the morning, plus eight minutes to check our course throughout the day, plus five minutes at day’s end to review how we made progress. That’s how you get to 18 Minutes. Choices.
I’m thinking about having some T-Shirts made that say “It’s all about the choices you make today!” Might help to keep us focused on the right approach…
If you struggle with Time Management, read 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman or Getting Things Done, by David Allen and start thinking about making better choices for how you invest the best, most innovative and productive minutes of each workday. Here’s to a massive increase in your productivity! Remember, you’ll get there by making better choices!
Michael is a frequent blogger and public speaker who lives in Minnesota and makes his living working with CEOs, Leadership Teams, and Emerging Leaders in the Technology Sector to develop great cohesive leadership in their businesses. Michael will be leading a half day workshop on Choice Management Best Practices at his office in Prior Lake during the month of January. Space is limited and seats are going fast, so let us know today by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in joining Michael to learn how to make the best use of your time and approach Top Personal Effectiveness! Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, “Delivering Ambitious Results!”