Time Management Is a Lie
Do you stay busy from the time you enter the office until leaving? Could you complete one more large task, in the same workday, if asked? If you were given the incentive of an all-expense paid trip to Italy for completing three additional large tasks, in the same work day… could you? What are some regular tasks you perform that would immediately be eliminated from your day with little or no repercussions? So, do we really have a lack of time or a lack of priority and incentive? This post will shed light on the lies that we all tell ourselves about “Time Management” and actions we can take today to start intentionally using the time we have.
Evaluate Your Use Of Time
With the management of multiple tasks and departments of our projects and businesses, we have an intensely limited supply of time correct? Wrong! It can certainly feel this way, but believing this will only prevent us from completing those truly important tasks that move us and our businesses forward. The one resource we all share in equally is time. So why is it that some of us feel trapped in the endless work cycle while others are running large corporations, publishing books, going on vacations and still finding time for that foreign activity “fun”?
President Eisenhower and later Steven Covey presented the below time prioritization method to define your tasks as urgent and/or important (See below short excerpt from inside The Manager’s Journal).
So, this warrants repeat of our previous question: What are some regular tasks you perform that would immediately be eliminated from your day with little or no repercussions? Where are you spending the majority of your time? Without first taking a moment (as painful as it can be) to evaluate where our time is going, it will be impossible to stop the workday insanity.
Learn to Say No & Delegate
Once we have evaluated where our time is currently spent, starts the much harder task of making changes in our routine and, even more difficult, the routines of those around us. Simply put, if you are not making time daily to complete those key tasks that only you can do and those that are most important to moving your business/life forward you are doing a disservice to yourself, your business, your projects and the people depending on you.
First and foremost, we have to learn to say no. The controlling of our time can primarily be boiled down to our own choice on what we say yes or no to during the day. If there is one word that will empower you to leave the urgent for the important, it is saying “no”. This includes turning our email and phone to do not disturb while completing important tasks. You can set up protocol with someone for issues big enough to interrupt you, I know I have to, but overall, we cannot keep jumping to every whim of our suppliers, employees, contractors, subcontractors…. and yes even customers. If we hope to actually get the tasks done that not only keep our doors open but will allow us to thrive, serving all those listed above better, we have to improve at saying NO.
Now that we are saying no to the unimportant, we must begin the critical process of delegating. Define for yourself those urgent tasks that could be completed by others but that you are refusing to let go. Will others probably not complete these jobs to your level of perfection? Yes. But is it really that important that they do not staple the papers just the way you like or write in the color ink you would? Let it go. I promise it will be less painful than putting every little task back on yourself. Take a look at the above quadrant explanations again. Our primary objective is to remove Quadrant I and Quadrant III tasks from our days to allow the majority of our time to be spent in Quadrant II.
Now how do we remove Quadrant I and III tasks? We should first ask ourselves which of these items should be eliminated altogether (Main time offender needing elimination are in Quadrant III). After we have eliminated the unnecessary tasks, we need to automate the remaining with systems. Get them down to as few steps as possible, and if there is a program out there, computer or otherwise, allow it to complete all or some of the work. Now, only after eliminating and automating, delegate the remainder of the job to others to complete. Tim Ferriss summed up the heart of this process when he said the following “Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash."
Incentivize Your Time
The last step worthy of note before closing is on incentivizing our time. Quadrant II is not only a critical area for your professional life. I would encourage everyone to get your personal aspirations in this category as well. Why else are you working so hard? You may have found it thought-provoking to provide a trip to Italy as an incentive for elimination, but it really is a strong trigger for mental clarity on sorting the urgent minutia from the larger important responsibilities. If you have not set goals before I would encourage you to use our free goal setting guide to get these on paper today. One of the most life altering actions you can take immediately is setting goals. Give yourself and your family clarity on what you are working toward. After these goals have been made clear to you, follow the advice of John D. Rockefeller and “Do not be afraid to give up the good for the great.”
Take the below action steps today. The process of working on your business instead of in your business can be painful at first, but will be the most rewarding thing you can do, not only professionally but personally. If you are constantly running from one fire to the next, it is time to stop and figure out who is causing of all of these daily emergencies. The scary part is most of the time it is us. With this realization comes the truth that there really is no such thing as time management. There is only people management. Don’t let the endless work cycle continue to hold onto you. Start the process of getting out today.
- Take the below blank quadrant example and throughout today fill in the tasks you are working-on as well as any time wasters that you or others are causing. At the end of the day evaluate where you are spending the majority of your time.
- Circle the items in your chart that only you can complete (those that could not be delegated). Start taking the steps to eliminate, automate and delegate the uncircled jobs. Finally write down those tasks that you are neglecting that did not make it into your quadrants today. Specifically fill in those that belong in the all-important quadrant II. This is the quadrant, as managers and as fulfilled people, we exist to perform.
- Go to our website today and download your free goal setting guide. Get your cup of coffee and sit down for the one to two hours it will take to fill in the blanks. The clarity it will provide will be one of the greatest returns on your time investments that you can experience.
Many of the principals presented in this article are those set forth inside The Manager’s Journal and an elaboration of those same ideals. If you enjoyed this post please feel free to share with others, like our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and continue on to our website to try out The Manager’s Journal for yourself!
Blessings In Your Endeavors,