As technology develops we are constantly promised that it will save us time. It seems however, that the more technology we have, the busier we become. We use the time saved to fit more in, possibly too much. For those of us with young kids, there is no longer as much encouragement to “go out and play”. Everything is organised e.g. play dates, activities, sports & parties. This puts pressure on mothers and children alike. For those of us working the same thing takes place in a work environment; more workshops, seminars, books and conferences about how to save time, but which take up so much of our time !
As a company, we focus on lifestyle financial planning, so we feel it’s important to at least be aware of the fact that this is happening and to try and slow things “a little”, stop and prioritise what is important. We came across this article recently which perhaps extrapolates a simple message, but there might be something in it for each one of us!
I’ll make this article short because I know how precious your time is.
There are fundamental truths for knowing your priorities, placing them on your calendar, and developing the discipline to consistently honor your calendar. The challenge, of course, is in developing the habit to consistently do what you probably already know you should do in order to achieve your goals. The process of time, priority, and calendar management is easier when you have clear goals that you are committed to.
So, what are you committed to? What matters to you so much, personally and professionally, that you need to manage your time very well in order to dramatically increase the probability you will achieve it? By when do you want to be there? What will you be thinking and feeling once you have achieved each of your goals? You want your “why” to be big enough and important enough to pull you to take action on the how.
Keep in mind that you can’t actually “manage time.” All you can do is decide which high pay-off action items you are going to schedule into your time and do those things most of the time. You won’t be perfect. Fortunately, perfection is not required to achieve your goals.
Here are a few tactics that will help you get more done, accomplish your goals, and reduce the feeling of overwhelm, which are compounded during challenging economic times.
Almost 20 years ago Dr. John Lee taught me the simple 4-D formula for time management: Drop. Delay. Delegate. Do.
The easiest way to gain more time is to NOT do something that isn’t especially important any way. How many things do you think you have to do which could actually be dropped without changing your results or your life? Drop them. Get them off your list and get them out of your head. Think of one thing right now that you can drop completely. Doesn’t that feel better? You just got the gift of time.
There are some things that feel more urgent or important than they actually are when you compare them to your goals. What can you delay, perhaps indefinitely, that will free up time now to do more important, results-producing, activities?
There is a rule in economics called “comparative economic advantage.” It simply means that if you generate R100 an hour with your time and you can pay someone else R25 an hour to do some of your lower pay-off activities, thus freeing you to do more R100 / hour activities, this is a good deal. What can you delegate to others? The key, of course, is to actually use the extra time you gained from delegating to do higher pay-off activities. If you hire someone to delegate to and then use that time to read the newspaper you are not getting the value of comparative economic advantage.
And the last of the 4 Ds is do. What are the things that have the most impact on achieving your goals? Your high pay-off activities likely include meeting with clients, asking for referrals. It may also be to be at your girls swimming lesson or to take your wife out on a date.
Use the 4 D formula and realize an immediate boost in your productivity.
Another simple way to improve your results is to “get real” with time. Most of us have more to do than is possible to get done in our weekly ration of 168 hours. Why do some people get so much more done with their 168 hour ration than others? They schedule their important action items on their calendar and honor their calendar. This means that they make appointments with themselves to do what’s most important. Not just meetings with others, but actual appointments on their calendars with themselves to rehearse and prepare for a client meeting, a block of time scheduled to make follow-up phone calls, an hour scheduled to call clients to just check in, an appointment with yourself to go for a run or hit the gym. This is more than an idea in your head that you will do something at 11 o’clock. It’s an actual appointment with yourself, at a specific time, to do a high pay-off activity. This is much more powerful and effective than having a to-do list.
The bottom line is that your time is something you have control over. At a time when there is so much turmoil and uncertainty in areas you can’t control (the market, the economy, and world events) it’s comforting to know that your success is still in your hands because you can choose to fill your calendar with high pay-off, result-producing action items.