Effective Time Management

business efficiency focus goals leadership planning strategy success time management Mar 07, 2021
Hour glass measuring time

By Graham Acreman

The most successful people in the world have the same amount of time that you do.  A big part of their success is in how they use it.

Everybody gets 24 hours each day – there are no exceptions.

Earlier in the year I wrote an article, 10 Powerful Business Tips for Owners and Entrepreneurs and “Safeguard Your Time” was #7 on the list. Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper on this item.

When I was a kid I discovered “Dear Abby” in my local newspaper.  Dear Abby was a syndicated advice columnist whose advice showed up daily in over 1,200 newspapers.  She had an estimated readership of 110 million.

 Readers of the column would write in with their problems and ask for advice. I found Abby’s advice to be very thoughtful, insightful, and in line with my own thinking on most occasions.

I recall one letter sent from a 36 year old reader who said he had a good job selling pharmaceutical supplies but who had long dreamed of a practice in medicine.  The reader explained that it would take a great deal of time and effort to do this. He concluded his letter by asking, “If I go back to college and get my degree, then go to medical school, do my internship and finally get into the practice of medicine - it will take me eight years. But in eight years, I will be 44 years old! What do you think?”

Dear Abby insightfully replied, “And how old will you be in eight years if you don't go back to school?”

Boom! Time doesn’t care what you do – it moves along constantly and steadily.

The point is, if you want to do something then do it! Time is the most valuable thing a person can spend.

It comes down to setting goals and then establishing priorities based on your goals. Sure, in hindsight it may have been ideal to start something earlier but the next best time is now!

In business and in life, time is your scarcest resource.

If you want to accomplish goals then you need to take a conscientious and strategic approach to planning your time.  Otherwise, you may find that you’re really busy all the time but feel like you’re not accomplishing anything. This really sucks because though you’re prepared to work hard, you’re not working strategically.

The first step is to establish your priorities.  What is it that you want to accomplish? Maybe it’s to grow your business. Or start a business. Or go to medical school. 

If you’re serious about your goals, then you’ll use them to help set priorities which will help you set a plan. As you move forward, you want to spend more of your time on, ”Priority” items and eliminate time spent on, “Non-priority” items.

As you’re focussed on priority items, you should conscientiously strive to reduce your level of multi-tasking.  Most people are not effective multi-taskers and those that can are generally working on, “Non-priority” items.

As you get more focussed you should consider eliminating distractions.  One of the biggest distractions is, “Notifications” on your phone or computer.  Think about it - is it really important to know that you have 4 messages on Facebook, 6 on Instagram, and 10 on LinkedIn?  I’m not suggesting that these social networks are bad. I am recommending that if you schedule a dedicated time each day to review them in batches. That’s far more efficient and far less distracting.

Email can be a time sucking monster too.  If I wanted to, I could probably spend my entire day writing and responding to emails.  I’d be really, “Busy” but I likely wouldn’t be achieving any of my priority items.  A good way to handle your email is to block out time once or twice a day to deal with it. Email may be a necessary evil but it should be scheduled as a task rather than allowed to over-run your entire day.

In the same way that it’s good to organize your time, it’s also good to organize your space. Eliminating physical clutter helps declutters your mind and makes you more efficient.

Finally, when you’ve taken the time to strategically plan out your time, ensure you safeguard it.

Do you have an employee who pokes his head in your door or pings you online every hour?  Perhaps you could suggest this employee save his items and then see you once a day or at a weekly one-on-one to discuss them.

Consider in advance how you will deal with interruptions. Having a plan for how you deal with interruptions will help you deal effectively with them when they happen.

Safeguarding your time is critical if you want to take control of your day and be able to achieve your goals.

It takes a planned and conscientious approach and if practiced consistently, will help you achieve more than you ever thought possible.


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