Have you ever heard this saying? There’s Not Enough Time For You To Do Everything You Want To Do… But There’s Always Enough Time For You To Do The Most Important Things In Your Life!
What do you think about it? Is it true?
Obviously, there’s not enough time to do everything you want. That’s a given. But what about those important things? Is there really enough time to do all of them?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I know there are a lot of people who will challenge that statement, and say that there’s no way they have enough time to do all the important things they want to do.
I know the statement says “The Most Important Things,” but some people have a lot of “most important” things in their lives. They’re involved with raising their children (definitely a “most important” activity; taking care of parents or other family (another “most important”); their jobs or careers (same thing); their church callings, humanitarian work, or community service; and a host of other, things they may be involved in that could, without doubt qualify for “most important.”
With such a full plate, I’m sure you’d have no trouble getting agreement from a person who’s experiencing even a few of those situations, that they don’t have enough time to give them all justice.
Determine The Priority Of All Your Tasks
So, what’s the key? How do you juggle all the activities you have in your life that you feel are “most important,” so they get accomplished?
Well, the first thing you must do, is come to the realization that there will never be enough time to do all that you want to do, nor will there ever be enough time to do all that you have to do. It’s a simple and basic fact of life.
The second thing is to realize that much of what you spend your time on probably doesn’t qualify to be considered “most important.” In other words, in all likelihood, you probably spend a good amount of your time doing things that, at least on the surface appear to be “most important,” but on closer examination, don’t really qualify.
You’ve seen them — people who are always busy. They never stop. Going from dusk until dawn at breakneck speed. Even when the day is over, they’re still going — never seeming to catch up with all the things they have (or want) to get done.
Sure, they may get a lot done throughout the course of their day, but when the tally is taken at the end of the day, they still have a lot of important things to do. They always seem to run out of time before those things get done.
So, what’s the problem? How and why does this happen? Why can they get so many things accomplished, but are never able to complete those big tasks?
The answer is simple. It lies with their priorities.
Remember, the statement earlier that talked about the “most important” things? Well, that’s the key determining exactly what “most important” means, and then prioritizing those items so the “most important” of the “most important” gets done first.
You see, too many people spend too much of their time (and therefore, their life) working on things they think, or have rationalized to be “most important,” when in actuality, they fall somewhat farther down the scale of what really matters.
Your Most Valuable Asset
As a business owner, manager, or entrepreneur, you’re familiar with the importance of properly managing the assets of your company, and you probably do a pretty good job with those that are under your direct supervision.
You’ve no doubt set up systems or controls to make sure those assets are protected, managed, and handled properly so you get the most benefit and return from their use.
But, if you’re like most others in your position, if you’re not managing the most important of those assets — your time — with as much precision, care, and control as you could be.
You’re no different than any other person in business, or in life, for that matter. You have the same 24 hours; 1,440 minutes; or 86,400 seconds in your day that everyone else has. There’s nothing you can do to get any more time.
You can’t buy any more, you can’t trade anything to get more of it, you can’t borrow it, save it, or change it. In fact, contrary to what most time management “experts” will tell you, you can’t even manage your time.
The only thing you can do with time, is let it run. That’s it. You have no control over it, whatsoever.
What you can do, however, is manage the activities you perform during any given portion of time. In other words, it’s not the management of time that makes the difference, it’s how you manage the activities you perform during the time you have that counts.
So, rather than trying to “save” time, you would be much farther ahead focusing on ways to better do the activities and tasks you need to do that can help move you (in your personal life), and your business closer to your goals.
To put it another way, time management is no more than effective activity management. If you can learn to manage your activities effectively and efficiently, you’ll find that you can accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible. And, as a result, your life and the satisfaction you derive from it will take on a whole new meaning.
Determine The Value Of Your Time
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Time is money.” And, in a world measured by minutes, hours, and days, time truly is money. We complete our work according to a time line. We receive income or paychecks that compensate us according to some measure of time against money.
If I were to mention the word “competition” to you, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Did you think about other businesses who are competing in the same market for your customers and prospects?
Did you thing about another salesperson or business owner who’s prices and/or quality of products and services compete with yours?
Did you think about other businesses or activities that have absolutely nothing to do with, nor do they compete with the actual products or services your prospects and customers buy from you, but they’re competing for the same discretionary dollars your market has to spend?
“We Have Met The Enemy, And He Is Us” — Pogo
What does “competition” mean to you? And who, or what, exactly, is your biggest source of competition?
If you’re still of the mindset that it’s those who compete against you in the marketplace for your prospects’ and customers’ dollars, you really ought to do some rethinking.
The reality is, that even though there are other companies, businesses, organizations, or people trying to get your prospects’ and customers’ business, the real competition you have, is your ability (or inability) to manage your activities effectively and efficiently enough to be able to accomplish the most important things you have to do.
And, in your business, those most important things have to do with marketing and innovation — the two things that produce results, according to Peter Drucker. Remember, that he said everything else was just a cost.
Effectively prioritizing, and then managing your activities within the allotted time you have, can give you a tremendous advantage in business. When you begin spending more and better quality time on the things that matter most the things that produce the greatest results, or ROI (Return on Investment) of your time, effort and money, great things begin to happen.
If your responsibility involves the acquisition of new customers or clients for your business, or if you directly service them, one of the most important things you can do is to create and
cultivate relationships with them of trust, value, and caring.
Consider what could happen if you were to free up some of your time from working on less important tasks and spend more of it on relationship building, prospecting, and selling activities activities that have the potential of creating new, or longterm customers or clients for your business.
How much time are you spending doing these activities right now? An hour or less each day? Two hours? Half a day? If you’re like most other business owners, managers, or entrepreneurs, you’re probably spending less than two hours of every day in these, the most important functions of your business.
Eliminate Competition By Using Your Time More Efficiently
Now think… what would your business look like if you could devote even just a few more hours each week to developing better relationships with your customers or clients, helping them get better use, value, and enjoyment from the purchases they’ve made from you?
Do you think they would be predisposed to do additional business with you? How about continuing to do business with you for a longer period of time? What effect do you think it would have on the number of referrals you get from your customer base? And, how about your competition? Do you think your strengthened relationships with your customers would help insulate them from the competition?
Well, I think you’ll agree that in every one of those instances, the time you invested would have a positive effect. And the net result will show up as profits on the bottom line of your account ledger, and dollars in your bank account.
And that competition I mentioned a second ago? I think you can pretty safely predict that their impact on your customers or clients will be negated, if not totally eliminated.
A few minutes ago, I mentioned the wellknown phrase that we’ve all heard, “Time is money.” It may sound trite, but it’s so true. When you waste time, you’re letting money slip through your fingers.
But, there’s another wellknown phrase that you need to be aware of. And that is…
“Time Is The Stuff Life Is Made Off”
You see, when you run out of time, you run out of life. So, when you get right down to it, your time is actually more valuable than money.
Money comes and goes. You make it, and you spend it. You earn it, and you save it. You run out of it, and you go get more of it. But, that doesn’t – in fact, it can’t happen with your time. When you spend a certain amount of it, it’s gone. And, when you’re out of it altogether, you’re gone.
It’s not necessarily how much time you have that counts (although that does play a big part — especially when you don’t have much left), but it’s how you use the time you have available that makes the most difference.
When you’ve determined which of your activities are the highest priority, and are the ones you should be spending most of your time on, your goals become more clear, you become more focused, your life becomes more meaningful, and your business will reach totally new levels of success and profitability.
Taking charge, that’s what it’s all about. You must determine to be in charge and control of your life, and not let life or the circumstances it presents be in control of you.
The same with your business. You can’t afford to let your business run you. You must step up and take control. And the way you do it is by prioritizing your activities and the tasks you involve yourself in each day.
Now, here are ten questions that can help you determine how effectively you’re using your time right now.
- In the last twelve months, have you kept track of the way you spend your time for at least two weeks?
- Do you prepare a daily todo list, prioritizing the tasks in order of importance, and then allocating the time to complete each task?
- Do you usually finish the six most important tasks or projects on your daily todo list by the end of the day?
- Is your desk, office, or work area, well organized?
- Do you control interruptions and time wasters rather than allowing them to control you and your time?
- Do you meet all deadlines and finish your work at the office instead of taking it home with you every evening or on the weekends?
- Do you start each project on time without putting it off until the last minute?
- Do you let your employees do their work and solve the challenges that they could solve themselves instead of getting involved in them?
- Do you handle every piece of paper only once?
- Do you feel you have enough quality time for yourself and your family?
If you answered “yes” to all ten questions, congratulations! You’re a master at time management.
If you answered “yes” to between seven and nine questions, you’ve been using your time very effectively.
If you answered “yes” to between four and six questions, you’re using your time like most other business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs, and can use some help in getting better control over the activities you engage yourself in.
If you answered “yes” to three or fewer questions, you’re not using your time effectively at all, are definitely in need of help.
One of the best ways to begin uncovering timewasting habits is to use a time log to record how you spend your time each day for at least two weeks.
When I’ve explained this concept to others, I’ve heard comments like, “Come on, you’ve got to be you kidding. If I had the time to keep a time log for two weeks, I wouldn’t need time management.”
If that sounds like you, I understand. Believe me, I do.
But, once you complete a time log, I think you’ll be amazed at just where your time is going and what you need to do to make better use of it.
How To Use A Daily Time Log
Every half hour, record the activity in which you have been involved in the space provided in the log, as well as the amount of time it has taken you to complete that task.
At the end of each day, go back over your time log and evaluate each activity. Rate it according to the priority it holds relative to the accomplishment of the goals you have for your business.
Be ruthless in your evaluation. Remember, the time you spend doing less productive activities that could be more wisely invested in doing activities that move your business closer to your goals, is actually money lost.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to go through this exercise for several days, certain patterns will begin to appear. Now, take a good look.
How did you do? Are there any areas that surprise you? Any areas that need more attention? Areas that could be delegated to staff who may be more qualified to handle them, or with a little effort and training, could be taught to do them?
Have you been making the most effective use of your time?
If so, congratulations. You’re on the right track.
If not, then it’s time to begin doing something about it. It’s time to look for solutions for eliminating time wasters and delegating those less productive tasks to others.
In your evaluation process, look for activities that are in alignment with your goals, and ask yourself these questions…
“Am I spending enough time on them?”
“Are there other, perhaps more important, things I should be doing?”
“How many urgent but unimportant things take up my time?”
“Are there people or situations that continue to waste my time? If so, is it under my control to do something about it?”
Remember to ask yourself that all important question…
“Is This The Best Use Of My Time Right Now?”
If your answer is, “Yes” then do the activity. If not, find a way to offload it to someone else and move on to another activity that makes better use of your time.