The first step in managing time is to get organized.
The three major resources that are essential to a successful business are time, money and people.
If you lose money, you can always earn or borrow more. If you lose people, you can re-hire. But if you lose time, you can never regain it – either by working or by borrowing. It is lost forever. And the sad part is, there is not an inexhaustible supply. You can dip into the time bank only so many times – then, when it’s all gone, you’re gone.
It stands to reason that since time is in great demand and is in such a limited supply, that it is the most valuable resource. Therefore, if you want to be successful in business, you must learn to manage the time at your disposal.
Unfortunately, some people can’t even manage their money, let alone their time. And even those who do manage their money well do a relatively poor job of managing their time. The expression “look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves” is equally true for this precious commodity called time. We cannot afford to be spendthrifts when it comes to time. Spending time on impulse items such as reading your spam email, scrolling through Facebook postings, surfing the Internet with no purpose in mind or fidgeting with the latest needless digital gadget when there are meaningful tasks to be performed are only some of the ways we squander valuable minutes, which soon amount to hours.
We also waste time by constantly shuffling papers, searching for misplaced items, interrupting ourselves and others needlessly, procrastinating on jobs that must be done eventually, worrying about things we can’t control, and saying “yes” to time-consuming activities that do not relate to our goals.
Add to this perfectionism, idle time, and a myriad of bad habits, and we have the potential to waste hours each day. Hours that could be spent on profit-generating activities, family time, or self-renewal.
The first step in gaining control of your time is to get organized. Organize your office, your files and your procedures to eliminate those wasted minutes searching for things, shuffling papers and interrupting others. Then look for shortcuts when performing those necessary but routine activities such as corresponding, conducting meetings, and fielding phone calls. The resulting time savings can then be invested in those profit-generating activities and personal priorities that you just never seem to get around to.
Time management is not a one-time thing. It is a continuous process of changing time-wasting habits, streamlining the necessary activities, and always focusing on those key activities that generate the greatest return.
Time management has been described as “common sense put into practice” or “self-management” Or “making wise choices.” It seems easy. But it isn’t easy for one reason; we are forced to change our way, leave our comfort zone, and abandon those habits that we have developed over the years. Change does not come easily. It takes motivation, determination, and perseverance, which are brain-based skills that must be strengthened through continued use. But the rewards – a more productive and satisfying life – are worth the effort.
A word of caution: don’t try to change too many things at once. Remember, time management is a life-long process. Make changes gradually. Become comfortable with making notes during phone calls, for example, before revamping the way you conduct your meetings, and so on.
And don’t be afraid of reverting to paper if it makes the job easier. Technology is meant as a better means to an end, not as an end in itself. For example, after years of losing track of things to be done that became hidden in a plethora of emails, I revised my old Telephone Log to include email actions, and finally feel secure. (A description is available in the product section of our taylorintime.com website.)
Where do you get your ideas for better ways of doing things? There are over 1000 books on the topic of time management. Articles appear almost every month in one of the thousands of magazines being published. Seminars are in plentiful supply. There is even this blog and hundreds of others. There is no shortage of ideas on saving time.
But what you must do is select those ideas you feel will work for you. Adapt them, if necessary, to suit your particular job or situation, and then put them into practice.
You have probably heard the expression that an organized mind is more important than an organized desk. But let me assure you, that working at an organized desk actually helps you to develop an organized mind.