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Time is a Unique Resource
How many times have you thought or said, “Sure, I’d like to (take a course, take a vacation, work on an additional skill or project, etc.) but there just isn’t enough time.” When we say, “There just isn’t enough time,” we shirk responsibility.
Let’s see the weather and you will see what I mean.
Time is a unique resource. It cannot be saved, stopped or replaced. It is interesting, then, that some people seem to “find time” to achieve things that others do not. Some people seem to be able to ‘manage time’ better than others and therefore can ‘make better use of time’.
The fact is, these resourceful people can’t “find time” or “manage time” any more than the rest of us. Time cannot be “managed” or “found”. We all have the same amount of time in a day, a week, a month, and a year.
24 hours in a day
168 hours in a week
8,736 hours in a year
613,200 hours in a lifetime (assuming a useful life of 70 years)
306,600 hours left (assuming you’re now 35)
How many hours do you have left in your life? Take a minute to calculate the time and write your answer in the margin. Compare the achievements you’ve made in the time you’ve already lived with the goals you want to achieve in the time you have left. Are you satisfied with where you are and where you are headed?
Ask yourself how you can use the remaining time to accomplish work, career, and personal goals that are meaningful to you. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing I can do TODAY that – if I did it excellently – would have significant positive results in my department, career or personal life?”
Managing time is not about time at all; it’s about priorities. It’s about achievements that – at the end of the day – are most important to you. It’s about setting achievable goals and using a planned method to reach those goals among the many forces that fight for your time every day.
Align your goals with external forces
Have you ever started a holiday diet? Unless you opted to go on a health boot camp for the holidays, you’ve probably succumbed to the many temptations of tasty and unhealthy foods found during these times. The fact that no one else seemed to be on a diet didn’t help either! In short, your weight loss goal was not aligned with the realities of the season.
The same goes for goals. Goals are easier to achieve if they are aligned with external forces. For example, if your career goal is to get a lateral promotion to another part of the United States and the company’s goal is to reduce all transfers, your goal is not aligned with outside forces and you will have a challenge to meet your goal.
If your goals ARE NOT aligned with the company’s goals, you can be seen as a malcontent, a troublemaker. If your goals ARE aligned with the company’s goals, you are considered to support the company and your team is seen as a major contributing force to the organization.
Ask yourself, “Will achieving my goals help the company achieve its goals?” If your goals do NOT align with the company’s goals, you may want to revise your goal (or consider looking for another company to work for!).
Anchor your goals with inner strength
It’s also important that your goals are anchored to your inner strengths or values. If you do not value the achievement of your goal, or the achievement of your goal goes against your values and principles, your goal will be difficult to achieve.
Ask yourself, “Will achieving this goal strengthen who I am as a team member, leader, or person?” If your goal does NOT reinforce who you are, you might want to revise your goal.
Link your goals to other goals
Finally, achieving a goal is easier if it is tied to another goal you have or another. You may find that several of your goals can link together well; working on one, you can easily work on several. Even more powerful is linking your goal to the goal of another person or department.
Ask yourself, “Who else can benefit from achieving this goal?” Discuss your goal with this person to see if there is a possibility of working on mutually beneficial goals.
By aligning, anchoring and linking our goals, they are easier to achieve.
NOTE: Once you’ve identified your goals, you’ll want to record them somewhere visible, where you can see the goals daily.
Long-term success happens one week at a time
When you diet, are you “good” every day? If you blow your diet by going out one night, are you giving up on your goal? The answer (hopefully) is “no.” Likewise, if your goal is to move up in a year and you haven’t done anything about it today, do you give up on your goal? The answer is “no”. Most people focus too much on the long-term goal OR the day-to-day task. The truth is that you need to look beyond the day-to-day and before the long-term goal to your intermediate goal.
Think about how you walk. Try walking looking down every step you take. You may never stumble, but you’ll certainly lose track of where you’re headed. Now, try walking while looking at your destination (say, a building a mile away); You can reach your goal if you don’t fall down the stairs or get hit by a truck while crossing the street! To walk effectively, you must look ahead, not a mile ahead, but several steps ahead.
To achieve your long-term goals effectively, you must first break them down into intermediate goals—goals that can be reasonably reached within a week (or for long-term goals, within a month).
You’ll want to track these intermediate goals on a monthly calendar. NOTE: You’ll also want to keep track of appointments, meetings, and other business action items on this monthly calendar; this allows you to quickly see what content or free a specific week will have.
Having long-term and intermediate goals are the first two steps to “time management.” The third step is to ACT! As the saying goes, “The longest journey begins with the first step.”
Many people, all with good intentions, ignore the realities of the day when they begin to integrate their intermediate goals into their daily regimen. They forget that they have meetings they’re supposed to attend, work commitments they’re expected to keep, and other things they’ll throw in and out of their available time. As a result, they become frustrated with their lack of progress on their goals and resent the things—work and family obligations—that are taking up all of their time.
Take a few minutes each morning to plan your day:
Step 1: Identify your appointments, meetings, and other business action items.
Your first step in planning your day is to transfer appointments and other business action items from the monthly calendar. These are not discretionary – you have already made commitments to them. Take the time now to transfer appointments and business action items from your monthly calendar to your daily calendar in their appropriate places.
Step 2: Plan your daily tasks.
Your second step is to plan your daily tasks such as phone calls, email, inbox items, etc. They are activities that are less defined than actions but still require a part of the day. By planning these chores, you give them time without letting them drive all day.
Step 3: Make appointments with yourself.
Your third step is to “make appointments with yourself” by identifying the intermediate steps you want to address today. Transfer these discretionary activities (intermediate steps) from your Goal Planning page. This makes discretionary items non-discretionary simply by recording the item in the daily plan. You move the future into the present so you can act on it now!
Here are some tips to help you “manage your time” and achieve long-term success:
o Limit the number of activities you plan for a day. Commit and complete some activities instead of over-committing.
o Get into the habit of planning 15 minutes every day.
o Make your priority first. period Include a quiet moment to achieve yours
o Take a long-term view of your commitments. Does your calendar fill up quickly? Should I? Space out your non-discretionary time carefully from week to week.
o Take a mid-range view when planning time for your intermediate steps. “What’s the one thing that I know that if I did excellently THIS WEEK it would have significant positive results in my department, career, and/or personal life?”
o Use your time management system to maintain important information such as your department, career and personal goals and milestones; your appointments, business action items and other commitments; and your contacts.
Entelechy Time Mastery Council
“What is the one thing I can do TODAY that—if I did it excellently—would have significant positive results in my department, career, or personal life?”
Terence R. Traut is the president of Entelechy, Inc., a company that helps organizations unlock the potential of their people through customized training programs in the areas of sales, management, customer service and training. Terence can be reached at 603-424-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the Entelechy website at http://www.unlockit.com.
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