Want to Be More Productive – Focus on Managing “YOU” and not Time

Every time I say “there is no such thing as time management” I get a mix of different responses ranging from “Huh”, “No way”, “Really?” to “What do you mean?”  I go on to explain that time has a life of its own and you can’t manage or control it! It just keeps moving – you know, “time waits for no one.”

What is critically important is what each of us does with the available time we have. That’s where “you” management comes in; what tools and habits do you use to manage yourself so that you focus on the right things and get them done on a timely basis?

Now, there are several approaches one can take to enhance their “you” management skills. In this wake-up call I’m going to describe one that, when used properly, can deliver significant results.

What’s The Best Use of My Time?

For this approach to work effectively, you need to have clarity on where you are going and specific/measurable goals that when achieved, will get you from Point A (where you are today) to Point B (where you want to be in a specific timeframe).

Prior to the beginning of each week, sit down and review where you are as compared to the goals you want to achieve. Based on the findings, determine what activities you need to initiate – these activities will determine where “you” will use your time. Based on how practical and possible your activities (tasks or to do’s) are, they should fall into several or all of the following four categories:

1. Making Money – client work; aka doing the things that you get paid for. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well you would be surprised to learn that not everyone plans time to make money on a weekly or consistent basis. But if you don’t plan for it, it will never happen. After you get past all of the emotion, going broke is actually pretty simple.

2. Positioning Yourself to Make Money – business development activities; managing a sales funnel; executing lead generation strategies; building a network of referral partners; reaching out to customers for referrals; talking to existing or past customers (only the better ones) about re-orders or additional items available for purchase. All of these activities (and others not listed here) give you the opportunity to take a front-of-mind position in the consciousness of your customer or prospect.

3. Behind The Scenes – admin work; business improvement activities (i.e. website, newsletter content, etc); periodically re-evaluating  marketing and branding message; evaluating new products and services; training employees to deliver on the product/service promise made to customers/clients; developing systems and procedures to improve business functionality.

4. Taking a Time Out – that’s right, taking a break; getting away from it all. Now someone reading this is thinking – “no way, can’t do that, it’s just not possible.” My response — it is doable, if you really want to make it happen. Fact is, when you change the scenery and pursue something non-business related, you actually sharpen your mind to be more effective when you get back to business. Stephen Covey called it “sharpening the saw.” It’s absolutely okay to have fun or zone out. You could spend the time on personal learning or improvement activities, which in turn will have a positive impact on your business leadership skills.

Now, how you allocate your time to each of these four categories will vary from day to day, as well as week to week. There is no standard formula to apply. How you manage yourself is a function of what needs to be done (and that could include a surprise crisis) to keep you moving forward, achieving your goals and realizing your vision.

One last point – if you don’t have anything that resembles a vision, plan or meaningful goals, then forget everything you’ve just read and keep doing what you’re doing until you finally wear yourself down into complete mental and physical exhaustion. Maybe then you’ll get it!