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Gaining More Time
Here is what we are covering this month under the topic of Time Management:
1. Developing a Philosophy of Time Management—Establishing your priorities and values. As important as how to manage our time is first and foremost the why, since the why is the force that pulls us toward our dreams and determines the how. First we’ll look at the philosophy of time management and then determine our priorities based on the values we believe in and hold in the highest. We discussed these things in depth three weeks ago.
2. Creating a Proactive Schedule—Allocating time based on your unique priorities and values. Once you know why you are managing your time and the priorities and values you strive for, then it is important to understand where you currently spend your time and how to strategically budget for maximum performance. You see, something will always master and something will always serve. Either you run the day or it runs you. Two weeks ago we took a deeper look into this aspect of time management.
3. Breaking Through Barriers—Eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination. Many folks know what to do, but it is often the things we shouldn’t spend our time on that get us off track. It’s important that we not mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get tricked by being busy, but the key question is: Busy doing what? Last week, we looked at how to overcome procrastination and eliminate time wasters.
4. How to Gain More Time—We’ll talk about time-management pointers and how to reclaim one to two hours a day through delegating, skill improvement, multitasking and improved focus. These are things anyone can do to gain more time in their day. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but we can maximize those hours by working “smarter” rather than longer, and employing other skills along with our time management. We will look at these ideas today.
On the topic of gaining more time, of course we can’t actually “gain” more time. Time is a fixed resource, but what we are talking about is the ability to manage ourselves in such an efficient way that we see our time “open up,” so to speak, so that we have more time to do what we want. We will also find we can accomplish much more in a shorter period of time.
As I said above, because time is a fixed resource, I want to strongly encourage you to embrace this concept of “gaining” time. The more efficiently we can do things, the more time we will be able to give to our families, our hobbies and other important areas of our lives. We will become people of great accomplishment and leave extraordinary legacies for those who follow us.
With that, let’s take a look at how we can “add” more hours into our days.
1. Delegate. As we review our priorities like we did a few weeks ago, we see there are certain things we should spend more time on and certain things we should spend less time on. It is all a matter of managing our priorities, playing to our strengths and acting on our natural giftedness.
Two thoughts: One, you should do the things that will make you successful. In other words, you should hire out or delegate anything that does not fit into the goal of taking your life and work to the next level. For example: If you are a person who makes money as an accountant, you should spend your time doing accounting. For this you might make $75 an hour. You should not spend your time doing filing. Instead, hire someone for $15 an hour to do the filing. Let’s assume there is two hours of filing to be done in an accountant’s office. That means you make $150 but spend $30, which is $120 a day and $600 a week. That is $31,200 a year!
Second, delegating allows you to work in the areas you are strongest. This will help you finish more quickly, with more quality and in a much better mood than if you are spending time working on things you are not good at. Spending time on your weaknesses creates discouragement and causes you to be less efficient. Instead, delegate it! You will find a lot more time for the good things in life when you do.
2. Skill improvement. Every time you improve your skills in an area you save time. If you learn to read faster, you can read that report in less time, and hopefully with better retention. If you learn to type better, the reports are written faster and with fewer mistakes. If you learn to communicate more clearly, your meetings will finish more quickly. You get the point. When you do things better, you also do them faster and that means being able to do more in the same period of time. Either way you come out a winner!
3. Single-tasking and multitasking. Be clear on this. There is a time to single-task and a time to multitask. There are certain tasks that can be done while you do something else and others you should devote your full attention solely to what you are doing.
Good times to multitask: When you can do one thing passively and one thing with focus. For example, many people on the East Coast ride the train to work. During their travel time (passive) they can also work on reports or get their reading done (focus) for the day. In fact, many people do all of their e-mail during their commute to and from work.
Good times to single-task: Anytime you need to focus. There are times you will need to be ruthless about distractions. First of all, you will find you get the work done more quickly, and secondly, you will find the work is done better and with fewer errors. Anything that requires detail is a good time to single-task. And as the old saying goes, “Haste makes waste.” And in our case here, not focusing will end up costing you more time—thus being inefficient—in the long run. So predetermine those tasks that require single focus and then do it!
4. Improved focus. Focus is a matter of discipline. It is the ability and willingness to let everything else fall away while you set your mind solely on the matter at hand. It is an incredible way to gain more time. Many hours are lost in the work world to employees (and owners!) who never force themselves to focus. Instead they come and go from their work, letting their minds wander and allowing themselves to be pulled from one task to another. You know the guy: There he is working at what he needs to accomplish and then he remembers that he hasn’t called his mother lately. So he does. Then he needs a drink of water so he goes to the water cooler. There he sees the sales manager and they shoot the breeze about golf last weekend. Twenty minutes later he goes back in his office and decides that it’s time for an early lunch…. On and on until the end of the day when he says, “I didn’t get a thing done today!” Focus!
Learn how to set aside distractions and put all of your energy, thought and work into accomplishing the goal. That is, focus. Do not let anything take you away from it. As you focus, you will see that you accomplish more in less time and with better results.
5. Working “smarter” rather than longer. You should make it your goal to work fewer hours by working more efficiently. Anyone can establish their schedule and work in such a way that enables them to leave the office at a predetermined time and get home to eat dinner with their family. I do not know a person alive who couldn’t work more efficiently and thus work shorter periods of time if they worked smarter. What constitutes smarter? Here is the short list: Be directed by goals, ruthless against distractions, work from a prioritized task list, be focused and disciplined, delegate, and budget the time you have to get what you need done, done.
6. Applying time-management skills. Think about the hundreds of millions of dollars—maybe even billions of dollars—spent on time-management seminars. Whole companies that generate 50 million dollars a year have been built just on time-management tools, products and seminars. Yet most people are very inefficient with their time. Why is this? Because of one simple problem: They do not apply the truths they learn. The key is application.
There are ways to gain hours in your day. There are ways to become more efficient. You can manage and use your time to become everything you desire to be and have everything you desire to have.
We are drawing to a close now with our month on time management. As I mentioned before, time is our most precious asset. Every day is a new day—yesterday is gone, so do everything within your power to make each day the best it can be so you can live out your values and priorities.
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!
The Top 10 Ways to Gain Two Hours a Day or More!
Take a look at the list below and implement a few—if not all—of them and see how much time you gain this week and how much more you accomplish. When you gain two hours a day, you gain 14 hours a week and a whopping 728 hours a year, or 18.2 workweeks! Note: The estimates of time saved are per day. These are also very conservative estimates.
1. Turn off the TV. We may as well start with the easy one. The average person watches three hours a day. So turn it off for one of those hours. Do something else instead. Read a book. Better yet, start writing your book! Time saved: 1 hour.
2. Group your projects together. Do all your e-mail at once or make all your calls at once. Starting and stopping wastes a lot of time. Time saved: 15 minutes.
3. Don’t answer the phone. Let it go to voice mail. Then, at a set time, listen to the voice mail, delete liberally, and write down the information on a pad to call back when it is best for you. Talk to them only about the issue at hand. Time saved: 30 minutes. Another 30 if you count the telemarketers you avoid.
4. Get up 15 minutes earlier. Go to bed 15 minutes later. If your alarm goes off every day at 6 a.m., make it 5:45. Now we’re not saying to deprive yourself of the necessary and needed sleep your body requires to function properly, but if you can, try the 15 minutes and see what you can accomplish with those extra minutes. Time saved: 30 minutes!
5. Enroll in what Zig Ziglar calls “Automobile University.” We have a friend who always has the best CDs with him. He listens to about 10 hours of great material a week, all while in the car. Time saved: 1 hour.
6. Cut your lunch short. Shave 15 minutes off of it. Side benefit: You’ll lose weight without the dessert! Time saved: 15 minutes.
7. Hire an assistant. Let him or her do the smaller tasks like answering e-mail, copying, screening calls and filing. Time saved: 1 hour.
8. Focus. Different people are distracted by different things. Whatever it is that distracts you, cut it out. Tune it out and lock in like a laser on your work. You will save time and your work will be better! Time saved: 30 minutes.
9. Shift your work hours to include time when others aren’t at the office. Being there alone will help you stay on task, and you will be shocked at how much you get done. Time saved: 15 minutes.
10. Plan. Spend 15 minutes a day planning your day to work on the most important tasks in the most efficient way. You will lose 15 minutes but gain an hour. Time saved: 45 minutes.
Total if you do them all: six hours a day of time saved, improved focus and increased productivity!
If you will just implement a few of these—those that work best for you—you will see a dramatic improvement in your time management and productivity.
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