Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time Management

We're all too busy! We're constantly bombarded by external stimulus and all of it wants to influence our choice of action.  I could say all of it wants our time... but that label and thinking is actually part of the problem.  We have all the time in the world: 24 hours per day and each of us has the full 24.  It's not a question of time-management: it's a question of choice management.

We know what the external stimulus is... what's the internal?  We all have it and, for most people, it has less influence on our choices than the external. Why?  It's easier to respond to the external.  We don't have to think and the clock or other external things tell us what needs to be done next.  The internal... that's different.  It is fueled by independent will, conscience, imagination, self-awareness, thought, etc.  Most of us underutilize these amazing gifts.

Do you know what's important to you?  Can you define it clearly? Do you have a mission, purpose, goals, personal game plan, etc.?  Most don't or have very little.  This is an absolute key to choice management! If you haven't defined important, everything is important and you can't get it all done.

Here are four steps to help you manage choice (and they're useless if you haven't chosen what you define as important).Whenever there is an attempt to influence your choices -- to engage your actions (in other words, whenever you have external stimulus), apply these steps:

1.  Trash it.  Say "NO."  This will become your favorite step.  Stop doing unimportant things. Stop wasting time on poor choices. If it doesn't contribute to your mission, goals, and purpose then don't do it.  If it's for someone else... they better be part of your "important" or they should get a "NO" as well

2. Delegate it.  Now slow down... you shouldn't be to Step 2 unless you are absolutely confident that the action required is "important" as defined by you. The action must also be productive in achieving YOUR desired results.  If not, go back to step one.  If you truly belong here then here's three quick ways to delegate:
  • Give it to its owner.  If it should be done by others, stop enabling their poor performance and return the task to them.  In a politically correct way, go to them and tell them this "puppy" has wandered away from its mamma. You could also give it to a new owner.
  • Give it to someone better than you.  If it would be better, faster, cheaper or easier for someone else to do it.  Give it to them. They may expect you to help them when the reverse is true and it will be a good trade for both of you.
  • Give it to someone who wants it.  Many times there are those around us that will engage in a new activity just because it's interesting or new or both.  You may even influence this and you'll be amazed at the help available. They may also be driven by external stimulus.  Don't abuse them.

 3.  Schedule it. This is very much underutilized and very powerful.  If you pick a task up and put it down, pick it up and put it down, it's inefficient.  You can exhaust many times the amount of energy and time required to complete the task.  Schedule the right amount of time and then commit to keeping your schedule.  A schedule is to efficiency is what a closet, shelves, drawers, hooks and shoeracks are to your wardrobe.  Most would never consider keeping their entire wardrobe on the floor in a pile and yet that is exactly what they do with their daily tasks.  They pile them up and work on whatever one is in their purview.

4.  Do it and more specifically: DO IT NOW!  If you make it to this step, it's the only thing left.  If you get here and you can't do it now, you've failed in a previous step.  You need to start over and step one and see if you can trash it.  If you don't have time to do it now and with excellence, when will you have time to do it over?

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