´When you invest your time, you make a goal and a decision of something that you want to accomplish. Whether it's make good grades in school, be a good athlete, be a good person, go down and do some community service and help somebody who's in need, whatever it is you choose to do, you're investing your time in that.” Nick Saban
Many of my executive coaching clients have shared that effective time management is an issue for them…they have too many meetings, too many interruptions and are always under a demand to get more done more quickly without enough hours in the day. Sound familiar?
We all have the same amount of time each day. That’s it! It’s a false assumption that in order to succeed, you must get more things done more quickly. The correct statement is In order to succeed, you must get more things done more quickly, meaning they need to be done right the first time.
Effective time management is not a priority issue; it’s a goal clarification issue. In order to manage your time, you must manage your life, by clarifying your goals and prioritizing their importance to you. I know. I know. Your eyes are rolling, and you’re thinking I don’t know a damn thing because I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes. Remember, I spent 39 years in progressively larger executive positions before establishing my coaching/consulting practice in 2010. I have walked a mile in your shoes. I know it’s not easy, and I also know that, without a doubt, your Board of Directors, regulators, staff and customers will try to interrupt the best laid plans.
I do not believe that simply by analyzing your attitude and behaviors, you can attain effective time management. Analyzing your attitude and behaviors is only a first step. You may need to change your thinking and create new and more effective habits. Here are two more truths you should accept before we get started:
- There’s no secret to time management.
- Your early conditioning affects your behaviors and attitudes.
Ok, enough theories and examples. Let’s get to it. As CEO’s and potential leaders, we want some terrific takeaways, right? We want it fast and to the point. So…answer these questions:
- What time of day do I have the best mental energy?
- What time of day do I have the most physical energy?
- What time of day am I most creative?
- When am I most tired?
When you answer these questions, a pattern will emerge. It’s vital that you begin working with your body’s own natural clock. Schedule activities when you will get the most accomplished. If you get to the office one hour before anyone else arrives, you may be able to produce results that would take much longer if your normal afternoon visitors and interruptions are factored in.
Interruptions? Yes, they happen...a lot!
Try this: When someone comes into your office unexpectedly, immediately stand up. If you remain standing, it will deter their propensity to sit down. If you feel it is something that can be handled in few minutes, try shaking the visitor’s hand and asking, “What can I do for you”? Remain standing; keep the exchange brief, but cordial.
If appropriate, rearrange your furniture to deter visitors. Eliminate guest chairs or move them away from your desk. Whenever possible, meet in someone else’s office. It’s easier to leave than to get someone else to leave.
Some interruptions, however, merit your time and attention. Most of the time, though, you are better advised to resist them. So, when you don’t want to be interrupted, keep your door closed, if possible. This sends a polite message that you do not want to be disturbed. After all, no one wants to be rude!
No door? Position your desk so that you are not facing the entry. Put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign when you don’t want to be interrupted. Explain that you’d appreciate everyone’s respect and cooperation.
While some people find it easier to plan in the morning, you’re better advised to do it the night before. Allocate 20 minutes every evening before you leave your office to plan for the next day, and you will be more likely to enjoy your evening (or weekend) and your family. You will feel in control and relaxed and ready for the day ahead.
The quantity of time we have doesn’t change. There are always sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour and twenty-four hours in a day. Only your perception of time changes and how you choose to use it to create your reality.
In the final analysis, time management isn’t time management, at all. It’s a goal clarification issue.