January Business Tip

In a fast-moving world with short time (and attention) spans, time management is still an issue. If we were to receive an updated version of the Ten Commandments focused on time management,
what might they look like?
In the ancient world, people took longer-time horizons.
It took about 20 years to build a pyramid. Rome wasn’t built in a day. In fact, it’s estimated to have taken 1,000 years to reach its height of glory.
But today we live in a period of compressed time spans.
The average TV commercial is 30 seconds. Typical smartphone users check their phones 150 times a day. In all this immediacy, time management is still an issue.
If we were to receive an updated version of the Ten Commandments focused on Time Management, what might they look like?

1. Thou Shalt Not Multitask

Multitasking is one of the great myths of the twentieth century. You can do a few things well, or a lot of things badly. Do one thing at a time.
  • Action Step: Break tasks into segments. If you start a project, continue until the end of that segment.

2. Thou Shalt Not Confuse Immediate With Important

Ringing telephones and other interruptions stop you from getting work done that really matters. When someone gets you to stop working on your project to address theirs, they are managing your time.
  • Action Step: If you were in flight and unreachable, that immediate issue would actually wait. Work behind closed doors. Let calls go to voicemail.

3. Thou Shalt Not Dive into Office Intrigue

Yes, you need to know what is going on, but reorganizations or rumors occur frequently. Just keep a low profile and wait for the storm to pass. Gossip can be delicious but time consuming – and meanwhile, productivity suffers.
  • Action Step: Lost time is lost forever. Continue working on the projects you are being paid to accomplish. Look good. Out of crisis comes opportunity.

4. Remember the Weekends are For Relaxing

When you own your own business, it’s tempting to throw yourself into work 24/7. But your batteries need to recharge. Plus, the human mind is complex. It often gets its best work ideas when doing something unrelated to work.
  • Action Step: Consciously decide not to work on Sundays except in extraordinary circumstances. As brilliant ideas come, write them down for Monday morning.

5. Honor the Concept of Prioritization

Effective people build an action plan for the next day before they leave the office the previous evening. Often we list more projects than it’s possible to accomplish.
  • Action Step: Prioritize projects. What needs to be done that day? That week As the week progresses, second-tier projects move up as the deadline approaches. Focus on getting all the top priority ones done.

6. Thou Shalt Not Kill the Messenger

You work with others. Some are peers, others specialists or direct reports. Treating them well encourages them to speak frankly and make an extra effort to get the job done.
  • Action Step: Treat subordinates as peers by respecting their opinions and insight. Don’t hold them responsible for events outside their control.

7. Thou Shalt Not Lose Focus

Certain projects are high priorities. Your compensation is based on reaching certain goals, your bonus on exceeding them. These ring the cash register.
  • Action Step: You know how your performance is evaluated. Ask yourself: “Does this upcoming activity ring the cash register or help me get closer to my goals?”

8. Thou Shalt Not Let Time Be Stolen

People don’t arrive for meetings on time. Conference calls get delayed. Often we sit around and wait. Lost time is stolen and cannot be recovered.
  • Action Step: Maintain a list of small projects that only take a few minutes to complete. Tally your expense account. Compose an e-mail and save it in drafts for future review. Knock out some e-mails. Make use of the time that might otherwise get wasted.

9. Thou Shalt Not Get Discouraged

Big goals can seem insurmountable, especially early in the year. To hit a big goal, you need to hit a lot of little goals.
  • Action Step: Where possible, break goals into weekly and daily tasks. Set your own goals for activities leading to completing the sale or finishing the project.

10. Thou Shalt Keep Score

Always know where you stand. It’s tempting to rely on the firm’s reporting, which often records revenue, not the necessary effort to get there. Develop your own tracking.
  • Action Step: In addition to tracking numbers, your daily business journal should include categories like: What good things happened today? What other things happened? How did I drive project A? Project B? Project C? Reviewing this list is also an efficient way to track leads that might fall between the cracks.
There are no new ideas in time management. The occasional refresher helps a lot.
Bryce Sanders,President of Perceptive Business Solutions

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