Talking About Time

Today I want to talk about a topic that is both an opportunity and a challenge for many of us: time. Everyone has the same amount of time in a day to get things done, sleep, heal, build relationships, have fun, go places and learn. I thought we’d talk about some frequently shared beliefs about time as well as a new perspective on a particular aspect of time that I recently heard that was a bit of a reality check and perspective shift for me.

Unlike some people I don’t subscribe to the whole “get up before everyone” theory completely, I feel that it’s also possible to be as successful or productive if you stay up past everyone else. Over the past few months I’ve alternated between the up early/up late schedule, although for many years I’ve been an ‘up late’ person. I feel like I miss less in the morning than I do if I don’t stay up at night, but sometimes on the days I’m up early I get stuff done and feel like there’s more time left over in the day.

I’m all for speediness but sometimes there’s no replacement for giving things their time. I love lists and writing things down, it helps to keep me on track with what I’m doing but not forget what else I think of. While I don’t think it should be the rule of thumb, recently I was reminded of a productivity technique that says that if it’s going to take less than 5 minutes to do something you should just do it. I don’t think it should be the go-to default because if we keep doing all the “short” activities it can get to be a procrastination issue and we won’t get those activities that take longer done. Which brings us to the idea of scheduling and how beneficial it can be to block out times of your day to do those time-intensive activities as well as a separate set of time to do those quick-and-done things.

Finally the perspective shift. One of the biggest issues with time is that some people pack their lives so full they’re late for things on a regular basis whether doctor’s appointments or scheduled phone calls or picking kids up from school. The way I recently heard it discussed is that not being on time for appointments is indicative of a lack of respect for the individual or group you’re meeting. You’re saying that your time is more valuable than theirs, that they really don’t matter, that they should just rearrange their life to fit yours. If you agreed to a time you should do your absolute best to be on time, even if that means leaving earlier than the GPS tells you that you really need to leave.

We’re one month into the new year, how are you managing your time? Are you further behind than you were this time last year or do you feel as though you’re getting a decent grasp on getting ahead this year?

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Time and Priorities

Today I’m thinking about time.  I know that some of us struggle with prioritizing and fitting in what’s important. Often it feels like we have so many demands on our time that we don’t know how to get it all done in the time we’ve got.  As a business owner you’ve got tons of demands on your time and it may be frustrating or overwhelming for you to try and get everything done in the time given and in the best way possible.  But the worst thing you can do is to give up or de-prioritize things that really should be priorities.

Let’s start by talking about what’s important and should be prioritized.  The most obvious would be things that no one else can do or that need your approval to move forward.  Yes, delegation is great and necessary but there are certain things that just can’t be done without a say-so from you, the boss.  Ignoring it or hoping the assigned individual will take care of it will eventually result in your team letting things slide or things not getting done, no matter how great your team is.

The next step to choosing what to prioritize has to do with whether or not it’s something that affects others. Without people your business can’t be very successful, it’s that simple. So if the needs of the people aren’t being addressed, expect failure, not success.

The third question is how high of a priority the need is.  If it’s a high priority, and especially something no one but you can do, it should be done sooner rather than later. The thing to remember though is that everything needs to be addressed at some point in time, so it’s not a good idea to just do the highest priority items and nothing else because everything becomes highest priority at some point in time, and it’s a lot easier to get things done when they’re not on fire (literally or figuratively).

But to get things done you have to spend time on them.  One of the biggest issues with priorities is response time.  Some companies can manage super quick responses to customer questions and issues, it’s great if you can.  However, not everyone has the resources or availability to provide almost instant responses.  My rule of thumb is that all queries should be addressed within 24 hours.  Even better would be to respond when you get to work and then again when you leave work.  That way you start and end your day with a clean slate.  For the weekends or days you don’t have set hours I would definitely follow the 24 hour rule.

Finally, assign and spend a portion of your day every day handling both highest priority and lower priority items.  Having the time scheduled in will help you feel less stress and get more done, too.

What do you need to prioritize or spend time on in your business?