Improve Your Time Management

A Failed Juggling Act

Girl Juggling Flames

June 2017 was a great month. I was on fire!

I wrote five new articles, met my target client load and finished a premier speaking event. I was giving myself pats on the back and attaboys.

I was unstoppable!

At least that is what I thought was happening. That same month, three of those articles had my lowest view rate, I almost lost a new client due to dissatisfaction and I was not invited to speak again at that speaking event.

It seemed like everything was wrong. I was not resonating well with my audience. 

I needed feedback from someone. I asked Sue, a long term client, if she felt satisfied with my service. Sue is a nice person. She is the kind of person who would struggle calling Adolf Hitler bad. So her response was an eye opening experience for me. She said, “Well, I just did not feel you were present with me, just a little.”

And with that, I realized that I failed. I tried to be everything to everyone at all once. I needed to get my act together.  

Time Management is Not Calendar Management 

I want to dispel a myth of calendar-based time management. Just because you have a calendar, it does not mean you are using it effectively. The purpose of a calendar is to reserve your time.

However, a calendar cannot ensure that you use your time efficiently. When you are ready to transition to the big leagues, you need to optimize your time. 

Dispelling the Myth of Multitasking

Maximize your effectiveness at work.

To be effective in your work, you need to dedicate uninterrupted time. I am not saying you cannot do simple tasks together.  You can write an email message while walking towards the bathroom. But I doubt you can write the same email message while evaluating staff performance on the work floor.

Either you will miss something you wanted to write in your email message or you miss a key event during the evaluation. 

Lab in the Wild TestHumans cannot multi task complicated tasks well. This is a scientifically proven fact. A Stanford study has shown that multitasking can actually damage the brain. Your ability to remember is limited when you are constantly thrusted with new stimulation. It is best to focus on one serious task at a time.

Do you still think that you are capable of multi-tasking? Try this multitasking test from the Lab in the Wild. Caution: This test requires a laptop or desktop, so please do not try to complete it on a smartphone.

Making the Most from Finite Time 

Understand the Urgent from the Important.

Urgent things may be important and vice versa. But there are times when things are neither important nor urgent. You must learn to discern and priorities items of importance and urgency. I wrote an article specifically designed to help you on this issue. 

Decline work that is neither important nor useful.

Once you have prioritized each task, make a deliberate effort to remove irrelevant and nonessential tasks from your workload. If a task still needs to be done, reassign the work to a junior level employee or a contractor. 

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Eliminate the Unproductive

Keep a Clean Workspace.

This is beyond sanitizing your workspace (although I highly recommend to do it weekly). This also includes periodically cleaning up your computer. Organize your electronic files by moving them into organized folders. Also periodically conduct a backup for your files. 

Group Files by Subject Rather than by Date.

Group subjects by program names or projects. In addition, delete unnecessary electronic files. Do not let your email inbox have more than 100 messages.

Keeping excessive email messages is absurd.

It does not matter if you tell me that you can find it via the search tool box. Think about all the wasted time you spent filtering messages by subject, name or date. 

You are wasting your time on social media if you do not use it to grow your business, learn a new subject, or form a new business connection.

Limit Time on Social Media.

Image of Smartphone

I do not know where you like to spend your time on the web. Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are some of the top hitters.

I personally feel I spend too much time on Quora.

Here is an obvious secret I want to tell you: You are wasting your time on social media if you do not use it to grow your business, learn a new subject, or form a new business connection.

Of course, we need time to connect with loved ones, update friends on important life events or watch a funny cat video. But after you are done with all your tasks, get off the application. If you have to, set a timer or load an application (on all of your devices) that will limit your exposure.

End or Limit Time with Toxic People.

Toxic people are those who feed you negative energy. These negative thoughts may be directed towards you or others. Do not bother trying to analyze their behavior. Leave that task of analyzation to qualified trained professionals. 

Your job is to limit or avoid unproductive and negative conversations. For example, you have a rather testy and negative client named Nancy. While Nancy is a great paying client, she also frequently complains to you about a variety of issues.

Manage your conversations by telling Nancy (or whoever) that you feel uncomfortable about one or more issues. Tell them that it distracts you from providing excellent service. 

Get Help From Others

Navy Crew Working

Delegate Tasks to Others.

Few operations run successfully without the help of others. A captain needs the help of the crew. A squad leader needs a squad to complete a mission. There is no shame in asking others for help.

Get Accountability from Others When Needed.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it is a sign of strength to admit your limitations. When you ask for help, it allows you to grow and improve at a faster rate than working at the same task alone.

You may need the assistance of a business coach to help accelerate the process. 

How do you maximize your time management? I would love to read it! Please write me a note in the comment section below. 

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