(Last Updated On: September 24, 2015)

Women standing on a clock practicing time management

 

 

One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.

 

So declared - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/237027/Johann-Wolfgang-von-Goethe  that German literary figure who lived between 1749 – 1832. His work has been described as classical and his statement on time captures exactly how I feel about this myth called time management.

 

You see, as far as I am concerned, there really is no such thing as “time management”, since time cannot be managed. And if you’re small business owner or an entrepreneur CEO (as in Chief Everything Officer) then you know what I’m talking about.

 

Whatever you do, whatever techniques you use, however you measure it, time flows unaffectedly on, completely oblivious to your efforts to manage it. A day is 24 hours, 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds.  and with the greatest time management techniques in the world, YOU can’t manage that!

 

What you can manage is “your personal productivity” so that you produce as much as you can in the time available to you. This requires you to become a high performer so that you consistent nail your important goals, time after time after time.

 

How do you become a high-performer? Here are five of the strategies which I have used successfully to raise my productivity sky-high.

 

  1. Stop fooling yourself that your activity is the same as your productivity.  

Don’t pretend with me now. You know what I’m talking about. You have a proposal to write and it has a deadline and somehow you’re not “feeling” it. But guilt sets in and you tell yourself that you really must start on this thing.

 

So you tidy your desk, shred lots of paper and place those loose documents in folders and filed them away. Oh! you’ve been so busy, you’ve done so much. Yes, the activity was great but what about the productivity? What have you done about WRITING your proposal? The time goes by...regardless of your time management efforts.

 

Action: Determine some goal you want to reach before you start. In this case it could be to write the outline, research the technical areas, write the first six pages, something. In that way your activity must result in productivity.

 

Picture of a black hole wit "productivity" about to enter it

 

  1. Avoid those productivity black holes

 

We all have them. You are writing a blog post and it’s really flowing and then your phone rings and you notice it’s your friend that you haven’t heard in ages and ages. So you will talk to her for just 5 minutes…and you need the break anyway…

 

The minute you answer the phone, you are sucked into a productivity black hole. You will “catch up” for an hour, kick yourself for half an hour after that and then you will realise you can’t remember the very point you were making when the phone rang. That's how time management works?

 

Action: Design an attention space of at least 90 minutes. Yeah…90 minutes. (You will find that that's the length of time you can remain focused is just a matter of practice.) In this space, concentrate on being productive.

 

I say design because before you enter this space, you would have determine a goal for the space, turned off you phone, refused to  turn on the TV and whatever else it takes to help you to avoid the black holes that can suck in your productivity.

 

  1. Understand and use your circadian rhythms to drive productivity

 

Don’t let the word circadian frighten you. I’m sure you would have heard someone claim “I’m a morning person” and you might have immediately replied “Not me! I’m a nighttime person!” well that’s what circadian rhythms are all about.

 

Knowing those times of day when you are most alert and those times when you’re not should be key to how you schedule your work for maximum productivity.

 

Action: If you don’t already know you circadian rhythms, observe yourself over the course of about a week and note the times in a day when your energy is at a high and when it is at its lowest. For example mine is highest in the morning between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and at night between 6 p.m. and 12 midnight.

 

Schedule difficult tasks, tasks requiring a high degree of concentration or those that you don’t like doing when your energy is likely to be high. Do things that you like to do or physical activities when your energy is likely to be low.

 

Determine completion criteria for those important things you have to do

 

  1. Determine completion criteria for those important things you have to do

 

What I mean by completion criteria is having a standard or indicator that lets you and others around you know when you’re finished doing something.

 

No, I’m not crazy and this approach will increase your productivity more than all the others combined.

 

Check this out. You have to prepare and send a document to a client and when you are finished typing the document you celebrate how productive you are.

 

BUT you’re not necessarily finished. Having completion criteria that was something like “project is  complete only when I hit the send button” would give you a clear indication when your project is complete and you are now free to start something else.

 

Action: Determine completion criteria for any important activity or project you have to engage in during the course of your day and refuse to move to the next activity or the next level until you have satisfied that criteria.

 

For example, you’re not ready to leave home when you still have to put on make-up or tie your tie. Having completion criteria and sticking to it not only increases your productivity but it heighten your sense of satisfaction as well.

 

  1. Time management believers - have a plan for your day 

 

Are you one of those people who begin your day without a plan? How is that working out for you? The reason I’m asking is because this never works for me. And any time management guru would agree with me.

 

When you don’t have a plan for your day, you spend too much time at the very beginning of that day deciding which of the 650 things you have to do, you should begin with. Then, during the day, you continually start something,  leaving it unfinished to start something else….

 

Action: Make a plan for your day that starts the night before. Realistically identify those activities that are important to your business success which must be done in the next 24-hrs. Determine the completion criteria for each activity and write it into your plan. Then wake up in the morning and hit the ground running.

 

These 5 strategies are part of my COPE 4-Step Productivity System. If you want to find out how you can become super productive, just contact me as soon as you can.

 

Now go ahead and add them to whatever else is working for you to keep your productivity high and do share your strategies with me.

 

To your productivity success…

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Time Management? You Simply Cannot Manage Time!

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Lorna Barrow

  Lorna Barrow is a small business owner and entrepreneur who starts businesses between her full time pursuits of reading, hiking and hanging out on the beach. It's the life! Here she's helping you to grow your business, your team and yourself. Make use of the really practical tools, info, etc and remember to SHARE how they are working for you...    

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