Goals and time management are two of the most important elements to achieve high business performance. Careful management of both can transform a business from mediocrity to outstanding success. Here in today’s blog I have outlined five of the best time management tips to help you grow in this area.
The Pareto Principal
Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian 19th century engineer and economist who also enjoyed doing research in area of sociology. In 1906 Pareto famously observed that 80% of the wealth in Italy was controlled by 20% of the population. This “80/20 rule”, or what became known as the Pareto Principal, was also found to define many relationships between other activities, including the use of time and productivity. Chiefly, that 80% of productivity is derived from 20% of the activities. Business guru Eric Lofholm recommends that if you have to make a list of the ten most important things to do for the day, focus on the most important two – they are more valuable than all the rest. Work with your priorities in mind and acknowledge that not all activities are equal. Ask the question, “What are my most valuable activities I can do now?”
Planning the day on paper
Thinking on paper is said to be the secret of the wealthy. Think on paper before the day begins by asking yourself critical key questions to get the most out of your day. You can do the same before a week begins as well to increase results. Below are a list of questions I ask myself before each week begins to help direct my thinking and be more productive:
- What are my 20% activities that will derive 80% of my results this week?
- What must I accomplish this week?
- What can I delegate this week?
- What do I need to learn this week?
- Who do I need to talk to this week?
- What long-term goals to I need to work on this week?
- How can I better manage my time this week?
- What would make this week a success?
Below are a list of questions I can ask before my day begins:
- What are the two most important things I need to get done for the day?
- Where am I in my weekly goals at this point?
- What would I love to do today?
Asking questions helps direct thinking, but don’t just ask the questions, write down your answers to come up with a list. Having a list for the day will make you far more productive, and you will feel good as you go through the day crossing items off your list.
Successful time management could also mean applying the idea of working in combinations. Instead of simply accomplishing one item at a time, it may be possible to accomplish multiple items together that are related. This is not the same as multitasking, but rather lumping related activities together. An example would be when I attended a conference for educational purposes I was also able to attract a business partner through the networking opportunities that existed there. Another example of chunking might be simply listening to educational MP3s or CDs that can help you grow your business as you travel. Chunking is simply a way to look at time spend accomplishing an activity and finding ways to lump similar activities to it.
Experts are now starting to agree: multi-tasking is not as effective as once deemed to be. That is because the human brain is designed with what is called a Reticular Activating System, or RAS. Your mind is designed to focus at one thing at a time. The concept of blocked time is simply helping your mind by setting your schedule to do only one activity during a certain hour or set of hours to get the most focus. People who try to do different unrelated activities at once often find that they are less effective than those who can focus on one activity for a sustained period. Try blocked time and see how much more effective you will be.
Focus on your Strengths
Each of us have strengths and weaknesses. A business demands however that many different activities be accomplished proficiently to make the whole enterprise run smoothly. In Tim Ferris’ famous book The Four Hour Work Week, he emphasizes the idea of focusing on your strengths and getting others to do the things you are not adept in. Ferris is a big believer in the idea of outsourcing your weaknesses even if outsourcing means simply hiring someone domestically. Letting others do what they do best, and you do what you do best allows for personal specialization and higher productivity for an organization or company.
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