Time. It seems like we never have enough in a day. What amazes me is that the average person, the average criminal, and the average millionaire get the same amount of time in a day, and yet, they are all worlds apart. What gives? Is it circumstances? Maybe, but rather than allowing circumstances to dictate how our time is spent, we can spend time in order to transform our circumstances.
Ever seen The Bucket List? It’s a 2007 comedy-drama featuring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two men dying of cancer. In the face of death, they both realize that life is short and decide to compile and complete a list of “things to do before they kick the bucket.”
The basic premise is this: time is precious. Time spent in the office or workplace can make or break a business. How time is spent will dictate future circumstances, there’s no doubt about that. You get out what you put into a situation.
There are two major principles when it comes to time management
Preparing yourself for daily success is crucial. Again and again we see small business owners that lament about not having the time to do what is necessary in the day. Forget about free time! One of my first questions is “What were your goals for the day?” and most replies are something like “to just make it through the day.” Well, there can be more to life than constantly worrying about self-implosion. Like an athlete, preparation is the difference between winning and losing. We’ve all heard the cliché “by failing to prepare, we prepare to fail”…right?
Process brings goals into reach. Like a morning routine, a work routine will give you stability, predictability, and consistency. Better yet, a solid, repeatable process allows for perspective so you’re not just flying blind. If you know, as a salesperson, that making 20 phone calls will result in scheduling an appointment, why wouldn’t you do it?
A little bit of organization in the morning can set you up for a day of success and accomplishment. Making a to-do list might seem like a simple task but it can go a long way if done correctly. I’m a list fanatic. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful for making effective lists.
A List of List Essentials:
1. Make it Regular: Having a routine on a list makes doing things a little easier. Add everyday things like going to meetings, and phone calls to the list. Not only will it keep your day in check, you can have that incredible feeling of satisfaction, like I do, when you cross something off the list. Just make sure your list isn’t full of stuff you already do.
2. Break it down: One of the most efficient ways to use a list is to improve the quality of your work. Make the list more detailed. Turn “work on marketing” into: “Improve xxx product page,” “call John about spam,” and “add contacts to email list.”
3. Specify: If you check emails every day, make one of the to-dos “check and answer 5 emails.” A number gives tangibility to vague jobs.
4. Purge it: Ever notice that there are things on the list that never seem to get done? There are two things that you can do with these: Get rid of it or break it down (see above). It might seem like just taking it off the list isn’t a good idea, but the reason it’s on there is because it’s so difficult that you don’t want to do it, or it’s honestly unnecessary.
5. Celebrate and repeat: Get everything on the list done? Buy yourself a latte and make a list for tomorrow. Repeatable process gets results, but the habit takes time. Commit to creating lists and don’t dwell on failure, because inevitably there will be days when it’s impossible to get it all done.
Functional and effective processes are formed with preparation and dedication over the long term. However, as painstaking as it might seem, putting in the time will reap exponentially more for the work.