Friday, September 1, 2017

Time Management Fundamentals

Years ago, I had a young guy working on a team of mine who just was not cutting it.  His excuse for all his missed deadlines?  I didn’t have time.  I remember telling him, “Everyone in this world, from the President of the United States to a homeless guy on the street, has the exact same amount of time in the day and decides how to use that time.”  He didn’t get it.  And he didn’t make it on my team.

It’s one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves.  “I didn’t have time.”  If you believe it, you’ve sold yourself a bill of goods.  If you catch yourself saying it, stop immediately!  There is a fundamental problem that has worked its way into our culture and you have the responsibility to keep it from taking hold of you.  The problem.  You feel busier than you ever have while accomplishing less and feeling less satisfied by all you’re doing.  The solution.  That’s what we’ll talk about here.  Here are 3 questions you can answer to help you manage that time well.

1.    When am I most energized?  All hours of the day are not created equal.  Have you noticed that sometimes you get incredible work accomplished and sometimes it’s like you’re pushing against a brick wall?  What’s the difference?  Well, it may have some to do with the type of work you’re doing, but considering you’re doing work you’re suited to, it probably has much more to do with when you’re doing it.  Are you taking advantage of your natural rhythms or fighting against them?  Are you a morning person?  Are you an evening person?  Does the afternoon feel like a burst of energy or a crash?  You should figure these types of questions out for yourself.  If you know you have a time of day that you know is going to be ultra-productive, why not schedule your most important tasks then?  If you have a time that you know is going to be sluggish, why not do the mindless or menial tasks then?  Don’t just plug tasks into any old time of the day.  Know your rhythms and plan accordingly.
2.    What am I doing with my downtime?  First lesson.  You have way more natural downtime than you think.  What do you do during the two hours before work?  Is sleep the answer?  What about the four hours after work?  Is that your “veg-out” time?  That’s great if your goal is to be a vegetable.  But, if your goal is to live out your God-given potential and dreams, you must look at your downtime as opportunity time.  We’re talking about hours each day that you’re just giving up because you’ve told yourself you need all that downtime.  The truth is that you need some, but probably not as much as you’re taking.  Examine your patterns and make some changes.  Plug in productive work into some of that excess downtime.  There are many people who have started profitable businesses in their downtime.  It’s not a myth.  It’s about intentional discipline.
3.    How might I be wasting time every week?  How much television do you watch?  How much time do you spend on social media?  How many YouTube videos do you watch each week?  These questions could go on and on and the answers, for most of us, are embarrassing.  The point is that you are wasting a tremendous amount of time during any given week.  What if you got intentional with 30% of that wasted time?  Identify it and schedule it.  You won’t believe the results.

You manage your money carefully.  Your time is a more valuable commodity.  Why not manage it too?


David Setzer said...

Jason... This is a subject near and dear to me.. I am very interested to see your take and guidance.. In my world time management is the key to the success of my projects.. I have philosophies I try to embed in each individual involved and really have a hard time with some getting them to understand the importance... The number one thing I express to others.. "It is disrespectful to the rest of the team to be late, you can NEVER make up lost time"

Jason Fitch said...

David, you hit the nail on the head. The disrespect is the real problem behind the problem. If I choose to manage my time poorly and it affects you and/or the team negatively, in effect I've said that I'm more important and you're less important. If I said this to you and the team directly and on a regular basis, I would be fired fairly quickly. Yet, in organizational life, we tolerate the behavior for years, never fully facing the problem behind the problem. It's a shame, both for the productivity of the organization and for the growth of the individual who does not realize what he's doing.