When you boil it down, time management is all about doing the right things at the right time. Accomplishing this becomes challenging when: distinguishing between the right and wrong things is difficult; you want to achieve and do many things; and everything needs to happen now. To overcome this challenge and be able to consistently do the right things at the right time, requires asking and answering a critical question. “What’s really important?”
Are you spending too much time on things that are urgent but not entirely important?
Of course, many things are important, but when you don’t clearly identify what’s most important, it really stretches you thin. It’s good to have ambitious goals. However, there are only 24 hours in the day. To achieve your goals, you need to realize this, and accept that you can’t do everything at once. You need to understand your vision and what you are trying to achieve in the long run, and then decide which tasks are most important for right now, in relation to this vision. Otherwise, too many tasks become urgent simultaneously and you may end up spending too much time on things that won’t progress you towards your larger goals.
Are you the right person for the job?
Sometimes, you may spend too much of your time on things that are important and urgent for the company, but are not necessarily the best use of your time. In other words, the right thing and the right time, but the wrong person.
For this, let’s assume your company has a long term vision, has defined specific long term and short term goals, and understands what is most important. In order to achieve these goals, many important things need to happen. For example, if your goal is to launch a new product or service, you’ll need to invest time developing this new product/service, maintaining relationships with current clients, and generating new business to fund the new product development.
Considering this, when an urgent “fire drill” presents itself, the question to ask yourself is, “am I the right person for the job?” Who else can or should do this? Whose role and skills best match this job? Where should I be investing my time? You and your company are most effective when the right people, deal with the right things, at the right time!
How much time are you investing in things that are important but not urgent?
When all our time is spent “putting out fires,” we have little time to invest in activities that are not urgent, but still very important. However, this is where you should invest most of your time. You have a vision, you’ve identified the most important goals for the short and long term, and you’ve defined where your focus should be in reference to these goals. You’ve told yourself what is important, now you just need to commit to and hold yourself accountable by investing your time there. If you don’t, these important things that once were not urgent suddenly will become urgent. Or, you’ll keep putting them off until you forget about them all together. That’s not success.
What you can do
Clearly visualize what you want to achieve in your business and life. Define what’s going to progress you towards that vision and set goals in those areas. Identify the goals that are most important to focus on right now. Take a look at these goals, map out all that needs to happen in order to achieve these goals, and then take time to understand and define where you, and your team should be investing your time. Who is responsible for what role? Trust the process. Commit and hold yourself accountable to investing your time in areas that you say are important to you and your business.