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The keys to successful time management: Doing the right things at the right times

Time Management

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.

2 habits that can help you become a better leader

Willpower

Leadership is about getting results. The one thing all good leaders have in common is that they deliver positive, sustainable results. Your attitudes, habits and behaviors are what drive results. Here are 2 habits you can develop that will help you become a better leader and deliver better results.

Big picture thinking

Good leaders are vision oriented and habitually think about the big picture. The big picture includes what’s needed for the short-term and the long-term, including finances, structure, systems, people (clients and customers, and also staff). How many critical decisions have you made in the past 6 months and what contributes to your decision making process? Good leaders make important decisions after carefully weighing and considering the big picture. Having a vision alone is not enough. To achieve your vision, you need to routinely refer back to it.

Willpower

Good leaders seem to have a knack for doing the right things at the right times, more often than not. They get good results.  But to get good results, you need to be self-disciplined; you need willpower. This is easier said than done. Sometimes we demonstrate our willpower, but other times we lose a little self-discipline. Sound familiar?

Willpower is like a muscle and like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger and more developed it becomes.  The good news, the willpower and discipline you exercise in one area of your life will strengthen your willpower in general. In other words, if you decide to start exercising, set a schedule and stick to it.  That self-discipline can and should translate to other areas of your life and your business.

What you can do

In order to become a big picture thinker, you need to build this thought process into a habit. Start each week by thinking about your vision. Reflect about what you want to achieve in your business and in your personal life. This practice will eventually become automatic. Also, pick one area of your life you want to improve and where you could benefit from greater self-discipline. Maybe it’s eating, exercising, or even how you spend money. Only focus on one topic, but make sure it is something that is important to you. Make it a goal and really commit yourself to practicing discipline. Not only will you succeed in demonstrating greater willpower in this area, you’ll also notice yourself gaining more discipline in other areas of your life as well.

Of course, there are many other habits that can contribute to your success but these two habits are especially important for two reasons. When you know what you want to achieve in life, and you routinely think about this, you’ve given yourself a map for all future decisions, small and large. Two, when you’ve mastered the art of willpower and self-discipline, anything is possible – in your business, and in life.

On a final note, ask yourself these two questions. From top to bottom, are the employees in your company thinking about the big picture? Do your employees exhibit self-discipline and willpower?