Time-management? Forget it.

Time-management.  You can’t do it;  it’s a misnomer.

Time’s the great leveller: no matter how wealthy or poor we are, we all get 168 hours in a week.  Which means that unless you’ve found a fully functioning TARDIS or Doc Brown’s DeLorean, you’re as powerless to manage time as the other 7 billion or so folk on Earth.

It’s really about self-management: what do you choose to do with your 168 hours each week?  Fortunately, we have options.  Some are easy (hit the snooze button and have a few more minutes) and some can appear to be more challenging (set the alarm to go off 30 minutes earlier to get some exercise in).  It helps when we understand what we’re here for.  Not existentially; in a work context!

So what are you here for?  Thinking about your work, what’s your “priority one”?  How often do you expend your time on priority two stuff, even though your priority one work is incomplete?  I know I used to be guilty of this.  But I took three steps and got better at managing “me”.  Here’s how.

Having answered the question, “What am I here for?”, I made a note of it, to have a visual reminder.  It’s a benchmark against which any activity can be measured: if it doesn’t help me to achieve P1, then why do it?  As a team we’re good at holding each other to account through our weekly update meetings (every Friday).  It’s exactly as Dr Gail Matthews’ research on goal-setting reported: write your goals, share them with someone you trust and have them hold you to account and you’re 50% more likely to achieve them than if you simply carry your goals around in your head.

My next step was to recognise when my energy levels peak and trough.  Knowing this helps me to plan my work accordingly.  On a personal note, I also found that when I made a couple of subtle changes to my diet (like having porridge for breakfast and cutting bread out), I had higher energy levels throughout the day.

The third step was to take control of my diary.  For too long I’d allowed the diary to control what I did, rather than the other way around.  I have responsibility for designing our training material, which means that research time is essential.  So I make sure there’s research time built into my diary.  It serves my P1.

If you’re the Sales Director, it makes sense to have time in your diary to walk your customers’ journey every month.  Where are the processes (deliberate or otherwise) that are making it unnecessarily difficult to become a customer or to become an advocate?

If you’re a Sales Manager, managing a sales team, it makes sense to have coaching and one-to-one time planned into your diary every month.

If you’re a member of the Sales Team, it makes sense to have personal development time scheduled in: time to sharpen your communications skills, your product knowledge and to talk to customers who did and didn’t buy from you (finding out their reasons why in both cases).

I still have the same number of hours in a week – that hasn’t changed.  It’s what I do with them that matters, and that’s something I can choose to manage.


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