Let me start by saying I know you are busy. I don’t know anyone who isn’t and it is very clear that things are not going to change. I recently experienced the high school graduation of my youngest son and he joined my oldest son at the same university which is about 450 miles away from home. This event made me and my wife official “empty nesters” and I thought, NOW things will start to slow down…wrong! There is college to prepare for, forms to fill out, move ins, move outs, travel, adjustments, books, bedding, dorms, apartment leases and oh yeah…the boys have things to do too!!
Okay, so maybe that was a little bit of overkill, but I am sure you will agree, you have never been more busy and there never seems to be enough time in the day…so what can we do to make the most of the 24 hours each of us have been given every day? Good question.
There have been many conversations on the topic of time and time management. In fact, it has been the topic of many a song. The band Chicago asked the question “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Jim Croce wanted to put “Time in a Bottle” but perhaps you can relate best with Freddy Fender and his song “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”. If you are like me, you have probably expressed these same sentiments at one point or another.
Two Facts About Time
To start, I want to share two facts I know specifically about time. First, time plays no favorites.
We are each given the same amount of time. No matter who we are or what we do, each of us are given 24 hours a day, no more and no less. It is what we do with time that matters.
Secondly, time rewards the diligent and punishes the slacker. Do you know someone who just seems to have everything organized and in place and are very successful? How is it that these individuals seem to have it all together? After all, they run on the same 24 hours as the rest of us, right? The key is they are diligent, persistent if you will. While it is not an easy task, I have found that in my personal experience, when I am focused on what needs to be done and have a plan in place and stick to it, I can get much more done and even have time to spare.
On the contrary, I have also been guilty of slacking. I remember very well one particular year I decided to forego my annual business planning session for the upcoming year. What I normally did in early November, I put off or actually completely avoided. I figured I would do it later because at the moment, the ski slopes were calling my name. As a result I walked into January of the following year without a clear direction. To make a long story short, because of my slacking attitude, what normally happened in January of years past, began in April and I found myself playing “catch up” the entire year. Needless to say, it was my worst production year ever.
Find vs. Make and Reward vs. Risk
I have the opportunity to sit in the chair of a great philosopher and learn many things. His name is Sonny and he cuts my hair. One day while scissors were blazing, he made the statement “We need to make a way to find more time.” He was hoping for some magic pill or potion that would do this for he believed that if you make more time, you could make more money.
I was intrigued by these two words find and make and it became clear to me that in terms of time, these words have very different meanings.
Make means to create. To me this means I will create a spot in my day to ensure the task gets done. For example, I will make time to play golf. I will make time to spend with my family. On a business note, I will make time to invoice customers and clients. Make means it is easy for me to do because the task is something I look forward to and I see a reward when the task is done.
Find means discover or uncover. I know it is there but I must put forth the effort to get it done. For example; if I am sick, I will find time to go to the doctor. I will find time to fill out my tax return and on a business note, I will find time to pay my bills. Find means the task must get done, BUT it is not something I look forward to yet I also know that there are consequences or risks if I don’t get the task done.
The point is that it is human nature to look forward to the things or tasks we love to do or see a reward in accomplishing. It is equally revealing that we will avoid or even despise doing the tasks we don’t enjoy but understand there are risks or punishments if we do not complete the task.
The first key to making (remember the word) best use of our time is to first look at our attitude towards it and the tasks involved. You will be surprised how a positive attitude puts a “make time” spin on the task while a negative approach puts a “find time” on everything.
Here is an idea. Take a look at the tasks you do on a daily basis. As you think about these, determine the benefit or reward you will see by getting the task done or by completing it early. This mentality will put a charge in your step and I believe will make your day far more productive.
Okay, now you might be saying, “Tim, that is great and I’m with you on this, but how do you do this? Do you have any tips for making it happen?” I’m glad you asked because in my next blog I will describe four modes of time management operation. I will give you the symptoms of each and the remedies. Finally, I will give you a tool that you can take a specific task and “test” it through a grid to determine how to best and most efficiently handle any routine task or emergency.
See you soon in “It’s About Time” Part 2.