How much is your time worth? I’m always on the lookout for new insights or practical tips that can make all the difference when it comes to personal and professional effectiveness.
Here are five distinctions that I’ve added to my effectiveness toolkit.
The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) as applied to time management means 80% of your effectiveness will come from 20% of your activities. To bring those impactful activities into your awareness imagine you were going to receive a €10000 bonus to focus on the core elements of your job or those tasks or initiatives that would have the greatest effect on your bottom line. Where would you devote your time and energy so you secured that bonus?
Not all of the hours you work are of equal importance. Some hours are priceless, fundamental to your business success; others can be a complete waste of time and effort. You will never realise your potential unless you know the difference between the two.
As a manager or business owner, you need to know those activities that you can outsource or delegate and those activities that only you are ‘paid’ to do. In short, you have to focus on those activities commensurate with your hourly rate, not those activities other people are or could be paid to do, at an hourly rate lower than yours.
Most ‘to do’ lists are ‘should’ lists. True effectiveness means elevating priorities to ‘must’ status. What are your five ‘musts’ for the day, for the week, for the month, for the quarter, for the year? If a task is labelled a ‘must’ there is no room for procrastination or avoidance.
Get one of your daily ‘musts’ actioned first thing, before you check email and you are setting the tone for a proactive and productive day.
Our behaviour determines our results. It follows that if we seek different results, we need to do some things differently. Thinking precedes behaviour, so different behaviour requires different thinking.
We have to create the space, give ourselves the time to think better thoughts that will stimulate more effective behaviour.
What would happen if you took ten minutes in the morning to think about the day ahead, what you wanted to achieve, how you wanted to approach a situation? Even spending one minute thinking about what you want to achieve by the end of a phone call will enhance the effectiveness of that phone call.
If you don’t put time aside to think you are not connecting with your greatest resource, that is, your intelligence, your experience and your intuition (not to mention connecting with higher wisdom, if that is your belief.) And following on from distinction number one, only you can do your own thinking.
As the late Stephen Covey said in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ we have to take time to ‘sharpen the saw’ (the seventh habit by the way.) This means giving ourselves time to reflect and recharge. This doesn’t mean just taking a two week holiday each year, it means factoring time for ourselves into our weekly schedules.
If you spend your time every day giving of yourself to family, colleagues and customers, how are you refuelling yourself? Is it quality time with family, going to the gym, meditating? Whatever it is, do yourself a favour and make it a habit.
As with the safety instructions on an aeroplane, put your own oxygen mask on first, only then are you of benefit to others.
What is being properly selfish? It means putting yourself and your priorities higher on your own agenda. There are many people, activities and tasks that are an ineffective use of your time. We can have obligations in our schedules that are there out of little more than habit.
The cliché of working smarter always means stopping doing something, crossing something off your list of commitments, so your time and energy are spent in a way that better suits your own needs and priorities.
Time is a finite resource, you have to protect it and be aware of your boundaries and tolerances. Monitoring your schedule for a few weeks and identifying those activities or events that are no longer working for you is time well spent. Imagine the sense of freedom that comes when you stop doing something that you never really wanted to do in the first place.
In my experience, the most effective people are fierce about protecting their time and their energy. The above five distinctions provide a way of doing just that, but they also have the added benefit of enabling you to marry your schedule with what is ultimately most important to you, and that is a recipe for something more valuable than effectiveness, namely, fulfilment.
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