Start Getting Real About Time Management

The dictionary defines time as “the point at which things occur.” By that definition, a simplified version would be, time is when stuff gets done. In addition to being the point at which stuff happens, time is also relative, and being able to distinguish between the two is
the first step toward good time management.

There are two types of time: real time and relative time. In real time, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. All time passes equally. When someone turns 45, they are exactly 45 years old, not a minute more and not a minute less.

In relative time, all time is exactly that: relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you’re doing. Fifteen minutes of waiting to see your doctor can feel like an hour. And yet our 15-year-old children seem to have grown up in a blink.

Which time describes the world in which you really live, relative or real time?

The reason time-management tools and systems don’t work is that these systems are designed to manage real time. Real time is irrelevant. You don’t live in or even have access to real time. You live in relative time, a world in which all time flies when you are having fun or drags when you are waiting for water to boil.

The good news is that relative time is mental. It is created by you, and anything you create, you can manage. It’s time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around “not having enough time,” or today not being “the right time” to start a business or manage your current business properly.
There are only three ways to spend time: concepts, communications and dealings. Regardless of the type of business you own, your work will be composed of those three items.

As a business owner, you may be frequently interrupted and asked to be here, there and everywhere at any given time. While you cannot eliminate interruptions, you do have the power over how much time you spend on them and how much time you spend on the concepts, communications and dealings that will lead you on the path to success.

Below are some good tips to become master of your time domain:

• Carry a schedule and record all your concepts, communications and dealings for a week. This will help you see and understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going. You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive concepts, communications and dealings.

• Any dealing or communication that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists become so long they’re unmanageable. Appointment books work. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority items. Schedule when they will begin and end, and be disciplined in keeping these appointments with yourself.

• Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the concepts, communications and dealings that produce most of your results.

• Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing. Take the concept of having “office hours,” for instance. “Office hours” are simply another way of saying “planned interruptions.”

• Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what’s missing in your next call or activity?

• Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done.

• Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing or answering e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to return phone calls and answer e-mails.

• Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business. If your will power to stay off the internet needs a jolt, try a productivity application such as Freedom (http://macfreedom.com), which, for $10, can disable your internet for up to
eight hours.

Above all, remember that it is impossible to do everything and be everywhere for everyone. But it’s also good to remember that 20 percent of your concepts, communications and dealings produce 80 percent of your results.

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