Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Take Time to Make Time...Set Goals, Get Organized, Go Further

Time. Seconds, minutes, hours. 

We spend our time, we spend so much of it and yet, that doesn't guarantee that we will get a reward on our time. Right?

And why is that?

Do we know how much our time is truly worth?
Do we know where our time...goes?
How often do we actually time ourselves to evaluate these questions?

To tackle this dilemma (as well was obtain an ROI on my time in 2011), I decided it was time to take action. To start, I have been reading a book entitled "But Are You Making Any Money" written by The Party Goddess Marley Majcher.

I noticed that the books cover statement said, "Stop being busy and start creating cash." And for me, that really resonated.

Time is money. Being busy does not mean we are spending our time wisely or even yielding a return on it.

As a matter of fact, it wasn't until this book that I began to realize that what I thought I could do in 30 minutes actually took more time, perhaps even double that. It wasn't until I read this book that I realized how many of us underestimate our time and spiral out of control into an unorganized, unclear, unmanageable abyss. Does this sound familiar? 

For me, this book has been helpful in pointing out time debt. I'd be lying if I didn't admit there were also indicators from 2010 which demonstrated loud and clear that I needed to "take time to make time."

Those inidcators included:
  • having no time to work out
  • having no time to eat a meal
  • having no time to catch up with friends or family on the phone or via email
  • having no time to read and exercise my mind
Time just flew and flew and flew so much that you'd swear it was a bird (or international airline since it was "flying" all over the place).

As I began to examine how I had no free time or down time or "me" time, I realized the time had come to make a change. With the encouragement of Marley's book and the reinforcement of some basic time management principles, I began to "take time to make time" in 2011 to set goals, get organized and go further. Guess what? It's working for me and it can work for you too.

Here are a few simple actions I take to make time, set goals, get organized and go further.
  1. Start with the big picture.  Before we know where our time will go, we must identify what we would like our time to result in. This means looking at the calendar year in quarters, then assigning one, major, tangible, "big" goal per quarter. For example, we are almost at the end of Quarter 1, 2011. My major goal was to start performing again. In order to support this, I signed up for weekly stand up comedy classes and graduate March 16th. I committed to my big quarter goal over a period of time and as a result, am so close to accomplishing it. What is it that you would like to accomplish? Say you want to run a race. Make that your "quarter goal" then sign up and participate in a run club for 12 weeks to ensure you complete your goal and have an accountability tool.
  2. Don't bite off more than you can chew on your list of things "to do." I recently read somewhere offline that your to-do list should not contain more than 7 items. At first, I scoffed. 7 items sounded very minimal until I applied this theory and timed myself, then it all started making sense. Here's the thinking behind this. Most of us have 8 hours in a work day to get things done. Within that time we must account for meetings, phone calls, emails, the main functions of our job,  and unforeseen distractions. 7 things on your to-do list means you can spend quality time--at least one hour per action item, to help minimize errors, ensure task completion and account for the unpredictable while keeping you sane. The other day, I came across this post entitled "7 Easy Wins" from the Health and Happiness which reconfirmed the lucky 7 theory.
  3. Get ready, get set, get timing. I cannot emphasize this enough because I personally had avoided this so much in the past. You must time yourself. Just because we have a cell phone, iPad and laptop does not mean that we can do more in 60 minutes--it may actually mean we do less. Invest in a good old fashioned buzz timer and set it. Time yourself to get the feel for how long it takes you to actually do things. And then once you actually know, start scheduling. Block time for email correspondence, client tasks, phone calls. Here is an example of how I block time. Wake up, 6:30/7:00 am. Eat breakfast, 7:00-7:30. Hygiene, 7:30-8:00. Read/Write/Consume coffee, 8:00-9:00am. To-do list and start the day, 9:00 am-noon. You get the idea. Phone calls are typically in the afternoon, between 3:00-5:00 pm. But this is just my system. Find what works for you. 
  4. Read a book or enlist the help of an organizer. Depending on your discipline, I suggest you either read a book per quarter on getting things done, managing time, etc OR enlist the help of a professional organizer. For me, I have found that reading "But Are You Making Any Money" kills two birds with one stone; I get to take a break and read while learning new skills that help me improve my efficiency. I can apply what I learn very easily. But not everybody has that time (hence this blog post). Should that be the case, there are many professional organizers out there whose sole job and purpose is to help you streamline your time. I recommend Teresa Nicola of Collected Spaces. Despite being based out of Portland, Teresa can provide phone consultations to help clients from all over the globe tackle their time management and have ease of mind. 
These are my tips but I would love to hear from you. Feel free to share your time saving solutions in the comments section below.

Also, I thank you for taking the time to read this. Spread the word. Share this post so we can help create a time surplus. Take time to make time, get those Q2 goals in mind. Then, get organized to ensure you go further this year personally, professionally, and profitably.

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