Tips to consciously control your activities and do what you value most.

Photo credit: © Sunagatova

"I don’t have enough time. If only there were just a few more hours in the day!” Does this sound like something you’ve said recently? I remember when I used to constantly curse the day for being too short. There was a time in my business when I was “in the truck.” I ran service calls myself, answered the phone, returned client’s calls, and completed invoicing and paperwork once I got home. At this point in my young career, I believed there was not enough time in the day for me to accomplish what I wanted in my life and business.

I later found this to be a myth. In fact, time is one of the only resources that everyone shares 100 percent in equality.

That’s right! We all have exactly the same amount of seconds, minutes and hours in the day. However, the choices we make regarding how our moments are spent and how we focus our attention defines who we are as business leaders. It’s very important to understand the power of time and realize that if you don’t learn to control your time, you’ll never have control over how your day unfolds.

What about you? Are you managing your time or is it managing you?

I know what you’re thinking. Time management is a topic you’ve read about before, and is the best use of your time reading another article about it? Well, these simple time-management strategies helped me create the freedom I had always dreamed of in my life. Therefore, this is a topic that deserves our focus as we continue our journey toward the companies and lives we desire.

Time management is an issue many of my coaching clients struggle with. I think it’s safe to say most business leaders struggle with managing their time effectively. It seems like there are so many things pulling at you daily, demanding your attention … where do you begin? Let’s look at a few simple strategies that will help you regain control of your precious time, or at least remind you of areas where you could be more effective.

  • Take ownership. Until we clearly understand that we are creating our own “time deficiency,” we will always be behind schedule, blaming it on someone or something else. I coach people to reserve 60 minutes per day (in the beginning) to work strategically “on” their companies instead of tasks “in” the business. Usually, I’m told they don’t have enough time to do it. The thing is, if I shadowed them for a day, I guarantee we would find that hour; they just don’t realize where it’s being wasted. Facebook? Email? Leaving early for a beer with friends? These are all fine in themselves, just don’t fall victim to “not having time” because of the choices you make.

  • Prioritize. Sounds simple, right? It is simple, but it takes clarity and understanding in order to realize what your true priorities should be. You are probably spending time each day on tasks that could be restructured or delegated, but you’re still doing those things based on past routine. Begin to ask yourself quality questions regarding your daily tasks, making sure you are personally doing the most important things for you and the business.

    I don’t disagree that most business leaders are very busy. I just know many are very busy … doing the wrong things. Analyze your priorities and start working on what really matters moving forward, and watch your results begin to change for the better.

  • Do the worst first. My friend Tom LaCroix taught me this concept many years ago. One of the main reasons people procrastinate is they don’t want to deal with a particular task or an aspect of a task. Instead of dealing with the situation, they get sidetracked on the Internet or wait for the time to be “just right.” Maybe you need to counsel a team member or write him up, but you don’t like confrontation so you wait a couple days. Then he repeats the behavior before you’ve gotten around to addressing it the first time. What we don’t realize is this negative energy we’re dwelling on is keeping us from being fully productive in other areas of our day.

    Tom shared a great strategy with me to help start the process of doing the worst first. First, take a look at your stack of phone messages that require return calls. Then, pick the very call you dread the most. It might be an unpleasant conversation, task, person or thing you don’t want to deal with. Regardless of the reason, make this call first, and it all gets better from there.

  • Cut the crap. That might sound a little firm, but you know what I mean. There are situations, attitudes, tasks, people and behaviors you simply put up with that don’t serve you. They aren’t moving you in the direction of your overall goals and dreams, and they’re draining your mental, physical and emotional energy. Eliminate these taxing people, projects and things. You’ll free up valuable time and energy to accomplish what you want to - and you’ll have more fun in the process!

  • Fundamentally, time management comes down to consciously controlling your activities and doing what you value most. If you tell someone you don’t have time to do something, you’re actually saying you value doing something else more than whatever you “don’t have time to do.”

    Here’s an example. If you tell me you don’t have time to go to lunch with me, you are really saying, “Thanks, Kenny, but I value a prior commitment more than I value lunch with you.” This is the actual truth. There might be a myriad of reasons why you can’t go to lunch with me, but it simply comes down to the fact that something else is your priority. This is perfectly fine.

    Don’t ever feel bad about prioritization; you’re simply making smarter choices. In fact, use it to your benefit and realize that time issues are actually prioritization issues. You will begin to effectively plan your days, finding you have more time and freedom than you were previously aware of. Maybe you do have time to take that vacation you’ve been talking about!

    It takes dedicated effort and practice to regain ownership of your time, but it is possible if you make the commitment. I believe in you. With focus, you can create more time in your day, and ultimately your life. Remember that we all have the same amount of time; we just manage it differently based on our choices.