Time management isn’t just about planning your day and then trying to stick with your plan. Without the knowledge and skill of true time management, just about everyone struggles to stay focused.
Why is this so?
It’s because when someone wants to get better at managing their time, they will book into a one day time management course that teaches them how to set their goals, plan activities aimed at achieving them, how to plan their week and then how to plan their day.
They leave this course all fired up, with all of this new knowledge and time management plan, arrive at work the next day ready to implement their plan and find that by the end of the day, they have struggled to achieve anything in their plan. This keeps happening all week and by the end of the second week, the plan and the course are just a memory and they are back to their old habits.
Why does this happen?
It’s because 1. Time management can’t be learnt in one day. 2. It is your thought patterns and habits that needs to change and very few if any time management workshops focus on this side of time management.
There are two phases to time management training;
1. Knowledge and process development.
2. The ongoing knowledge consolidation and skill and habit forming process.
These 2 phases are comprised of 4 key components;
2. Time Management
4. People Management Skills
Time management is impossible if you don’t have a plan. The plan determines what activities are important to you and therefore have to be done first to achieve your goals in business and life. With a plan, you know where to best use your time.
Steps to building your plan
a. Why – The planning process is about understanding why you do what you do. Understanding the Why is very important to helping you do and achieve what is really important to you and to keeping you focused during the tough times.
b. Vision – The vision is the picture that you have in your head of what you want to achieve. Get it out on paper, it helps clarify and solidify what you want to achieve.
c. Goals/Targets – Your main goals come from your vision, they are the targets you are looking for to achieve your vision. You can set your goals over 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 year time frames, however, if that seems unrealistic to you, just set yourself some goals for the next 12 months and focus on building a plan to achieve then.
d. Quarterly Action Plan – This is the point where planning starts to cross into time management. In a quarterly action plan, you create a plan for the next 3 months. In this plan you set your goals for the quarter and each month of the quarter. You then set the activities that you will action in each week of the month to achieve those goals.
2. Time Management
Time Management is about setting your plans on a weekly and daily basis, determining which day and time activities will be carried out in.
a. Weekly Planning – Using your quarterly action plan and dairy system, you plan which day activities from the action plan are to be completed on. You also plan in your appointments, family, social and any other activity you intend to carry out in that week.
b. Daily Planning – is about scheduling in your activities for the day, creating a to-do list that you prioritise and then following those priorities no matter what. How you set your prioritisation of this list is very important, the way most courses teach you to prioritise is wrong and results in only today focused tasks to be completed and goals not achieved. Our method of prioritising tasks each day results in our clients getting more of the important activities actually completed on time.
Without self-discipline, creating new and better time management skills simply will not happen. The process has to start from within you.
a. Avoiding Procrastination – There are many excuses as to why we put off doing things, but the simple fact is, each time we avoid doing something that is important, we are destroying our success. We need to learn how to control the way we think about various activities and complete them in their sequence of importance.
b. Distractions – An inability to stay focused on an important activity for a pre-set amount of time prevents us from achieving the success we want. Allowing ourselves to be constantly distracted by an array of things such as emails, phone calls, SMS, new apps, new technology, social media, new shinny bright things etc, etc means it just takes longer and longer to do things.
Each time you are distracted from doing something important, it takes 10 to 20 minutes to get back to presence you had before you were distracted. You need to create a methodology on how you let yourself be distracted for short periods of time in between the important activities.
4. People Management Skills
One of the biggest road blocks to achieving good time management skills and habits, is interruptions from other people. Team members, customers, suppliers, family etc. It’s important that you identify what interrupts you during your day, and create an action plan to eliminate those interruptions.
There is a lot to learn about managing people, however from a time management perspective, there are some key things you need to learn that will help you get back hours in your day.
a. Learn to teach your employee’s how to solve their own problems and make the decision you pay them to make, instead of coming to you all of the time. If you are someone that requires employees to come to for decisions and not make them themselves, you will always struggle with time management. It is not a good management style.
b. Learn how to communicate with people effectively. Everyone has a primary behavioural style and a primary learning modality. When you learn to communicate with someone based on their primary behaviour style and learning modality, the communication is significantly more effective saving you enormous amounts of time.
As you can see, learning how to create better time management skills is not a one day event. Gaining the base knowledge in each of these 4 areas can be done quickly, actually building a thorough knowledge and turning them into valuable skills takes much longer.
The way to implement the development of your time management skills, is to incorporate into your goals and activity planning, the skills you identify need to be developed in the Self-Discipline and People Management Skills areas.
I also recommend you have someone you meet with on a regular basis (at least monthly) who can help you further develop your knowledge and skills and keep you accountable for implementing your quarterly action plans