“What time management tips do you have?” I am asked this more and more often by consulting clients and our Smith School Executive MBAs. The pace of work seems to get crazier all the time and email is totally out of control.
The issue is broader than “managing time” at work. As I talk with people,
*Save Time. The best book to read about saving time is Stephen Covey’s First Things First. He shows how we often waste time on activities that are “not important.” Read this and learn how to identify the “big rocks” that can help you manage your time better.
*Increase Energy. Loehr & Schwartz argue that the key to being more productive is to manage our energy better. Check out The Power of Full Engagement to learn how to increase your Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual domains of energy.
*Focus Purpose. These first two suggestions will allow you to maximize time and energy. But there is still only so much. Increased fulfillment is the result of investing our time and energy in those endeavors which are most important to us. In order to do this, we first need to choose what is most important to us. I recommend that you use the exact same steps in my Mission Impact book to create a personal strategy for your personal success – in all areas of your life.
- Create a personal mission statement. Why are you here? What difference do you want to make? What inspires you?
- Create a vision for your life of what it would look like if you could have it any way you wanted it. Describe what every aspect of your life would be like, ideally.
- Set goals for yourself that will take you toward that vision. (Review my Goals Primer for details.)
- Do a SWOT analysis on yourself. IMPORTANT: Do a two week Time Study on how you spend every hour of your day. This will be important data as you take on the next steps.
- Create a strategy for accomplishing your goals and pursuing your vision. First, make sure to Block Threats and Fortify Weaknesses that may keep you from your goals and vision. Then look for ways to Leverage Strengths and Seize Opportunities.
- Implement Your Strategy. Take out the Time Study you created in Step 4 and make a new calendar for yourself that focuses your time on goals that are your priority. You will need to make some important choices about your priorities and how you are going to invest your time & energy. We can have more balanced and integrated lives, but ONLY if we make sure not to “over-subscribe” ourselves to various commitments that will require more time & energy than we have. Making a “stop doing” list is as important as making your new “to do” list.
There is no magic wand to create infinite time for all we want to do, but by Saving Time, Increasing Energy, and Focusing Purpose we can have higher levels of performance and fulfillment in all areas of our lives – making more of a personal Mission Impact.