Monday, July 9, 2012

About time

"Everybody's talking at me.  I can't hear a word they're saying." - Harry Nilsson.


Do you practice management by tuning out?  

There's the tuning out that Harry Nilsson sang about:  unhappy with your current situation, you shut out the world because you just can't handle one more request from yet another needy person.  You long for more control, a better situation, a clearer path, but aren't sure where that place may be or how to get there.  You are stuck in neutral; you know that there's a road not taken for you, but you can't find your keys.

There's also the productive kind of tuning out, one that's sadly not immortalized in song.  It's where you actively limit your distractions, focus on your priorities and feel a tangible sense of accomplishment.  You are in control, in balance, working on your business rather than in your business.  You make some progress every day, and hit your goals over time.

We all live in the same age of distraction.  It affects us all, and especially for those of a certain age, time seems to be accelerating away from us.  There's too much to do and realistically, not enough time available to do it all.  We are constantly running to catch up to our to-do lists and not making progress.  I call it the one head, many hats syndrome.

Every one of us has exactly the same 24 hours in each day and yet some manage to do more with their allotment than others. Why?  How?

As usual with harried business owners, it's not for the lack of desire or available resources.  There are many time management tips and techniques available to those who seek guidance.  Google "time management techniques" and you will get 30.6 million results in one-quarter of a second.  

Don't have the time or algorithm to sort through all that? 

Here's a hint to get you started:  it's about less, not more.  Do less, want less, touch less...and gain more time and sanity.
  • Analyze and classify your work:  important/urgent; important/non-urgent; neither urgent or important.  The Pareto Principle suggests that the bulk of your time is being held hostage by a very few tasks.  Most of what you are dealing with is just a distraction. 
  • Apply business triage principles:  focus your limited resources only on the important and urgent; delegate other important but not urgent tasks and ignore the unimportant (it's amazing how fast they will disappear.)
  • Define your priorities:  Have an overarching objective that acts as the guidepost for your prioritization and delegation.  What do you need or desire most:  is it time with family; greater profits to hire more staff; the desire to hand be less hands-on?  Once you decide, defend that priority as if everything in your life depends on it.
Because it just might.

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