By Doren Aldana
One of the most common questions we’ve been receiving from our members lately is, “How can I use my time more effectively?” The fact that so many of you are asking about this tells me it’s something we need to address. A good question deserves a good answer. But before I answer it, let me say this: You can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself within time. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. How we use those hours will determine our degree of success or failure in life. That’s why I believe time management is one of the most important skills to master.
With that said, here is a simple seven-step plan to mastering your time and exploding your productivity, while still enjoying a full and balanced life:
Step #1: Get clear about what you want and why you want it. Harv Eker says, “Most people don’t get what they want because they don’t know what they want!” I agree. Most people are like a leaf floating upon the river of life, allowing the current to toss it to and fro, without any pre-determined destination. Reminds me of the Cat in Alice in Wonderland who tells Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Before you can ever begin to create a “successful life” you must first sit down and determine for yourself what success looks like to you. But just knowing what you want is not enough; you must know WHY you want it! The late Jim Rohn affirmed: “When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.”
One of the unique advantages of becoming a FastTrak member, is that every ninety days you’ll be guided by your own personal coach to complete a “Quarterly Attraction Planner”. This worksheet is specifically designed to help you set measurable goals in each of your eight life areas, clarify your BIG vision and get connected with the compelling reasons why you MUST take action now to make it happen. According to Anthony Robbins, “Clarity is power.” The clearer you are about where you’re going, the easier it will be to determine where to invest your most valuable asset–your time.
Step #2: Stop majoring in minor things. If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s book, “7 Habits of Highly Successful People,” you may recall his “Time-Management Matrix”. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works: Everything we do on a day-to-day basis falls into one of the following four Quadrants: Quadrant 1 includes anything that is urgent and important. I call this the “Crisis Quadrant.” Putting out fires and dealing with that crisis closing would fall into this category. Most people spend most of their time stuck in perpetual crisis mode and then they wonder why they never get ahead. The only way to escape this madness is to determine the root cause of each crisis and then put an effective plan in place to prevent future crises from occurring. This activity would fall in to the next quadrant, Quadrant 2.
Quadrant 2 is the realm of the important but not urgent. In Brian Peart’s, “Mastering Time Management” training program, he describes Quadrant 2 as the, “Realm of Greatness.” The more time you invest in Quadrant 2, the less time you’ll have to waste putting out fires Quadrant 1. Examples of Quadrant 2 activities include: exercising, studying and implementing marketing strategies, meeting with referral partners, spending quality time with your family, submitting required documents well in advance of the closing date, etc. Brian Peart explains further, “Spending time with your child is important not urgent. You can do it today or tomorrow. But keep putting it off, and soon you will have a teenager in trouble – now you have a crisis.”
Quadrants 3 and 4 are comprised of those unimportant, low value activities that either need to be delegated (if urgent) or deleted altogether (if not urgent). Your goal should be to spend at least 80% of your time in Quadrant 2, doing those high leverage activities that produce the greatest results! In order to do that, you’ll need to master the following five steps…
Step #3: Focus on your top three highest value activities. Regardless of what you want to accomplish in life, there are always just a few key things that will bring you the greatest results. I call them “High Value Activities”; Brian Peart calls this concept, “The Law of Few Things”; others might call it, “The Pareto Principle”. Regardless of what you want to call it, they all point to the same question: “What top three activities will bring you the best results with the least amount of time, energy and money?” These three things will always be Quadrant 2 activities – they’re important but not urgent. Your level of success or failure will be determined by how much of your time you invest doing these things on a daily basis.
Step #4: Delegate, Systematize, Automate. If you want to make $100,000 per year working 40 hours per week, you need to be doing high value activities that generate $52/hr or more. If you allow yourself to get bogged down in the minutia $15/hour tasks, your income will adjust itself accordingly – to $15/hour. That’s why it’s so critical to constantly be asking yourself, “Can this task be delegated, systematized, or automated?” If the answer is yes, then do it!
When delegating, use Brian Peart’s five laws of delegation:
1. If someone can do something 80% as good as you – delegate!
2. Delegate to competent people.
3. Let go, let them work, let the process happen.
4. Check up to make sure things are done in the time frames you set.
5. If someone fails, learn from it and move on – don’t carry it with you.
Step 5: Block Schedule. Once you’ve identified your top three highest value activities, the next step is to start blocking them into your calendar. Anthony Robbins states that, “If you talk about it, it’s a dream. If you envision it, it’s possible. But if you schedule it, it’s real.” For best results, schedule your events for a minimum of one hour so you have enough time to build momentum. Since everything always takes longer than we expect, add an extra 30-60 minutes of “buffer time” to each scheduled event.
Step 6: Honor Your Schedule. Unfortunately, this is where most people drop the ball. Inevitable distractions and interruptions usually take them out. How about you? You say, “This year is going to be different”, but what are you doing differently than last year when it comes to planning your work and working your plan? Jim Rohn rightly noted that, “Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.”
Here are three steps to honoring your block schedule: First, set up a voice mail message that trains people when you’re available and when you’re not. Second, schedule 2-3 times per day for responding to voice mails and emails. Second, turn off your phone, Skype and email to avoid distractions. Third, get a lock and a “Do Not Disturb” sign for your office door. Understand that when you say “NO” to distractions, you’re saying “YES” to your dreams!
Step 7: Daily and Weekly Planning. Most people don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan. Brian Peart determined that, “One hour planning saves you five hours in wasted time.” That’s why making time for “Weekly Review and Planning” is so important. This is where you block off 1-3 hours every Sunday night or Monday morning to debrief the past week, acknowledge your progress and lessons learned, and set priorities for the upcoming week. Ask yourself this question: “What three things, if accomplished, would make this a winner week?” Break these goals up into specific action steps, schedule them and then do whatever it takes to follow through!
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