Despite my love of longer days, I hate the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. Advancing the clocks at home and work reminds me of how precious time is. The thing about time is that it can only be spent, it cannot be saved. And there are only two ways to spend time: wisely or not so wisely.
I may not be a financial wizard, but I know the basics - if you want to build a nest egg later on, you can’t spend everything you earn now. This same principle applies to our most valuable and undervalued resource time. In fact, time is more precious resource than money. After all, money comes to us as a direct result of how we spend our time. If you want more productivity out of your time in the future, you have to shift the ratio from "expense" to "investment".
1. Waste Disposal
The first step is a critical appraisal of how you spend your time. Question your habits. How much of your time are you spending foolishly? For simplicity sake, let’s say you earn $100,000 per year and work an average of 40 hours per week for 48 weeks. That amounts to 86 cents a minute. Rounding that up to an even dollar, that’s $5.00 for 5 minutes. Now, ask yourself, how many 5 minute sections of your daily activities are worth that kind of investment?
Keep a time log for one week. In your time log, look at each work activity and decide objectively how much time each was worth to you, and compare that with the time you actually spent on it. An afternoon spent polishing an internal memo into a Pulitzer prize winning piece of provocative prose is waste; an hour spent debating the goodbye gift for a colleague is waste; a minute spent sorting out the paper-clips is a waste (unless relaxation). Don’t’ allocate time to the trivial. More importantly, if you have a task to do, decide before hand how long it should take and work to that deadline, then move on to the next task.
2. Stop Doing Your Staff’s Work
Having considered what is complete waste, turn your attention to what is merely inappropriate. You say it’s often easier to do the job yourself. You think that putting postage on outgoing mail ensures that bills will be sent that day. Writing the progress report that your dental assistant missed is more pleasant than sending it back. Nonsense!
Large gains can be made by assigning duties to your team. Invest time in clarifying job responsibilities. Give feedback when they do not meet agreed-upon expectations. If you have a task that could be done by an employee, use the next occasion to start training him/her to do it instead of doing it yourself. You will need to spend some time monitoring the task thereafter, but far less that in doing it yourself.
Use the 80-20 Rule originally stated by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noted that 80 percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort. The trick to prioritizing is to isolate and identify that valuable 20 percent. Once identified, prioritize time to concentrate your work on those items with the greatest reward.
4. Eliminate the Urgent
Urgent tasks have short-term consequences while important tasks are those with long-term, goal-related implications. Work towards reducing the urgent things you must do so you'll have time for your important priorities. Flagging or highlighting items on your To Do list or attaching a deadline to each item may help keep important items from becoming urgent emergencies.
5. Consider Your Biological Clock
Our bodies have more than 100 circadian rhythms. Each unique 24-hour cycle influences an aspect of functioning, including body temperature, hormone levels, heart rate, blood pressure-- even pain threshold. Understanding how these cycles interplay is fascinating. Pay attention to what time of day are you at your best. Are you a "morning person," a "night owl," or a late afternoon "whiz?" Knowing when your best time is and planning to use that time of day for your greatest priorities is effective time management.
Over the next week, we will all have 168 hours. How much of your time will you allocate toward the investment side?
If you want to get a higher rate of return on your future, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will help you to make more productive use of your time.