It is impossible to add more hours to the day, but we can add more value by making a commitment to better utilize the time that we have. Being part of the Boomer Consulting, Inc. team has given me a unique opportunity to learn how to maximize the value of my time. Gary, Sandra and Jim set a positive example for the team as they each balance busy schedules while still taking time to learn, mentor and enjoy life outside of work. Here are a few time management insights and best practices that our team has adopted to make the most of our time.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Planning ahead is the most important habit of an effective time manager. You should take control of your time instead of just allowing the day to unfold. If you do not have a plan you are leaving yourself at risk of being reactive as you respond to the events of the day. Here are several things that we do at Boomer Consulting, Inc. to plan ahead:
- Long term goals – We create a One-Page Strategic Plan every year that documents our company goals. We review the plan quarterly to chart our progress.
- Short term goals – Each member of the team completes a 90-Day Game Plan at the beginning of each quarter that lists goals and desired outcomes. The Game Plans are shared with the team and results are reviewed quarterly.
- Daily Goals – We are all encouraged to make a list of priorities each day, and to complete the most important task or project first. We provide weekly updates to make sure that our priorities stay in line with our individual and company goals. This may sound simple, but it takes a clear understanding of priorities and a concentrated effort to stay on task in spite of distractions.
- Focus Time – We use our calendars to protect time to focus on projects without interruptions. This time is respected by everyone on the team and is kept free of appointments, phone calls and meetings. It is up to each team member to make sure that they plan ahead to schedule this time and to use it for the intended purpose.
Accountability and Responsibility
Time management is really self-management. The number of hours in the day never changes; it is up to us to decide how we use the time that we have. In Alec Mackenzie’s book, Time Trap, he summarizes the idea of self-management:
"Thus the very notion of time management is a misnomer. For we cannot manage time. We can only manage ourselves in relation to time. We cannot control how much time we have; we can only control how we use it. We cannot choose whether to spend it, but only how. Once we’ve wasted time, it’s gone – and it cannot be replaced.”
It is important to get in the habit of being self-disciplined and accountable for how you are spending your time. There are several ways that our team incorporates accountability:
- Accountability Review – At the end of each quarter we review our 90-Day Game Plans. We are accountable for our successes as well as our areas for improvement.
- Time Log – Last year a majority of the team kept a time log for a month to help increase awareness of how we were spending our time. We used the time log to keep a detailed account of our activities. We were able to identify inefficiencies and make significant improvements.
- Clear Roles and Responsibilities – We use our Kolbe Index scores to help determine how we work best as individuals and as a team. We also completed a Unique Abilities Assessment that identified our instinctive strengths. In addition, we have team updates as needed to discuss and clarify roles and responsibilities.
Commitment and Consistency
Time management must be a lifestyle instead of a short term quick fix that results from feeling overwhelmed and disorganized. Effectively managing your time is a skill that takes a commitment to continual reassessment and refinement. It requires turning techniques and tips into habits that suit your work style. These habits should be reviewed and adjusted regularly to meet the changing demands on your time.
Getting the most value out of your time also requires taking a proactive approach. Every day you must make good decisions that will minimize distractions and disruptions. The key is to learn to be a consistently effective time manager day after day in spite how the surrounding circumstances may change.
Do not allow yourself to become too busy to manage your time. Identify small changes that will make a difference and try one adjustment at a time. Be willing to change and resist the urge to revert back to old habits.
You will get the most value from your time by planning ahead, being accountable and responsible for how you spend your time, and also being committed and consistent. Get started today!